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SAF soldiers take care not to ‘thrash’ Brunei jungle while training: PM Lee

SINGAPORE — Even as Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) soldiers undertake realistic training in the jungles of Brunei, they take care to keep the area in good condition for future trainees, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday (Oct 6) following a visit to observe jungle and survival training in Temburong.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong interacts with soldiers during a visit to observe jungle and survival training in Temburong. Brunei, on Oct 6, 2017. Photo: Mindef

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong interacts with soldiers during a visit to observe jungle and survival training in Temburong. Brunei, on Oct 6, 2017. Photo: Mindef

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SINGAPORE — Even as Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) soldiers undertake realistic training in the jungles of Brunei, they take care to keep the area in good condition for future trainees, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday (Oct 6) following a visit to observe jungle and survival training in Temburong.

Mr Lee noted, for instance, that the soldiers used pouches to hold the cartridges of blank rounds fired from their rifles and machine guns.

This was done so that they would not litter the jungle, an important training ground for the SAF for over 40 years, with empty casings.

“I was asking the soldiers, the trainers, about the sustainability because they have been training here for so many years. You want to make sure you do not thrash the jungle,” Mr Lee said after observing and interacting with soldiers from the 6th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment.

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“So I think we do what we can to make sure that it is kept in good condition, and not just for future trainees, but to keep the jungle a natural environment as it is.”

Mr Lee, who is on a three-day trip to attend the golden jubilee celebration of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah’s accession to the throne, was accompanied by the Chief of Army Major-General Melvyn Ong and other senior SAF officers during Friday’s training visit.

Temburong is a “unique environment which we cannot duplicate in Singapore”, noted Mr Lee who last observed the SAF training there four years ago in 2013.

“(Soldiers) come here, they learn about the jungle, they also toughen themselves up, they learn about themselves, so that is something very valuable,” he said, adding that a lot of attention has been placed on safety and physical preparations for the tough training involved.

“If anything happens, we will make sure that the doctors are there, all the rescue is in place. I think that the system is working well,” he added.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong cheering with the soldiers from 6th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment, at the end of their training today. Photo: Mindef

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said that Mr Lee “emphasised the importance of training in a realistic and safe environment, and commended the soldiers for their professionalism and commitment”.

He also told the soldiers about the importance of National Service in ensuring the security of Singapore.

Singapore and Brunei share a close and long-standing defence relationship. Along with the regular training exercises that the SAF conducts in Brunei, which began more than four decades ago, both militaries interact through frequent bilateral exercises, professional exchanges, visits and cross attendance of courses.

“These exchanges have enhanced the professionalism and strengthened the ties between the two armed forces,” Mindef added.

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