National servicemen must do their part to uphold safety

Training is inherently important. If our servicemen do not train well, they will not be able to defend Singapore in the event of a crisis.
Training is inherently important. If our servicemen do not train well, they will not be able to defend Singapore in the event of a crisis. PHOTO: ST FILE

The findings of the Committee of Inquiry set up to investigate the circumstances leading to national serviceman Aloysius Pang's death are a strong reminder to all servicemen to exercise due caution during their annual training (COI: All three soldiers in gun's cabin breached safety rules, May 7).

As a fellow operationally ready national serviceman (holding a rank of lieutenant-colonel), it is of no comfort to learn that there was no evidence that the incident involved foul play.

Training is inherently important. If our servicemen do not train well, they will not be able to defend Singapore in the event of a crisis. That being said, I believe a strong Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) can be built up without compromising the safety and well-being of our national servicemen.

The slew of new measures implemented by the SAF will no doubt strengthen the level of training safety (Emergency stop button drills now mandatory for howitzer crew, May 7). This will also be boosted by the new SAF Inspector-General's Office that has full authority to scrutinise and enforce safety processes and practices at all levels. A robust check-and-balance mechanism will ensure that any procedural lapses are discovered and rectified swiftly.

Safety measures must be complemented by cooperation from servicemen, who have to recognise that military training comes with inherent risks. Orders given by their immediate superiors must be complied with, and commanders must not turn a blind eye when they are not.

Servicemen must remain vigilant during training, and look out for one another. They need to be proficient with emergency contingencies.

Training is a learning process and human errors do occur. There is a strong culture of safety in the SAF. This culture must be respected and upheld at all levels.

Let us not rest on our laurels and take for granted the routine measures that contribute to a safe training environment for all.

Jonathan Mark Jeremiah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2019, with the headline 'National servicemen must do their part to uphold safety'. Print Edition | Subscribe