The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has shelved boot camp plans for reservist servicemen who skip their mandatory military fitness test three times. Instead, it will review the way it deals with these offenders.
The latest move comes amid recent efforts to get citizen soldiers to stay in shape, while making them more responsible for their own fitness. The Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT), for example, has been made less of a chore for operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) who have to juggle family and work commitments. A stripped- down fitness test started more than two months ago.
For now, those who skip the IPPT three times will have to pay a $100 fine or be thrown into detention barracks, the army's equivalent of prison. The latter punishment, though, is rarely meted out.
Under a new three-strike rule, IPPT defaulters would have had to pay a monetary fine and gone through a five-day boot camp to get fit. Dubbed the In-Camp- Training (Physical Training), the fitness camp, a form of confinement, was to have started in the second half of this year.
Responding to queries from The Straits Times, the Defence Ministry did not explicitly say it was putting on hold the confinement of recalcitrant offenders.
The army's assistant chief of general staff (training), Colonel Ng Ying Thong, would say only that as the SAF gives servicemen greater ownership of their fitness, it will also "review the disciplinary framework for IPPT defaulters".
"Physical fitness is a personal responsibility... The SAF maintains a tough stand against IPPT defaulters, and disciplinary actions will be taken against NSmen who do not take their IPPT annually," said Col Ng, though he did not say what these actions were.
But ST understands that on the ground, unit commanders have told citizen soldiers that confinement is not likely to be imposed. Information on the disciplinary actions that IPPT defaulters face has also been removed from the ns.sg portal.
It is understood that the military top brass are still collating and studying the results of the revised IPPT to decide on more effective disciplinary actions.
The most recent figures given in 2010 by the Ministry of Defence showed that the test is failed by half of the 116,000 NSmen who take it every year.
Col Ng had told ST earlier that only a small number of NSmen repeatedly skip their IPPT.
Servicemen seem to be getting better scores in the new IPPT, which is made up of sit-ups, push-ups and a 2.4km run, and replaced a five-station physical fitness test.
In a trial involving some 5,000 servicemen late last year, most participants bettered their previous performances. For instance, 88 per cent of the trial participants did as many, if not more, sit-ups, while 73 per cent ran faster or maintained their timings during the 2.4km runs.
All combat-fit NSmen are required to take the IPPT at least once a year, starting from their birthday.