Friday 25 July 2014

New 3-station IPPT from 1 April 2015

Easier IPPT will not mean lower fitness standards: Army chief
Revised test 'will ensure servicemen are fully fit to perform their duties'
By Jermyn Chow, The Straits Times, 25 Jul 2014

THE revised Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) might be easier for servicemen to train for and pass, but it will still ensure that they meet fitness standards required of them to perform their operational roles, said army chief Perry Lim.

The major-general gave this assurance on Wednesday after he announced details of a simplified IPPT with three components instead of the current five.

From April next year, members of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) need clear only the 2.4km run, sit-up station and a new push-up station.

The Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force will also use the new test for Home Team servicemen next year.

Instead of having to meet a passing mark for each component, servicemen will clock the fastest time for the run and count their personal best for how many sit-ups and push-ups they can do in a minute. Points will then be accumulated from all three stations.

As servicemen grow older and their fitness levels drop, the required performance standards will change every three years, instead of the current five.

The new IPPT will do without three components: the 4x10m shuttle run, standing broad jump and chin-up stations. The last two have drawn complaints from servicemen who failed them and were sent for remedial training.

While more participants are likely to pass the new IPPT, the changes have raised concern among servicemen that the new fitness test will lower the bar.

Maj-Gen Lim defended the move to have fewer stations, saying the military already has a comprehensive combat fitness test regime in place.

Implemented in 2010, this requires combat-fit career soldiers and full-time national servicemen to clear obstacles that mimic hazards on the modern battlefield, such as blind corners, falling rubble, sewers and long corridors.

Maj-Gen Lim said soldiers already "execute movements that require them to also manage or carry their body weight".

While most operationally ready national servicemen do not have to do combat drills, many undergo route marches and "physically rigorous field exercises that require them to apply many parts of their body", he added.

The new format is also aimed at motivating fitter servicemen to excel and less fit ones to train.

Maj-Gen Lim said that once regular exercise becomes part of a serviceman's lifestyle, "the IPPT is just testing what they do on a regular basis".

He said: "We would like to see more passes from our NSmen, and these will come from a greater motivation to train for IPPT."

At least 3,000 servicemen and women will be put through their paces in a three-month trial of the new IPPT starting in September.

Depending on how well participants fare, Maj-Gen Lim said, the SAF would be "prepared to adjust" performance standards. He added that for a period of one to two years, servicemen would get to choose whether they take the current IPPT or the new one.

Dr Bervyn Lee, a member of the army fitness advisory board, said that while the new IPPT is easier, it should not limit the way servicemen keep fit. He said: "We shouldn't need the SAF or anyone to tell us 'I'm going to test you on these items, so you should be fit only for these items'."

The revised IPPT format: What you need to know
What you already knew: Three stations, not five. No more pull-ups, standing broad jump and shuttle run. The Chief of Army and other top officials met with the media to give more details on the proposed changes, which they said will kick in by April 1, 2015.
By Leong Wai Kit, Channel NewsAsia, 24 Jul 2014

On Wednesday (July 23), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced on Facebook that the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) will be revised to three stations from the current five. This was followed by a media briefing in which Chief of Army, Major-General Perry Lim; Colonel Ng Ying Thong, Assistant Chief of General Staff (Training); and Director, National Service Affairs, Brigadier-General (NS) Tung Yui Fai, took questions on the changes.

“The main aim was really to have a simpler format that they can train for. That is the main aim,” said the Chief of Army.


Just three stations: A 2.4km run, sit-ups, and a new discipline that will be familiar to all National Servicemen: Push-ups. Gone are the standing broad jump, pull-ups and the shuttle run, in the first change of IPPT format since 1982.


Participants will be allocated points for their performance in each of the three stations, with a maximum of 50 points awarded for the 2.4km run and 25 points each for the push-up and sit-up stations – for a maximum score of 100 points.

The total points that an individual scores in each of the three stations will determine whether he passes or fails, and whether he gets a monetary award. For example, an NSman will need a total of more than 50 points for a pass, and more than 80 points for a Gold award. Commandos, divers and guardsmen will need at least 85 points to score Gold.

Scoring will also be divided into more age categories, based on smaller age bands of three years each, rather than five. Goodbye, Cat Z.


