The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) announced on Friday (22 February) that it has appointed Brigadier-General Tan Chee Wee as its first Inspector General to oversee training safety.
BG Tan, currently the Director of Joint Operations, will assume office on 27 February, and will also concurrently take on the appointment of Chief of Staff-Joint Staff on the same day.
The appointment is part of a series of measures that SAF will undertake following a recent spate of training deaths of national servicemen.
Three areas of focus for BG Tan
BG Tan said in the SAF’s media release that his immediate focus as Inspector General is to introduce concrete actions in three areas:
Promoting open reporting
Ensuring the quality of safety inspections
Strengthening the safety culture across the SAF.
BG Tan will be visiting ground units across the SAF to assess the health of open reporting and safety culture among the units. His office will also make independent assessments on the units’ safety inspection system, and ensure that they adopt stringent benchmarks for safety performance and culture of their units.
“With these findings, I will then recommend to the Chief of Defence Force (CDF) proposals that will further enhance the SAF’s safety management as well as strengthen its safety culture,” he said.
“Our commanders and soldiers need to look after one another. It must be second nature for them to flag up unsafe practices or acts of non-compliance by their team-mates or even their commanders.”
Briefed on safety training
BG Tan joined the SAF in 1993 as an Air Traffic Controller in the Republic of Singapore Air Force. Prior to his current appointment, he held a diverse range of senior appointments in the Ministry of Defence and the SAF, including Commander of Air Defence and Operations Command, Director of Policy Office, Defence Attache (Washington), and Head of Air Plans.
He accompanied CDF Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong to visit the 295th Battalion, Singapore Artillery on Wednesday, where they were briefed on the safety training that servicemen do as part of their in-camp training.
Death of Aloysius Pang
The Inspector-General’s Office was announced on 31 January, following the death of actor Aloysius Pang during a military exercise in New Zealand on 23 January, the fourth SAF training-related fatality since September 2017.
Other moves to ensure safety processes and practices at all levels in the SAF include increasing the number of safety inspection teams and full-time safety officers to perform checks and audits on unit-level safety systems in the army, as well as reviewing whether to scale back its exercises, redesigning and even removing selected training courses.