Commanders who do not take care of their men will be stripped of rank
Commanders who fail to take care of their men will be stripped of their rank
If commanders cannot take care of their men, their rank will be removed, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in Parliament yesterday.
His remarks came after the deaths of two Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) full-time national servicemen over the past year. He added that the aim is to have zero fatalities, by emphasising safety during training.
Last September, Third Sergeant Gavin Chan, 21, died in Australia when the Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle he was guiding landed on its side.
On April 30, Corporal First Class (CFC) Dave Lee Han Xuan, 19, died in hospital from heatstroke.
Dr Ng said: "Commanders on the ground fully recognise this heavy responsibility, of keeping every son of Singapore safe during their National Service (NS) training, whether it is in the two years that they come full time for intensive training or each time they are called up after that.
"We must strive hard for zero training deaths because any death is one too many."
He added that a strong safety culture and zero fatality training system can be achieved only if each soldier has an ingrained concern for the well-being of his peers and himself.
If you do not know how to take care of your men and you have shown that you do not know how to take care of your men, we will remove your command position and we will remove your rank.Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen
Dr Ng said: "Commanders are taught to encourage their men and buddies to flag out when they do not feel well. Individual soldiers are advised to highlight risky behaviour and safety breaches and they can report them to their superiors without fear of reprisal."
He warned commanders to keep their men's safety as their top priority.
He said: "If you do not know how to take care of your men and you have shown that you do not know how to take care of your men, we will remove your command position and we will remove your rank."
Over the last 20 years, Singapore has had on average one NS training related death a year.
From 2013 to 2016, there were no NS training deaths.
In response to MP Vikram Nair's (Sembawang GRC) query on the alleged misconduct of commanders that led to CFC Lee's death, Dr Ng said if there were any culpable, they would be held responsible.
He added: "They'll be dealt with according to criminal law or in our military courts."
To prevent fatalities, he said the Ministry will work on making safety the top priority so soldiers are well-protected even as they defend Singapore.
Dr Ng added: "We will work in unison and instil in every commander and soldier a strong sense of responsibility in ensuring training safety at all levels."