Defence Minister Ng said on Wednesday that “this new format will make it simpler for NSmen to train for IPPT – and for more to pass”. But as for scoring well …

Said MG Lim: “In designing the new IPPT format and scoring system, it was very important that we uphold the standards of physical fitness that we require of our soldiers. So, in order to achieve the Gold and Silver standards, it will be just as challenging as before.

“As to why it seems easier for people who are less fit to get points: This new system is to motivate those who are very fit to excel. We designed it such that for those who really want to score 25 for push-ups or sit-ups, or to score 50 for the run, it becomes more and more difficult.

“I think that servicemen should give this IPPT format a try first before they come to any conclusions.”


Yes, if you score zero points. “At the least, NSmen must achieve one point for each of the stations,” said Col Ng.


The new IPPT format will be implemented SAF-wide, for regulars and NSFs as well as NSmen, from April 1, 2015. The Ministry of Home Affairs said on Wednesday the Home Team, consisting of the police and Singapore Civil Defence Forces, will adopt the new format in 2015.

“A pilot implementation of the new IPPT format will take place from September to November this year. We are looking at around 10 to 12 active units and up to eight NS units who are returning to camp for their In-Camp Training during this period. So we will try to cover servicemen from across all age bands, vocations and gender,” said MG Lim.

He added that they are prepared to adjust the scoring table after the pilot this year, if needed.


First, the combat readiness of soldiers is now being tested in other ways.

“Over the last few years, we have implemented a revised combat fitness training and test regime for our soldiers and this is in the form of the new standard obstacle course (SOC), vocation obstacle course (VOC) and vocation-related exercises (VRE). Our soldiers also continue to build their combat fitness through route marches as well as participation in field exercises,” said MG Lim. “Having implemented an effective combat fitness regime, we are now able to simplify the IPPT format to one that is still an effective measure of basic physical fitness of our soldiers.”

Second, it’s a move to make fitness less of a burden, and more of a lifestyle.

“We want to change the perception of IPPT: From being an imposition on the lives of our NSmen to one that encourages them to make physical fitness and physical training a part of their lifestyles. The format has been simplified such that NSmen can train in their own time without the need for specialised equipment. I think the best outcome for the army is that our NSmen can adopt these three stations as part of their regular exercise regime, such that IPPT is just testing what they do on a regular basis,” said MG Lim.


“In designing the IPPT format, we wanted to focus on three groups – one is the upper body muscular strength and endurance (push-ups); the second is the core body strength and endurance (sit-ups); and of course, the 2.4km run,” said MG Lim.

“As for the push-ups station which is new, we take reference from the US Army. And I think you will also have done your research I am sure, that some of the conscript militaries like Korea has also adopted these three stations.”

“In terms of pull-ups, in our combat fitness training regime, like the SOC and the VOCs, our soldiers are required to execute movements that require them to also manage or carry their body weight. So in that sense chin-ups are taken care of. Also, although it is not tested as part of the three stations, our soldiers in active units and leadership schools will still be doing chin-ups as part of their daily routine.”


“We’re going to leave the chin up bars there, obviously, because it is still an excellent exercise,” said MG Lim. As for the others – “I don’t see the harm of leaving them there,’ said BG Tung.


Yes, for one to two years from April 1, 2015.

“We’re prepared to give our NSmen an option to do either the existing IPPT format which is the five-station format, or the new IPPT format for another … one to two years after 1 April next year. So they will have an option, depending on which format they are prepared and comfortable with at that point in time,” said MG Lim.


Under the proposed changes, an NSman’s window to take and pass his IPPT is up to a full year from the current nine months, with a further 12 months to complete remedial training. The reason: Flexibility of scheduling, said MG Lim.

“When we give our NSmen up to 12 months to train for their IPPT and up to 12 months to complete their RT sessions, we also encourage them that they need to do it regularly. That means that you don’t space out all your sessions across all 12 months, but we do tell them that you need to do it within a certain period. It’s just that giving them 12 months will give them some flexibility. They still need to exercise regularly, at least twice a week,” said the Chief of Army.


No. "We think that some of our NSmen will still need help as we move to a three-station IPPT format, so we will retain the IPT (IPPT Preparatory Training) as well as the RT (Remedial Training) sessions and conduct them in our Fitness Conditioning Centres. So that will still remain," said MG Lim.


At the tertiary levels, yes, but it’s not yet clear to what extent. And not so much at Primary and Secondary School.

Said MG Lim: “In terms of the actual details, we’re still working out with the Ministry of Education.”

