Friday, January 12, 2007
ICT & Defence Budget
First of all, I must thank all of those who have come forward to shake my hands during the ICT period. I know some of you visited my blog quite often and I thank you for all your support.
Although it may just be a little handshake or just a short phrase of encouragement, but it means alot to us, people who are walking on the thin line on the political front. Your little gesture will leave a lasting impression and become a long lasting source of motivation for me to carry on my political work. Thank you.
Although this recent ICT I have is a short one (low key) which involves only range, but it has given me much food for thought. Shooting skill is the most basic skill of any soldier. Thus it is important for the army to provide adequate training to all its soldiers in shooting.
I must say I am impressed by the vast improvement in the accommodation that the Army has provided in the new training centre. The bunk is spacious and the bed is comfortable. In terms of infrastructure wise, the Army has come a long way in improving the basic necessities for NSmen who come back for training.
Unfortunately, while the Army spent money in improving such accommodation and buying high end world class weapons like the Leopard Tanks, it has neglected the most basic need for a soldier; the range that provide the ground to train soldiers with the basic skill of shooting.
Before the range, we are given the opportunity to go through a simulated range, IMT. This was widely publicised as a high tech approach to train shooting skill. However, to our dismay, the program that was provided by the IMT is outdated.
Our battalion was supposed to have range at one single location initially. But due to the breakdown of one part of the facility, half of the battalion has to be moved to somewhere else. This is definitely not good to keep the integrity of the whole battalion intact.
When the range started, there were problems with the facilities. Range has to be stopped intermittantly just to rectify the problems. I was told that similar problems occur in the other range as well! Time was wasted in waiting for such problems to be rectified.
After the range, during the post mortem for the ICT, we have raised the problems we faced during range and it seems that this is not a new problem at all. We were told that G6 Army has been informed of such problems before but apparently no improvement has been made. As for the program for the IMT, we were told that it will cost millions to change the program.
I was quite angry to receive such answers although I know it is not within the powers of the trainers to make amends to such situation. Huge amount of money is spent by Mindef to recall its NSmen back every year for training. Yet, Mindef does not feel that it is a waste of money if the facilities for training of critical skills like shooting is not maintained properly or up to date in order to achieve the necessary standards? I mean if you spend millions each year to get NSmen back for training but training objectives are compromised just because of ill maintained training facilities, isn't a waste of money and NSmen's precious time?
Defence Budget takes a huge pie off the annual government budget every year. It is the largest single item in the annual budget. While it is important for us to buy new high tech equipment, but I think training facilities for our NSmen is of equal importance as well.
Shooting is the most basic skills of a soldier and it should deserve a better maintained training facilities than what we have now. Imagine if we ever being called up for war, the very first thing that we do is to get our men equipped and zero their weapons. If our range is not well maintained, the readiness of our men will be greatly compromised. We could have all the most advanced equipment we could get in the world but if our soldiers cannot shoot straight, all will be lost!
Goh Meng Seng