I’ve completed my national service!
In case you do not have National Service in the not-so-distant future, it is basically a mandatory service all young men have to perform, in one of the few uniformed service, such as the Police Force, Civil Defence, or the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) branch like, Navy, Air Force or the Army.
I was in the Army, and since I was enlisted at the age of 18, more than 21 years ago, my vocation has always been a Regimental Policeman (RP), and right now, the SAF called it ‘Security Trooper’ just another name for military security guard.
In total, looking back, I spent more than 2 decades on this, 2 years as a full time NSF, and 7 years in hiatus, before being called up at the age of 27 to serve in this battalion for the next 12 years.
Since then a couple of things has changed.
The camouflaged uniform as went from ‘patches’ to ‘pixels
The weapons went from M-16 to SAR-21
The Trucks went from a 3 tonner to a 5 tonner
My Camp went from Portsdown Camp to the modern Kranji Camp 3.
There is a lot more military ranks other than the usual Officers, specialists, and Warrant Officers. The SAF introduced something call ‘ME’- better known as ‘Military Experts’ rank.
The food at the cookhouse was also different. In my NSF time, there were actually cooks as a military vocations, now, the eating part of it has been totally outsourced, first to Singapore Food Industries (SFI) and now the later part SATS Food, the food used to be nutritionally bland, now at least there are occasional Ice-Creams and other yummy desserts.
But one thing didn’t change.
The attitude towards National Service, since it is a kind of mandatory duty, many people, including myself, sees it as a waste of time. It does not really add value to our civilian life, and more often than not, it is more of an inconvenience. Well to me, being some kind of a military bluff, I don’t mind it, but more importantly, I went with the flow and was discharging my duties in the least best way. well, I did the minimum, there are others, who did less than the minimum, bordering malingering.
After 21 years dabbling in civilian soldiering, one thing finally changed in me.
I begin to realise that you can still do good in a very bad situation. I can either choose to see it as a waste of time, and waste time, hence fulfilling a prophecy, or begin to do something good. Since this was my last ICT, I decide to do something different.
I’ve been in the battalion for the past 12 years, I literally grew up with it. There are people I know that the newer NSmen wouldn’t know, processes and screw ups I’ve seen that gives me the confidence and maturity to handle a complicated situation. I also have a well established network of strangers turned friends. I know storemen, officers, Regimental Sergeant Majors (RSM), trainers, specialists and other new players to make my ICT experience better than those who just joined the battalion. Since I am leaving, I told my chums to take care of the new batches of RPs.
Nobody, I mean absolutely nobody would want to ‘volunteer’ in the military, more often than not you get ‘volunteered’ to do something. This time, when my RSM tasked me to delegate a duty to one of my fellow RPs, I took on the task myself, and called upon a few other friends. I didn’t have a habit of volunteering people, so I volunteered myself, and it was a good experience, I learned a couple of more things through my willingness to take on a little more duties.
Can do attitude in a can’t do place
Admittedly, I do not have that. I wasn’t can do, but I just want things to be done, and been in there for so long, I know how things should be done, and I did it, my way, how it should be done. I realised that given all the rigidity in the military, as long as you prove that you can do it, you’d be left to do it on your own, with resources at your disposal. Of course, if you choose to cannot do it, then it cannot be done, with certainty!
On a high note
I’m quite thankful that I ended my last ICT on a high note, There was a Change of Command (CoC) for my battalion RSM, and the good got better, the outgoing Master Warrant Officer Chia was replaced by an Afghan-deployed 1st Warrant Officer Ang, he is a solid, albeit funny professional soldier, very approachable, very people-soldier. I left the unit with Major Sim at the helm, a fantastic Commanding Officer, the best out of the three that commanded the unit. I got a best soldier award on my last in camp, what else can I ask for?
(Pictures are sourced from Google. Picture of pixelised uniform belongs to me)
First posted March 16, 2015