New format won't give NSmen chance to slack off
By Jermyn Chow, The Straits Times, 25 Jul 2014

YOU could almost hear a collective sigh of relief from combat-fit NSmen when Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced the latest changes to the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT).

The new-look physical fitness test that the military, police and civil defence forces will use from April next year has been simplified from what used to be an onerous five-station undertaking into a lighter three-station test.

Every year, NSmen need tackle only a 2.4km run, sit-ups and push-ups to pass and earn cash awards of up to $500.

An ankle injury put me out of the IPPT circuit for more than a decade, so I will most likely be taking the new test next year.

I will probably have less to worry about, since the chin-ups, standing broad jump and 4x10m shuttle run have been scrapped.

When I was an 18-year-old soldier, I just about earned a silver award, after being tripped up by the chin-ups - my personal best was eight - and the 2.4km run, which took me 10min 30sec.

This time, as I reach the age of 34, the maths to a silver, if not a gold, might not be as daunting. I must do 35 sit-ups and the same number of push-ups within a minute, and clock a maximum of 10:41 in the run.

Before the test was overhauled, a gold would have meant more than 36 sit-ups, a leap of more than 225cm in the broad jump, a shuttle run within 10.5sec, finishing my 2.4km run in less than 10 minutes and getting my chin over the bar at least eight times.

The new IPPT could be my best chance to not just pocket $500, but earn bragging rights for being certified as being in the top grade.

Some might feel that I am underestimating the newly added push-ups.

On paper, the gold requirements do not look overly tough.

After all, most people of my vintage would have seen more punishing routines during national service, when we had to do over 50 push-ups at one go.

But doing 35 within a minute is quite different.

Even those who hope to qualify for the elite United States Navy Seals have double the time to complete at least 42 push-ups, although most in the unit have no trouble exceeding this easily.

So the decision to replace the dreaded chin-ups with push-ups might not be a short cut after all.

Army chief Perry Lim says they are also "a very good test of upper-body muscular strength and endurance".

The most convenient and effective way to build up the stamina required, says personal trainer Chris Chew, who trains people to pass the IPPT, is to do push-ups at home regularly, in addition to gym routines to bulk up the chest.

And there is no running away either from the 2.4km station, especially when it accounts for half of the new 100-point IPPT test.

In the Israeli Defence Forces' three-station fitness test, the 2km run category carries an even heavier weighting of 70 per cent.

The 2.4km run, one of the top complaints about the IPPT, should be easier to pass now, especially since slow timings can be made up for with good showings in push-ups and sit-ups.

But it is also the best measure of cardiovascular endurance, said Mr Chew, which is why there is an extra emphasis on running.

All things considered, the new IPPT might seem easier, but this is no reason for me to slack off.

New IPPT test format draws flak, support
By Xue Jianyue, Channel NewsAsia25 Jul 2014

The new Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) format has drawn support from some quarters, but also flak from some fitness experts.

Professor John Wang, a sport and exercise psychologist at the National Institute of Education (NIE) felt the shake-up to the format is the right move and that NSmen may be more motivated to train now that the test is easier to pass. NSmen will also maximise efforts to score under the new scoring system to compensate for their weaker stations and this extra effort will lead to fitness improvements, he said.

Fitness consultant Rick Wong, however, said the new IPPT could result in NSmen training specifically for one station and they might not necessarily be militarily fit. Mr Wong, who has two decades of experience in the health and fitness field, noted that Singapore has taken reference from the United States Army three-station fitness test but added that the US has a professional army.

“Obviously, (NSmen) fitness levels will not be comparable to that of a professional soldier who is training, doing drills every day,” he said.

And while one reason why the IPPT format was simplified was so NSmen can train for the IPPT on their own, without the need for “specialised equipment”, Mr Wong pointed out that pull-ups bars are readily available. “I think most NSmen live in HDB blocks and so on, there are parks and fitness corners which all have a chin-up bar,” he said.

However, Mr Oh Beng Soon, a former infantry commander, felt that removing the pull-up will not necessarily affect combat fitness. Noting that fitness experts had said pull-ups are crucial to the ability to scale walls or climb ropes, Mr Oh said technique and teamwork are used in performing these actions. He felt that by simplifying the test and making it simpler for NSmen to train, they will train harder and become fitter overall.

