SINGAPORE - Every career soldier and citizen soldier will find it easier to train for - and maybe even pass - his annual physical fitness test, as the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) finalises changes to simplify the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT).
The highly anticipated move, the first made to alter the test in more than 30 years, will likely include scrapping some test stations, to make the IPPT "simpler to administer and simpler to train for", said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.
Today, the IPPT has five stations: the chin-up, standing broad jump, 4x10m shuttle, sit-up and 2.4km run.
Noting that the majority of militaries worldwide "use simpler tests" with fewer components, Dr Ng said the Singapore Army has studied their fitness tests and "found a format that meets these needs which you can do (with) fewer stations and... are able to maintain the fitness standards and keep or at least signal the fitness standards".
Dr Ng, who announced the IPPT review in an interview ahead of SAF Day on July 1, however, did not disclose the changes. These will be announced by army chief Perry Lim "within the next few months".
With the new test, SAF servicemen, including active personnel and Operationally-Ready national servicemen (NSmen), will be able to "train in his own environment for types of exercises which are simpler to do", said Dr Ng.
But "simpler is not easier", he cautioned, as IPPT changes will be made "without diluting fitness standards".
He added: "We want a fit SAF, and a fit SAF is a desired goal and a good goal for all Singaporeans.
News of the IPPT changes follows the Government's recent move to approve 30 proposals made by the Committee to Strengthen National Service last month to better recognise NSmen and boost public buy-in for the conscription scheme that started in 1967.
From Tuesday, NSmen no longer need to report to the authorities when going overseas, unless the trip exceeds 14 days.
NSmen will also be given up to twice the current timeframe to pass their IPPT and complete remedial training.
In his wide-ranging annual interview, Dr Ng said easing the restrictions and burden of NS on servicemen does not mean that the SAF is getting "softer".
Rather, it is a response to the changing needs of a new generation of servicemen, who have a "different psychological make-up", he said.
"It is, in a sense, not taking that strictly dogmatic approach but being flexible and listening to the NSmen, responding to them."