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Thursday, July 24, 2014


I find it weird that Mindef has seemed it fit to respond to all the cry father cry mother about the IPPT and after a review, took such a drastic step of dropping the standing board jump, shuttle run, pull up and replacing it with a push up. Only the sit up and 2.4km remain untouched.

I know many people cannot do the standing board jump (SBJ) and the pull up and that is the single biggest cause of the high rate of failure.  When I did my NS more than 30 years ago, I couldn't even do 1 single pull up. As a result, we had to do pull up before and after every meal. Over the course of the BMT, most of us eventually manage to do the minimum 6. SBJ was a different ball game altogether. It was not something that we could train for everyday. For me, I was lucky that I usually managed to scrap through. However, for many others, even though they excel in all the other stations, a failure at the SBJ means they failed the entire IPPT.

So after so many years, I guess Mindef has finally decided to listen to the complaints and did a review and removed the 2 biggest bugbear of the soldiers. Or maybe the current commanders cannot stomach a high failure rate and decided to get rid of the problem the easy way.

The IPPT was modelled after the international NAPFA test. Each station was supposed to test different aspect of one fitness like pull up for upper body strength, sit up for core muscle, SBJ for agility and so on. Personally I don't see the relevance of the SBJ for a soldier's fitness. Likewise, the shuttle run, the sit up and the 2.4km run. These are measures of a person fitness in a mainly sports environment. Not for a soldier and definitely not for a soldier engaged in a war. As it is, our soldiers are already quite a big softie with so much pampering compared to the bad old days. Probably the toughest test for the soldier right now is the route march but even then, the distance has been shorten considerably.

If Mindef is really serious about ensuring that its soldiers are combat fit, I would suggest that they seriously reconsider the whole idea of the IPPT. Why have a half pass 6 type of standards? Soldier don't just run 2.4 km in a war. Being able to run 2.4 km under 10 minutes is not going to make anybody a great soldier. Likewise being able to do 20 pull up or push up or 40 sit up. What has that got to do with one fitness?

To measure a soldier's true fitness, I will suggest that Mindef bring back the full battle order obstacle course test. That is definitely a more intense measure of a soldier's fitness and strength cum ability to manoeuvre, dodge and climb obstacles. But that is only for a short assault. To test a soldier's endurance during war, make every runner runs a half marathon in Standard Battle Order not PT kit. After all, when a soldier goes to war, he is not going to wear running attire and sport shoes. If a soldier can pass the obstacle course test and the SBO half marathon test, I believe he should be fit enough to fight a war even if he can't run 2.4 km in the required time or jump 251cm.

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