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Jermyn Chow
Thursday, Jul 3, 2014

Singapore

IPPT to become simpler, with fewer test items: Ng Eng Hen

The Straits Times | Jermyn Chow | Thursday, Jul 3, 2014

Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen told delegates at the forum's closing session yesterday that it was an issue the region was still "grappling with".

Every career and citizen soldier will find it easier to train for - maybe even pass - his annual physical fitness test, as the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) finalises changes to simplify the Individual Physical Proficiency Test, or IPPT.

The highly anticipated move, the first in more than 30 years, will likely include scrapping some test stations. The aim is to make the IPPT "simpler to administer and simpler to train for", said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

Today's IPPT has five stations: the chin-up, standing broad jump, 4x10m shuttle, sit-up and 2.4km run.

Noting that most armed forces around the world "use simpler tests" with fewer components, Dr Ng said the Singapore Army has studied their fitness tests and "found a format that meets its needs which you can do with fewer stations and... is able to maintain the fitness standards or at least signal the fitness standards".

Dr Ng, however, did not disclose the changes during his annual media interview ahead of SAF Day today. The new IPPT will be announced by army chief Perry Lim "within the next few months", he added.

But Dr Ng said the changes will let SAF servicemen, including active personnel and operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen), "train in (their) own environment for types of exercises which are simpler to do".

About 116,000 men take the IPPT every year with about 50 per cent of NSmen passing the test every year. Failing it means the serviceman has to undergo remedial training.

Dr Ng said the SAF will still keep the IPPT as a "marker of fitness" and servicemen must put in effort in training for it. But "simpler is not easier", he stressed, as IPPT changes will be made "without diluting fitness standards".

He added: "We want a fit SAF, and a fit SAF is a desired goal and a good goal for all Singaporeans."

The Straits Times reported last October that likely IPPT changes could include axing the standing broad jump station and adding push-ups as a testing criterion.

The upcoming changes will put the SAF test in line with its US and Australian counterparts, which have three or four test components.

The impending changes follow the Government's approval last month of 30 proposals made by the Committee to Strengthen National Service to better recognise NSmen and boost public buy-in for the conscription scheme that started in 1967.

One of the proposals will be implemented today, with NSmen no longer required to report to the SAF when going overseas, unless the trip exceeds 14 days.

NSmen will also get up to twice the current timeframe to pass their IPPT and complete remedial training.

In his interview, Dr Ng stressed the changes do not mean the SAF is getting "softer". Rather, it is a response to a new generation of servicemen, with a different psychological make-up.

"It is, in a sense, not taking that strictly dogmatic approach but being flexible and listening to the NSmen, responding to them."

jermync@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 01, 2014.
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