Safety measures for military vehicle operations implemented in Exercise Wallaby this year, following NSF's death

Soldiers from the 1st Guards Battalion giving a thumbs-up sign after they board a mock-up of a helicopter as part of their rehearsals on the procedures to follow when boarding and disembarking. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
An RSAF personnel checks the wheels as part of the procedure to ready the Chinook for flight at Warriors Camp in this year's Exercise Wallaby. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

ROCKHAMPTON (Queensland) - 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' largest overseas drill.

All armour training for the exercise in Australia, which began in September, have also been completed without any safety incidents, said Exercise Wallaby's director and Chief Guards Officer, Colonel Seet Uei Lim, on Thursday (Nov 8).

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

Third Sergeant Gavin Chan's vehicle had entered an area with a steep incline at night. He dismounted and saw that a boulder was blocking the vehicle.

When he remounted the Bionix and wanted to reverse away from the area, 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 with The Straits Times, Col Seet said the measures recommended by the COI have been implemented in armour training and in units operating on armoured platforms.

He added that participating units this year have undergone the required competency and build-up training.

Col Seet said that all vehicle operators and commanders have gone through the mandatory Overseas Advanced Driving Training orientation package.

The training includes day and night driving across creeks, bridges and off-road terrain.

The annual Exercise Wallaby in Rockhampton in 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.

More than 3,800 personnel from the SAF are taking part this year.

Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How will visit Australia from Friday to Nov 13 to visit Singapore troops participating in Exercise Trident, said a Mindef statement on Thursday.

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 also officiate at the commemorative events for the 20th anniversary of 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 the conduct of 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.

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