07 September 2010 -- The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) rolled out changes to its combat fitness training system on 1 Sep to meet an increasingly complex and urbanised operational environment, announced Chief of Army Major-General (MG) Chan Chun Sing on 7 Sep at Seletar Camp.
He said: "To better prepare our soldiers to meet evolving operational demands, the SAF has strengthened its combat fitness training system, leveraging advances in fitness training science."
The changes come in the form of modifications to the existing exercise regime, as well as a redesign of its Standard Obstacle Course (SOC). All SOC grounds will be updated by June 2011.
The first prong of the new system - termed Vocation Related Exercises (VREs) - aims to strengthen specific muscle groups that in-service personnel will use to carry out combat tasks specific to their vocations.
Elaborating on the VRE, Assistant Chief of the General Staff (Training) Colonel (COL) Ng Wai Kit gave an example from the artillery vocation, where the soldiers need more upper body strength to carry 155mm shells. So one of their VREs is the Dead Lift which involves lifting a weight from standing position.
Also part of the new system: six old obstacles have been replaced with seven redesigned ones within the existing obstacle course. "The new obstacles have been designed to better emulate the operating environment and will better develop soldiers' strength, agility and endurance for basic combat movement and tasks," said COL Ng.
For example, the third obstacle - named Rubble - trains soldiers to move through damaged urban spaces made up of collapsed concrete structures. To negotiate this obstacle, soldiers are expected to vault and duck in quick succession, mimicking the action of moving through urban rubble.
Familiar obstacles such as the Low Wall and Jacob's Ladder (now renamed Apex Ladder) also features in the redesigned SOC. These train basic confidence in executing combat manoeuvres and have been retained because of their relevance to the evolving operational demands, said COL Ng.
Progressive training will begin with recruits familiarising themselves with the obstacles and learning how to overcome them during Basic Military Training.
Tying it all back to the new combat fitness system that emphasises vocation-specific combat fitness, the Vocational Obstacle Course (VOC), which places greater emphasis on team-based fitness and leadership by junior commanders, was also unveiled. In the VOC, soldiers have to clear the redesigned combat obstacles as a section or a detachment and perform vocation-specific combat tasks along the way.
Pass timings are determined by the individual vocations' requirements, taking into consideration combat load, required actions by the team members and total distance covered. For example, while both Infantry and Artillery soldiers have to run a distance of 300m after clearing the obstacles, the former simulates evacuating an injured team member on a stretcher. These requirements - determined by a soldier's vocation - account for the differences in pass timings.
"These differences reflect the SAF's efforts to ensure that our combat fitness training programmes are customised to the vocations," said COL Ng.
The VOC has been implemented for all Regulars and Full-time National Servicemen and when they progress to Operationally Ready National Service. This will not apply to current batches of Operationally Ready National Servicemen.
Fact Sheet: strengthening combat fitness training for the 3rd generation SAF
As the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) develops into a full spectrum 3rd Generation force, it faces an increasingly complex and urbanised operational environment. To better prepare our soldiers to meet the evolving operational demands, the SAF has strengthened its combat fitness training system, leveraging on advances in fitness training science. The enhanced SAF combat fitness training system has two main components - the Vocation Related Exercises and the Obstacle Course. These revisions ensure that the SAF's combat fitness training is relevant, customised and progressive.
Vocation Related Exercises (VRE)
The VREs comprise a set of exercises customised to the different vocations in the SAF. The VREs are designed to strengthen specific muscle groups that a serviceman uses to carry out combat tasks in his vocation. These conditioning exercises can be performed indoor or outdoor with commonly available equipment.
The SAF has re-designed some of the obstacles in its existing obstacle course to better emulate the new operating environment. They will better develop the soldiers' strength, agility and endurance for basic combat movement and tasks.
The SAF has introduced a new Vocation Obstacle Course (VOC), while keeping the existing Standard Obstacle Course (SOC). Soldiers in the Basic Military Training, Specialist Cadet Course, and Officer Cadet Course will continue the current progressive training and individual qualification through the SOC with the re-designed obstacles. Soldiers in the units will embark on the new team-based VOC, which is customised to each vocation's combat skills and load, and places greater emphasis on team qualification led by section commanders.
The VREs have already been incorporated as part of the serviceman's training to improve his combat fitness. The current obstacle course will be re-designed in the next 12 months. The new VOC will be implemented for all regulars and full-time National Servicemen during their active service and when they progress to Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS). The new VOC will not apply to the current batches of NSmen.