Safety is still the top priority for Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) soldiers in their realistic training, said Second Minister of Defence Ong Ye Kung in his first visit to Exercise Wallaby- a military exercise that involves about 4000 SAF personnel and culminates in a bilateral drill between Singapore and Australia.
He added that although risks are always present in military exercises, the main objective for SAF is to reduce them with the right measures and training.
Mr Ong’s comments come after the death of Third Sergeant Gavin Chen, on 15 September, in an earlier phase of Exercise Wallaby.
Mr Ong shared that the mindset of commanders to prioritise safety makes a difference.
“Their mindset decides the safety culture of the organisation…Here, what I saw are commanders very committed to the safety of our soldiers,” said Mr Ong.
Mr Ong also said he saw "a very strong determination, commitment and professionalism to carry out these exercises effectively and successfully", even though the death of 3SG Chan still weighed heavily on the troops, whose exercise will end on 4 November.
Despite the incident, public confidence in SAF's overseas exercises remains high, said Mr Ong.
"Regardless of the public reaction to the incident, this is something we put a very serious emphasis on internally and that is what the Ministry of Defence, the SAF and all the commanders have done.
"That gives me a very strong impression that nothing is taken for granted," he added.
Exercise Wallaby is held yearly at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, around 140km north of Rockhampton, Queensland, since 1990 and this year’s exercise runs from 14 to 28 October.
Source: “Safety still top priority for SAF amid tough traning: Ong Ye Kung”, The Straits Times, 10 October 2017.