SINGAPORE - The foot soldiers of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will get 50 to 60 per cent more hands-on experience with firing live rounds during combat training, as the SAF increasingly equips soldiers with the skills to fight in the urban zone.
With modern battles more likely to be fought in dense urbanised areas, soldiers need to be put under realistic firefight conditions that require them to be skilled in firing live rounds in close-quarter combat, said Chief Infantry Officer Chiang Hock Woon.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday at the launch of a new live-firing area, Brigadier-General Chiang, who is also the commander of the 9th Division, said : "Close coordination and precise shooting are very critical components in successful missions."
Dubbed the Murai Urban Live-Firing Facility, the mock urban combat zone will put more soldiers through their paces in firing live rounds in enclosed rooms housed within five single- and double-storey buildings.
More than 120 soldiers in an infantry company can mount an assault on buildings, learn how to discern between friendly or hostile targets, before taking them down.
Other urban operations firing ranges can only allow up to a group of seven soldiers in a shoot-out.
The area, the size of about two to three football fields, will also feature a first-of-its-kind grenade house that will give soldiers more opportunities to lob grenades to get a keener sense of the impact of the blast.
With the change,a national serviceman in an infantry unit will get to throw live grenades up to five times during their active National Service and reservist stints . Previously, they only throw the grenades once or twice.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said fighting in concrete jungles will become a more likely scenario, so soldiers must be "instinctively trained" under realistic conditions so they will have the confidence to survive in the heat of an urban battle.
"This kind of facility gives them the kind of repetitive training so that it is not a new environment (to soldiers)."