The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will tighten training safety regulations for armoured vehicle commanders following the death of a full-time national serviceman (NSF) last September.
The tightened rules will limit the exposure of the vehicle commander's body to waist level when he is executing certain operational tasks in a vehicle, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said yesterday.
Last September, Third Sergeant Gavin Chan, 21, died during an annual military drill in Queensland, Australia, when the vehicle he was commanding landed on its side.
A Queensland coroner's report said it was unfortunate that he had positioned himself with a significant part of his body exposed outside the vehicle.
The Australian police did not find the vehicle defective, the coroner said, adding it was likely that the incident occurred due to 3SG Chan's decision to reverse on a slightly different path down the hill. As a result, he was ejected from the vehicle and suffered significant injuries when it landed on its side, said the coroner.
In his ministerial statement, Dr Ng said the SAF has followed up on the incident and implemented additional training for armoured vehicle commanders over uneven terrain. He said the findings from the Australian authorities are corroborated by those of a Committee of Inquiry convened to look into the incident.
ANSWERS WILL BE GIVEN
We want to assure the parents of any unfortunate national serviceman who has died that facts will be established... Neither should we go on a witch-hunt if there are honest mistakes because the commanders are someone else's son too.
DEFENCE MINISTER NG ENG HEN (above).
But the committee also found that the night vision device on 3SG Chan's vehicle was not working.
According to training safety regulations, vehicle commanders should immediately stop the vehicle and stop participating in the exercise if the device is faulty.
The committee proposed that the SAF review training safety rules on the position of the armoured vehicle commander. It also recommended stronger compliance and checks on night vision devices, and penalising those who do not wear seat belts when a vehicle is moving.
In response, the SAF has implemented a drill to formalise the operational procedure for day-to-night and night-to-day transitions. This includes a check on night vision devices and other night-fighting equipment, said Dr Ng, adding that there will be checks on seat belts.
"Disciplinary actions will be taken against those found in breach of safety," he said.