Was supposed to be part of the SAFVC 02/16 batch but an untimely fever came 2 days before enlistment so I had no choice but to defer to the 03/16 batch.
That aside, I can now finally declare that I have graduated from basic training!
On Mondays to Fridays and Sundays, I am a civilian living the 3-11pm work hours (some days 9-6), but on Saturdays, I am a volunteer soldier. Talk about a double identity. Some weeks I look forward to Saturdays, some weeks I have the pre-book in blues. But I had to remind myself Why are you feeling the dread? Why did you sign up in the first place?
And the answer is because… I hope to pay it forward by being part of the group that protects the country.
Anyway, here is part 1 of our 9 weeks of modular training in a nutshell.
Week 1: enlistment
Mostly administrative stuff and getting used to SAF lingo. But before settling down, we had to go through the rite of passage of taking the SAF pledge in front of our loved ones which sealed our fate as part of the volunteer corps. Instead of “see you in 2 weeks”, we said “see you tonight” to our families.
Going through every single SAF issued item in our duffel bag, field pack and getting to know our uniform was overwhelming because there are so many foreign looking objects I have never seen before. Highlight of the day was lugging our heavy barang onto our bunks at the 4th floor, whereas the males occupied the 2nd and 3rd floors. Nabeh.
Another thing was to familiarise ourselves with the drill commands, standing in a squad and learning how to march in step in preparation for our graduation parade. As compared to the drills I did in military band during secondary school, it was much simpler due to time constraints.
Also arranged our bunks according to the standard manner. Our section commander (1WO) is really approachable and everyone started talking to her in a very chummy civilian way.
Started the day at 9.30am, ended at 11.30pm. It felt like a really long day, but it’s only the beginning.
First activity in the morning was IPPT. We aren’t tested for good nor is there any incentive if you got gold, but it was included in the training for us to gauge our fitness level. Also got introduced to the legendary 5BX.
Next was team building, which is in reality more of expectations setting and what you hope to achieve yadda yadda.
Then we headed off for some national education. First up was visiting Battlebox and then the to Kranji War Memorial (history again wtf).
And the main event of the day was receiving our husbands – The SAR21. We held ours at Kranji War Memorial with all the dead soldier souls as our witnesses. And I also learnt that the ceremony is usually held at night to prevent the enemy from knowing that the soldiers receiving the weapons are a bunch of newbies.
Anyway we were presented with our rank and had to snatch the rifle from the commander to show that we have to earn it with our efforts. Also we had to shout “with this rifle I will defend my country ma’am” and recite another pledge. I finally felt how 3.5kg felt like, but 3.5kg was only a number. Our husbands weigh of responsibility….and sometimes a burden.
Started off the day with aerobic and strength training at the parade square, which meant rough floors. Doing push-up was the most jialat for us females because we had to put our knees on the floor. Some of us tried to do the guys style but got told to put our knees down. Sweated buckets but it felt good.
The rest of the day was spent with our husband, learning how to strip (no this is not a sex scene) and assemble so that we will be proficient in handling the rifle and subsequently progress on. Initially I caught no ball during the theory part. The weather was so humid that i wanted to sleep and we were all tired out by the morning PT. In the end I kalang kabok during the hands on session and the instructor singled 3 of us out for remedial.
Long story short, we were all able to handle the rifle at the end of the day. Moral of the story: The SAR21 is actually quite idiot proof.
Did I also mention that we had to do the technical handling drills in our ILBV and helmet? For a first time wearer, it was really suffocating and the helmet made me 50% stupid…when I am already stupid enough.
Basically to pass your technical handling test, you just have to keep doing and doing and doing until it becomes muscle memory. Yeah true that you need to know a bit of theory… but not too much actually. Just go with the age-old adage called “Don’t think just do!”
My wrist ached like crazy the next day due to overexertion while cocking the rifle, and suffered a few bruises. But from zero to being able to handle a weapon, it was a productive day.
Stay tuned for part 2 and 3. Sorry this has to be all text because we weren’t allowed to share our training photos elsewhere.