SINGAPORE: Safety compliance will be given added weight in the performance assessment of Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) unit commanders, as part of a move to improve the safety culture.
“The performance assessment of commanders will be more tightly coupled with safety compliance, while ensuring a healthy and open reporting culture for safety,” SAF head joint manpower department Colonel (COL) Goh Si Mien said on Friday (Feb 22) in response to queries from Channel NewsAsia.
“Unit commanders who have failed to comply with safety procedures and processes are charged under the military justice system. They may also be subject to penalties on their bonuses, increments and/or promotions.”
It comes after Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen revealed on Feb 11 during a ministerial statement in Parliament that unit commanders found to have committed safety lapses will be penalised during their performance review, even if accidents have not occurred.
Four SAF soldiers have died since September 2017 while they were on training exercises.
READ: ‘I am deeply sorry for the loss’: Ng Eng Hen on recent NS training deaths, vows accountability for every soldier
COL Goh said the latest move is part of the SAF’s “continuous efforts” to build a strong safety culture and strengthen compliance.
“Commanders are assessed on various factors, including the operational readiness of his unit, the unit’s safety standards and his soldiers’ adherence to safety procedures and processes,” he added.
Beyond safety, COL Goh stated that commanders are responsible for the training, welfare and discipline of their men.
“Parents entrust their sons to the SAF to prepare and train them to defend Singapore,” he said. “This is a heavy responsibility that we do not take lightly.”
On Friday, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) announced that Brigadier-General (BG) Tan Chee Wee has been appointed the SAF’s first Inspector-General, which means he will lead the Inspector-General’s Office (IGO).
The IGO was set up following the recent National Service training deaths to ensure a command emphasis on safety across all SAF units, with BG Tan vowing to ensure soldiers and commanders work towards zero training fatalities while conducting realistic training.
“We will continue to enhance our safety systems and ensure that the processes in place remain sound and robust as part of our efforts to instil a strong safety culture in the SAF,” COL Goh said.