SAF training intensified for military vehicle operations

All armour training for exercise in Australia also completed without any safety incident

Training has been intensified for army commanders and operators of military vehicles when moving on uneven terrain, including for this year's Exercise Wallaby, the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) largest overseas drill.

All armour training for the exercise in Australia, which began in September, has also been completed without any safety incidents, said Exercise Wallaby's director and Chief Guards Officer, Colonel Seet Uei Lim, yesterday.

The additional training was one of the measures adopted in May, following the death of a Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle commander during Exercise Wallaby in September last year.

Third Sergeant (3SG) Gavin Chan's vehicle had entered an area with a steep incline at night. He dismounted and saw a boulder was blocking the vehicle. When he remounted the Bionix and wanted to reverse, the vehicle overturned and 3SG Chan, 21, was thrown out.

Other measures recommended by a Committee of Inquiry (COI) that looked into his death have also been implemented. These include tighter training safety regulations to limit exposure of the armoured vehicle commander's body when executing certain tasks, drills for day-to-night and night-to-day transitions, and enforcing the wearing of seat belts.

In an e-mail interview, Col Seet said the recommended measures have been implemented in armour training and in units operating on armoured platforms, and this year's participating units have undergone the required competency and build-up training.

Col Seet said all vehicle operators and commanders have gone through the mandatory Overseas Advanced Driving Training orientation package. It includes day and night driving across creeks, bridges and off-road terrain.

 
 

The annual Exercise Wallaby in Rockhampton, eastern Australia, is the SAF's largest overseas exercise, involving air, land and sea components. It is held at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, which is about four times the size of Singapore. Over 3,800 personnel from the SAF are taking part this year.

Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How will make a trip to Australia from today to Nov 13 to visit Singapore troops participating in Exercise Trident, said a Ministry of Defence statement yesterday. Exercise Trident, being held from Oct 31 to Nov 14, is the third phase of Exercise Wallaby and the signature bilateral exercise between the SAF and the Australian Defence Force.

Mr Heng will officiate at commemorative events for the 20th anniversary of the Republic of Singapore Air Force's training at Oakey and its 25th anniversary at Pearce.

Col Seet said Exercise Wallaby, which began in 1990, remains the SAF's key exercise for integrated tri-service training in a realistic and challenging environment.

"Shoalwater Bay Training Area's large training space allows the SAF to conduct exercises of a scale, scope and complexity which cannot be done in Singapore given our constraints," he said.

Meanwhile, the SAF is conducting a COI to look into the death of a full-time national serviceman last Saturday. Corporal First Class Liu Kai, 22, was killed during a training exercise in Jalan Murai when a Bionix vehicle reversed into the Land Rover he was operating.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2018, with the headline 'SAF training intensified for military vehicle operations'. Print Edition | Subscribe