Dr Beryvn Lee, a member of the Army Fitness Advisory Board, who was also present at the interview with Chief of Army Perry Lim, conceded that the new IPPT is easier to pass, but stressed that doing well still requires training. When asked if the new test is compromising on fitness standards, Dr Lee said the answer will “come out in time”, and time is also needed for the new push-up station to develop its norms and standards.

Operationally Ready National Servicemen TODAY spoke to said the new IPPT will be easier to pass. Those who fail only pull-ups and standing broad jump will have a chance at passing through the three stations, said NSman Eugene Tay.

IPPT simplified to just three test stations
Test will comprise sit-ups, push-ups, 2.4km run to make passing easier
By Jermyn Chow, The Straits Times, 24 Jul 2014

THE new Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) for servicemen will have just three categories, so more people are likely to pass.

It will comprise the 2.4km run, sit-ups and a new category - push-ups - and candidates will not have to pass the minimum mark for every station to make the grade.

On the chopping block are the much-dreaded standing broad jump, the 4x10m shuttle run, and chin-ups.

The new test is similar to those used in other countries, such as the United States, to keep their forces fit, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who announced it on his Facebook page yesterday.

The changes, the first since 1982, aim to make the test "simpler to administer and simpler to train for", he said earlier.

Details on when the new fitness test will kick in and the scoring systems will be announced by army chief Perry Lim today.

Dr Ng said yesterday that he expects more operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) to pass under the new format.

It will feature a new scoring system and more age bands that stipulate the standards that different age groups have to meet.

These could make it easier for those in the Singapore Armed Forces, police and civil defence forces to pass and qualify for cash rewards.

Career soldiers and full-time national servicemen will, however, have to meet existing passing marks to get the monetary awards.

Also new: Servicemen will not have to meet a minimum mark for each test. Instead, they will be able to accumulate points.

This way, soldiers can do more sit-ups, for instance, to make up for their weaker performance in push-ups and the 2.4km run, said Dr Ng.

"There's a limit to how much you can make up, but I like this counting system because it encourages NSmen to max out on each station and it plays to the individual's strengths," he wrote.

Currently, an NSman between 25 and 29 has to complete his 2.4km run within 12min 40sec, do 30 or more sit-ups, and meet minimum standards in the three other exercises to pass and qualify for a $100 cash award.

About 116,000 men take the IPPT every year, and only half pass. Failing it means the serviceman has to do remedial training and take the test again until he passes.

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.

Chin-ups, standing broad jump and the 2.4km run are the most complained about by servicemen who usually fail these tests.

But a simpler test does not necessarily mean servicemen can slack off.

"Even though the new IPPT is simpler to train for, it will still take effort and regular exercise to pass. And that's the idea - keeping healthy and fit should be a lifestyle and it's good for you," said Dr Ng.

Mr Alex Yam, deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs, said the simplified IPPT has been "a long time coming" for NSmen who have to juggle work and NS commitments, and often struggle to make time to attend remedial training when they fail the IPPT.

"Now, there are too many stations. The new test is not about how much of a superman you are but about how well-trained you can be," he said.

Fitness experts concerned over new IPPT
By Lee Jian Xuan, The Straits Times, 24 Jul 2014

WHILE most national servicemen welcomed changes to the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) that make it easier to train for, many echoed concerns of fitness experts that the new test will not reflect if soldiers are wholly ready for combat.

The new IPPT format will comprise three stations - push-ups, sit-ups and the 2.4km run - and is similar to those used by other militaries, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen wrote in a Facebook post yesterday.

Netizens on his Facebook page had mixed reactions to the changes, with some questioning if the new test would be too easy.

The removal of three other stations also raised concerns among some fitness experts.

Director of Genesis gym Jonathan Wong, who conducts IPPT training, told The Straits Times that while the new test was "significantly easier", it might undermine combat fitness standards.

"Some of these items like the chin-up train our soldiers' combat fitness. You need that upper body strength to pull yourself up a rope or a wall, or the speed and agility in shuttle run to run from cover to cover," he said.

Training for the standing broad jump, which is the hardest item, also improves strength, flexibility and endurance, he added.

Fitness consultant Rick Wong, 44, felt the new test was a response to popular demand and a "watering down" of standards.

He noted that the change in the scoring format to let soldiers combine points earned from the stations, could lead to "lopsided and imbalanced" fitness levels.

"We might get soldiers who lack upper body strength but are good at cardio," said Mr Wong.

