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31 Jan 2019
Ministry of Defense
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NS reservist died during repair of SSPH

I was angry when I read this media statement about the Singapore Self Propelled Howitzer (SSPH).

"In the last 15 years of SSPH operations (since its commission in 2003), there has not been any reported injury of servicemen due to the gun lowering for maintenance or operating in or firing of the SSPH,” said the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) in a media statement on Wednesday (31 January).

In the same period, more than 1,000 servicemen, National Service (NS)men, and regulars have been trained to operate the SSPH, with around 12,500 rounds fired, it added."

This media statement seems to suggest that it is the fault of the reservist who died in the accident. 

I ask the Ministry of Defense to consider the following perspective. 

The SSPH can be safe it is is operated by regulars or full time NS men. As they are under training all the time, they can focus on the training and on the safety aspects of the training.

It is a different matter when the operation involves reservists who are called back for a short period and there was a long gap from the previous training.

They may forget about the operational details. They may also be distracted with the issues of their full time jobs. The risk becomes much higher. 

Do we need so many reservists to be operationally ready. Are we imposing a heavy risks to these reservists by expecting them to be operationally ready many years after they have completed their full time service?

I suggest that the reservist call up cycle be reduced to five or three years.

Tan Kin Lian


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