SINGAPORE: Brigadier-General Tan Chee Wee has been appointed the first Inspector-General of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), the Defence Ministry announced on Friday (Feb 22).
BG Tan, who is currently Director of Joint Operations, will assume office on Feb 27. He will also concurrently assume the role of Chief of Staff – Joint Staff on the same day.
Last month, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) announced that an Inspector-General's Office will be set up to ensure that “command emphasis on safety” is applied and enforced across all units.
The announcement was among the safety measures being implemented by the SAF following the death of four soldiers in training over 18 months.
"I will work closely with the SAF senior leadership to make sure our people continue to have a culture whereby people train safe and they are protected while defending Singapore," said BG Tan, 44.
"I want to make sure that our soldiers and our commanders work towards zero training fatalities while they conduct realistic training."
BG Tan also stressed the importance of open reporting, which he said should be a safety norm.
This is to ensure that "soldiers and commanders can feel empowered and committed to open reporting without fear of reprisal", he said.
"Our commanders and soldiers need to look after one another. It must be second-nature to them to flag up unsafe practices or acts of non-compliance by their team-mates or even their commanders."
On Wednesday, BG Tan accompanied Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong to visit the Singapore Artillery 295th Battalion where they were briefed on the safety training operationally ready National Servicemen were undergoing as part of their training.
During the visit, BG Tan said that his immediate focus as Inspector-General is to introduce concrete actions to promote open reporting, ensure the quality of safety inspections and strengthen the safety culture across SAF.
In his statement, BG Tan added: “My immediate priority is to visit ground units across the SAF, and this will allow me to firstly assess the health of open reporting and safety culture in our units, and secondly, also evaluate the Service’s safety inspection system.
He will then recommend to the Chief of Defence Force proposals that will enhance the SAF’s safety management and strengthen its safety culture, he said.
“My team and I are committed to improve training safety in the SAF," he added.
In January, actor Aloysius Pang died due to injuries he sustained while carrying out repair work inside a Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer in New Zealand.
Two full-time national servicemen (NSF) have died in vehicle-related incidents - Corporal First Class Liu Kai in November last year and 3rd Sergeant Gavin Chan in September 2017.
Another NSF, Dave Lee, died last April after displaying signs of heat injury following a fast march.
BG Tan joined the SAF in 1993 as an Air Traffic Controller in the air force. He previously held a number of senior appointments in MINDEF and SAF, including Commander of Air Defence and Operations Command, Director of Policy Office, Defence Attaché (Washington) and Head of Air Plans.