The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will, for the first time, lower its training tempo across all services, with the aim of giving commanders and troops the time and space needed to review the safety of its systems and processes. The move is a part of measures which the military is taking after Singaporean actor Aloysius Pang died from injuries suffered during a military exercise in New Zealand. The fatality drew public attention again to what has been a number of recent accidents, Mr Pang's death being the fifth reported since September 2017. Although that spate of bad news followed four preceding years of no training-and operations-related fatalities, Singaporeans, particularly those whose sons perform national service, would be right to be concerned about the safety of the training environment in which soldiers carry out their duties.
The lowering of the SAF's training tempo is an important step in addressing those concerns. The move will give it time to review and reinforce training safety protocols and, crucially, contribute to an environment in which personnel sharpen their safety awareness. At the end of the day, the effectiveness of all safety manuals and honed protocols depends on the real-time reactions of those who observe rules, often in trying circumstances that can appear out of the blue. No protocol conceivably could predict such circumstances, but the training regime must equip every soldier to think about his safety and that of his colleagues even as the exigencies of training press down on all. An important consideration here is how well-prepared operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) are for their military jobs.