Army combat soldiers get new uniforms that cool faster

Major-General Melvyn Ong, the Chief of Defence Force, training with the soldiers while wearing the new hybrid uniform. The hybrid uniform will be worn during outfield exercises and combat physical training. For other routine activities such as parade
Major-General Melvyn Ong, the Chief of Defence Force, training with the soldiers while wearing the new hybrid uniform. The hybrid uniform will be worn during outfield exercises and combat physical training. For other routine activities such as parades, the No. 4 uniform will be worn.ST PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG
Soldiers from 4th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (4 SIR), in the customised Vocation Fitness Training programme at Bukit Panjang Camp.
Soldiers from 4th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (4 SIR), in the customised Vocation Fitness Training programme at Bukit Panjang Camp.

Singapore Armed Forces soldiers are now wearing new, cooler and faster-drying hybrid uniforms when training out in the field, reducing the risk of heat injuries.

The body of the uniform is made of a green T-shirt-like fabric that is a combination of flame-resistant synthetic material and aramid. The long sleeves are of the pixelised fabric used in the standard No. 4 uniform.

The new uniform is 40 per cent more permeable and dries 60 per cent faster than the standard No. 4 uniform, providing better air circulation and heat dissipation.

It was rolled out in January for soldiers in army combat units, and unveiled to the media on Tuesday.

The hybrid uniform will be worn during outfield exercises and combat physical training. The No. 4 uniform will be worn for other routine activities such as parades.

All soldiers in the 3rd and 6th Battalions of the Singapore Infantry Regiment (3SIR and 6SIR) have been given two sets of the new uniforms. Other combat units will be fully equipped by the year end.

Said Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Yee Kok Meng, head of the Centre of Excellence for Soldier Performance: "When soldiers wear the integrated load-bearing vests (on top of the hybrid uniform), they would feel more comfortable and endure longer in a combat environment."

The integrated load-bearing vest is a type of combat vest.

There are no plans for operationally-ready national service-men (NSmen) to wear the hybrid uniform.

SLTC Yee said the centre, which opened last December, has implemented a programme that allows soldiers to do supervised recovery exercises at seven of their own units, instead of being referred to a specialist.

Before the programme, a soldier might take weeks to get a specialist appointment, so the new programme helps cut waiting time.

In these units, preliminary data shows that soldiers now experience about 30 per cent fewer musculoskeletal injuries.

Lower back, knee and ankle injuries form about 70 per cent of all musculoskeletal injuries suffered by soldiers, according to army studies.

A wearable technology prototype will also be trialled by 150 cadets from the Officer Cadet School for six months.

The sensor, which can be worn as an armband, can gather information such as pulse rate, skin temperature and sleep activity.

The data gathered can be used to develop a training application for soldiers to track their own performance, and a real-time monitoring system to help commanders detect soldiers in distress.

The centre has also developed a four-week Vocation Fitness Training, a customised programme divided into three main types: combat, combat support and combat service support units.

The training will be customised to what the soldiers do out in the field. For example, exercises will target strengthening the lower body and increasing endurance for carrying heavy loads over long distances.

Second Sergeant Simone Goh, 23, a section commander in 4SIR, said: "For infantry soldiers, we have to (work for) the combat skills badge in the future, which requires walking for 32km, and navigation exercises overseas for up to 50km, so this training would help build up our endurance."

Lim Min Zhang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2018, with the headline 'Army combat soldiers get new uniforms that cool faster'. Print Edition | Subscribe