Operationally ready serviceman Lee Song Lim, 25, also saw some shortcomings in the new format. "It's good for NSmen and working adults but I feel that it doesn't test the whole body," he said.

But for others like project engineer Andrew Goh, 27, who has needed remedial training to get through the IPPT, passing will now be less onerous.

"If there are only two other stations, I think I have a real shot at passing if I train hard for the run," he said.

7 in 10 NSmen in their 30s fail annual IPPT: training expert
The failure rate rises as NSmen age, and chin-ups, the standing broad jump, and the 2.4km run are the most challenging stations
By Leong Wai Kit, Channel NewsAsia, 21 Jul 2014

Seven in 10 National Servicemen in their 30s fail their annual Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT), and this failure rate rises as the NSmen age. This is based on the experience of a former head of physical training in the army, Mr Edwin Ong, who spoke to Channel NewsAsia following the news that the IPPT will be made simpler.

It is unclear what changes will be announced, and when they will be announced. Currently, said Mr Ong, IPPT problem areas for NSmen are chin-ups, the standing broad jump, and the 2.4km stations.

There are specific reasons the current IPPT stations are part of a serviceman’s training regime. The 2.4km run, for example, tests one's cardiovascular fitness, said Mr Ong. “It tests how fit you are in terms of stamina, because your heart really needs to cope with the stress - and so it is a very good gauge of your overall fitness level.” This station is reportedly a problem for some seven in 10 servicemen.

The shuttle run is a station where the aim is to sprint a total of 40m in two loops, bending and touching the ground (or picking up a block) at each turning point. "The reason is we're simulating a fire movement,” said Mr Ong, ex-Head of Physical Training, School of Physical Training. “So when you get into a position of cover, you need to really place one hand in front and get yourself down, and prone yourself down to get yourself in a firing position."

Sit-ups, meanwhile, focus on another aspect. "It is important for NSmen because when we put on our uniform and our SBO (Skeletal Battle Order) or now the load-bearing vest, this will help us keep everything in hold,” said Mr Ong.

As for chin-ups, National Serviceman Mohd Azfar feels they are still relevant because "when you have to do FIBUA (fighting in built-up areas) exercises, you will have to scale walls, which requires upper body strength. So I feel there's no need to tweak this station, as it is very relevant".

One of the toughest stations is the standing broad jump station - fitness experts say about six in 10 NSmen have problems passing this station. "There are a lot of people who can't really jump,” said Mr Ong. “One is that they do not have the strength and the power, and the second issue is their jumping technique.”

Indeed, while it takes only about an hour to go through all the current stations, it takes about six weeks to get ready for the IPPT as it stands now.

* Tougher penalties for NSmen who skip IPPT
Those who miss fitness test 3 times in a row will be confined to camp
By Jermyn Chow Defence Correspondent, The Straits Times, 31 Oct 2014

CONFINEMENT, the bane of conscripted soldiers here, will continue to haunt reservists who skip the mandatory military fitness test three times in a row.

Instead of a $100 fine - the usual penalty currently - citizen soldiers will soon be locked up in camp, "forced" to exercise and still pay a monetary penalty.

The new regime starts in January, with a five-day boot camp aimed at getting operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) fit, said the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

It comes amid recent efforts to toughen up citizen soldiers here and get them in shape.

Measures have also been taken to make the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) less of a chore for NSmen who have to juggle family and work commitments. These include a stripped-down fitness test starting in April and more convenient venues to train for the test.

But despite giving them more leeway to keep fit, the military said it is inevitable that there will be persistent offenders.

"There will be a small number of NSmen who may not have a valid reason for not attempting their IPPT," the army's assistant chief of general staff (training), Colonel Ng Ying Thong, told The Straits Times.

Now, those who skip the IPPT three or more times are fined or risk being thrown into detention barracks - the army equivalent of prison - for up to a week. It is understood that recalcitrant defaulters have been spared the jail term and usually get away with a fine of $100.

The new confinement will "focus on teaching NSmen the different types of fitness modalities and fitness habits", said Col Ng.

He said the SAF aims to partner NSmen to leadhealthy lifestyles and the fitness camp is a "constructive programme aimed at helping NSmen train for and do well in their IPPT". Barred from leaving camp premises, offenders will get fitness training and attempt the IPPT.

Col Ng declined to reveal the number of repeat offenders. It is unclear whether they will get their salaries from the Government when sent to boot camp.

