Basic Military Training (BMT) – My NS Journey
I remembered before my National Service (NS), I don’t know anything about army or bothered to find out. I was the last person in my clique to serve my NS as they have either ORD-ed or left a few months more to ORD.
Few months before my enlistment, I couldn’t achieve a silver for the old NAPFA test (5 Stations) in the last year of my polytechnic. For that I’ve received the enlistment letter telling me that I have to undergo an additional 6-weeks Physical Training Phase (PTP) due to poor NAPFA result and I have to report to Tekong Camp at 1030 hrs on 26 May 2015.
I was so demoralised that I have to serve that extra 2 months so that moment I told myself that I should start training and get a 61 points/silver so I can defer and ‘siam’ that PTP.
I even went to the extend of bringing my running shoes to my Japan trip with the thought of “maybe I should jog every morning”. But guess what, throughout the 10 days, not even once… Haha!
Pushing my luck, I went to retake NAPFA at Toa Payoh Stadium. This time following the new IPPT criteria (3 Stations: Push up, Sit up and 2.4km). Oh my… and yes, those were the words I said when I received my result slip and looked at it.
If I remembered correctly, my score were as follows:
- Sit Up : 34
- Push Up : 15
- 2.4Km : 14+ mins
Oh my… Now thinking back, I should be so ashamed of myself. Hahahahahah! I have then accepted my fate to PTP.
Couple of days before my enlistment, I got my clique to shave off my hair as it was our tradition.
“One’s hair should be shaved by his close friends for he soon to become a man.”
Finally, the start of BMT, 26 May 2015. My mum and girlfriend were there to send me off to Tekong Resort. I was posted to School 2, Jaguar Company, Platoon 4. As for the last meal I had before I was sent off; it was good, western meal: fried chicken drumstick, fries, mashed potatoes and fried rice.
After the meal, I bid goodbye to my love ones as it was time for me to take on the role of a recruit of BMTC and start marching to my Company Line to collect our duffle bags and uniforms. My uniforms were oversized, M-L for top and 34 for bottom… I guess I was feeling fat when I was filling up my particulars in the portal.
Oh I forgot to mention earlier, as this is our first book in, there will be a 2 weeks confinement for new enlistees. No wall plugs were allowed to charge our phones but I came prepared, 3 x Mi Power Banks 😀
Days in BMT
A typical day usually starts at 0530 hrs and end at 2230 hrs. During the PTP, most of days were scheduled with 2 physical trainings each day, one will be in the morning and the other in the afternoon. In-between were lectures and lectures, on regimental and discipline, soldier fundamentals, weapon handling, etc. The difficult part would be the adjusting to fatigue and regimentation. I slowly transformed into a soldier, there was no “I want to rest/sleep” when I am tired and I have to continue with the day’s activities until Routine Order (RO) is given.
Physical trainings were strength training, endurance jog, speed run, circuit training and more. Each has its own objective and goals to boost the various muscles in our body and making us stronger.
As I said earlier in the post, I don’t know anything about army. So during my first and many encounters with my Platoon Commander and Platoon Sergeants, they were fierce, started shouting at us randomly, knocking us down at every opportunity given.
In my mind, I was thinking why these bastards signed on just to tekan us everyday, don’t they have other better things to do?
In my defence, I always thought all commanders have to sign on during that time, plus they looked old 😀
If you ask me what was the one thing I hate the most in BMT, I can say the one thing I hate the most will be Force Prep. That was the period where I face the floor the longest and witnessing my poor ziplock bags (new ones) being torn apart and items being thrown around. Basically because of that, you can spot me at Chervons’ E-Mart almost every weekends buying ziplock bags 🙁
Anyway, my company had a rule that if you don’t secure at least silver for IPPT, you have to stay back during the weekends for Remedial Trainings (RT) until you get silver. I held on to the Premium Class RT Membership only until the last few weeks of BMT. Trust me, I can’t run for nuts. I will have those wheezing sound when I start running and getting Silver (75 points) for IPPT was a miracle for me.
As for field camp, trust me, I thought it was the hardest and toughest thing during that time. 6 Days 5 Nights out in the jungle, no shower, no bed, no phone. no pillow, no blanket, no shampoo, no proper foods and no proper toilets!
This field camp is all about teaching us field discipline, soldier fundamentals, fire movements, group fighting, contact drills as well as artillery drills. we were tasked to dig a shellscape that is within our height, the ideal timing was 45 minutes but for first timer, we were given around 3 hours to finish digging.
The incentive for meeting the deadline as proposed by our Company Sergeant Major (CSM) is early book out and you can see even those lazy recruits working their ass off to dig. Blisters were formed all over my palm from digging but that doesn’t stop me from working towards my early book out; with determination I wrapped my hands with my admin tee and continued. I managed to finish my shellscape few minutes before the deadline but CSM said my shellscape was too small so I am not eligible for the incentive… (I was literally stabbing him a thousand times in my mind back then)
After the shellscapes were dug, we were told to sleep inside it during the night. But it started to rain, heavy downpour, cats and dogs, tom and jerry, causing our shellscapes to be flooded like mini jacuzzi. That moment was chaotic and it was during the night. Many were shouting and cheering while I was sitting on my field pack beside my shellscape in a shell shock & denial mode, chanting:
“Why is this happening”, “Why so unlucky”.
Once the rain has stopped, one of my section mate with a good intention came over to invite us to sleep and cuddle on his groundsheet. 10 minutes later, we were reprimanded big time by our sergeants for sleeping on groundsheets and not sleeping in our individual shellscape. So we told him that our shellscape were like jacuzzi but his replies were
“You think this is a chalet?, go back now! I also don’t want to see anyone of you laying any groundsheet in your shellscape!”.
So I just change into a dry set of uniform, wore my Gortex jacket (raincoat) and slept in my hole. It was not too bad, soil were soft due to the rain but tom dick harry mosquitoes were buzzing in my ears every few minutes.
The “Mail Run”
If I remembered correctly, the 3rd day was the day for tekan session. They call it the “mail” run.
If you’ve heard about this, parents were told to write us a letter when they sent us off during our enlistment day and this letter will be given to us at the end of “mail” run.
So basically we were given an assault bag and was tasked to protect it and they will find 101 reasons to find fault and steal it from us while punishing us.
Punishments varies from leopard crawling on the wet mud from our location to our sergeants location, in push up positions while they reprimand us for not taking care of that bag, run from point A to B.
At the end, its time for our letters and my PC was so dramatic. He opened the bag that we suppose to protect and pour all the “fake” letters onto the ground, took one and began to read
“Dear son, mummy is so proud of you… Sign off, Mum”
then he proceed to tear it and start destroying the rest. However, while he was destroying the “fake” letters, a sergeant who was standing behind us, accidentally dropped a bag which eventually exposed my PC.
When I received my letter, I was so excited and was looking forward to read what my mum and girlfriend have wrote. I thought it could be a moral booster for the remaining days left. To my horror, the letter was written by my sergeant, he said they did not receive any letter so he wrote one for me. That moment, I cried like a little bitch for not having my letters 🙁 Turns out, there was a delay in the mail processing, I later received it few days after we are back to camp and I teared again when I read it.
I have made some good friends during my BMT.
“With my rilfe and my buddy and me. “
I’m not too sure why we kept point middle fingers…
Read my next post on My NS Journey: 24km March to POP