The 2010 figures from the Ministry of Defence - the most recent available - showed that half of the 116,000 NSmen who take the test annually fail it.

The Straits Times understands that the idea of confining and forcing IPPT defaulters to exercise in camps has been on the cards since last year.

Several NSmen told The Straits Times they were briefed on details of the new penalties earlier this year. One of them, a 34-year-old insurance agent who declined to be named, said: "With all the measures to make it easier for us to train and keep fit, it will be foolish of anyone not to be bothered to do something and risk being confined."

* What it should have been
The Straits Times, 4 Nov 2014

LAST Friday's article, "Tougher penalties for NSmen who skip IPPT", stated that operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) who skip the mandatory military fitness test three times in a row will be confined in a camp for five days, must undergo physical fitness training and pay a fine. The Defence Ministry has clarified that the three offences need not be sequential. NSmen will be penalised as long as they skip the IPPT a total of three times.

SAF's carrot and stick approach to IPPT
Penalties for skipping test are meant to help NSmen
By Jermyn Chow Defence Correspondent, The Straits Times, 7 Nov 2014

CONFINEMENT has become the dreaded C-word among some citizen soldiers these days, as they grumble about how the Singapore Armed Forces is cracking the whip on those who repeatedly skip the mandatory military fitness test.

Under the revised three-strikes rule that kicks in from January, those who skip the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) three times will have to pay a $100 fine and go through a five-day fitness boot camp.

Now, the SAF fines recalcitrant offenders $100 or throws them - albeit rarely - into detention barracks, the army's equivalent of prison.

So instead of putting those who have gone absent without leave (AWOL) for the IPPT behind bars, military commanders would rather confine them in camps.

They can then teach them how to run faster, jump higher and do more push-ups, before making them undergo the fitness test.

Those who oppose the stay-in rule say it is "too draconian" and harsh on operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen), who may have given the IPPT a miss for justifiable reasons such as work commitments or an injury.

But they might be missing the point.

Instead of being overly harsh, the SAF has made bold moves over the past five months to get rid of pain points in its physical fitness programme to make it easier for NSmen to keep fit as they juggle their jobs, family and NS commitments.

First, they are given up to twice as much time to pass their IPPT or clear remedial training.

Second, the NSmen will, from April, take a simpler IPPT with just three stations, instead of the current five-component test.

Third, they are given more say in where to train for the fitness test, with the IPPT Preparatory Training programme offered at more venues that are closer to where they work and live.

Lastly, those who attempt and do well in their IPPT will get an extra $100 incentive.

Given the increased flexibility and cash incentives, what can these NSmen grumble about?

If such niceties still do not work, it makes good sense for the SAF to get tougher with those who think they can skip the IPPT not once or twice, but three times.

Offenders can benefit from staying in camp and undergoing a structured fitness programme.

While a five-day crash course will not make someone fitter immediately, it can be a chance to cultivate good habits such as keeping fit.

Besides putting them through rigorous workouts, commanders will also teach them how to eat right and healthily.

As the army's assistant chief of staff (training), Colonel Ng Ying Thong, said, the SAF aims to partner NSmen to lead healthy lifestyles and the fitness boot camp is a "constructive programme aimed at helping NSmen train for and do well in their IPPT".

Ultimately, how well one does in the IPPT is no small matter.

After all, the IPPT is the baseline measure of a serviceman's fitness and he must be fit enough to perform his operational role.

It will be the soldier who can take one more step, fire one more shot and run faster than the enemy, who will survive the heat of the battle.

And it is all the more crucial for a conscript military such as the SAF to stay fighting fit, especially given that citizen soldiers form four-fifths of its total fighting strength.

This group, incidentally, also makes up the bulk of IPPT failures, though exact figures are not available.

The most recent figures given in 2010 by the Ministry of Defence showed that the test is failed by half of the 116,000 NSmen who take it every year.

To be sure, only a small number of NSmen repeatedly skip their IPPT, Colonel Ng told The Straits Times.

But this is not good enough for Singaporeans, who expect nothing less than a fighting fit and motivated military to defend them and the country.

As Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said during his SAF Day interview in July: "We want a fit SAF, and a fit SAF is a desired goal and a good goal for all Singaporeans."

Taking to task those who do not want to play by the rules and who think they can get off the hook is doing right by these Singaporeans.

And if confinement helps less disciplined NSmen become fitter and healthier in the long run, it is doing right by these NSmen too.

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