Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A 2nd hand account of the Taiwan training tragedy

Mi brother was cleaning his riffle when he n his platoon (around 20ppl) looked up into e sky n saw tis plane in e sky flying towards them. Their whole company were in the shed and just rite mi bro's platoon was seated at e corner of e shed so only they saw the plane coming. They were amazed at how grand e plane was when they suddenly realised e plane flippin over (its pilots are flyin inverted now) n flying closer n closer towards them. In fact, it was coming at them!! Sensing something really wrong, tis group of platoon mate ran screaming into the middle of e shed to take cover. Before they knew it, e plane crashed into e small stockroom behind e shed. There was a massive explosion with e stockroom bursting into a wild big inferno.


Link



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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The unwilling draftee 5

"Bottles up!", "Caps off!", "Drink!" The 200 robots regimentally followed the order given by the seargent who was already in his 'smart 4' (green fatigues with sleeves neatly folded up to bicep level). I couldn't believe what I was made to go through. Replenishing the body with water has got to be the most natural action any dehydrated animal does. Here, it was choreographed to the last detail. Nobody was allowed to drink before the final command was given. Everyone had to hold up the bottle at chest level. The bottle had to be filled to the brim. Dripping--even the tiniest drop was punishable.


Read more here.



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Friday, March 02, 2007

Pick it up lah!

Reservists don't look like that
What reservists don't look like

It rained all of yesterday, pissing down on all of us while we were at the combat shoot range near Pasir Laba Camp (or Pasir Labia Camp, as we called it, which is built around Bukit Vagina, as we giggled some more like secondary school boys, but you know, it's a bit tiring to talk about how vulgar our conversations are when we're in reservist.)

Strangely, we weren't as miserable as we ought to have been - being in wet clothes for what, twenty hours or so and being stung by mosquitoes hardy enough to withstand our saturation spraying of much Off as well as our liberal application of many citronella patches all over ourselves.

As a platoon mate, who shall not be named because these days, if you get named on this blog, everyone in your office gets to know about your exploits in camp, and I really don't want that to happen to you. Unless you want it to. If so, leave a comment and I'll insert your names...

As I was saying, this platoon mate says to a bunch of grumbling fellow troopers who've started a conversation with, "Wah lao, this kind of rain won't stop one leh!", that we should "think about it. How often do you get to walk in the rain?"

I think he meant for us to try to enjoy our day out, and the conversation veered to how some people pay good money to enjoy getting stung by mosquitoes and other sundry insects while getting drenched on eco-tours.

You'd understand by now that despite being in uniform and bearing the latest in automatic rifles and Army gear, we weren't thinking about how proficient we were going to be as soldiers - something which, in this 9th year of reservist (I have to keep calling it that though I know the official name is National Service) training, is getting increasingly laughable given our creeping ages.

The upshot is that for most of us, safety was always going to be the foremost consideration, as an exchange at the combat range between the control point officer and a safety specialist, over loundhailers, in the dark, would testify:

SS: "Hold it! Wait! Wait! Wait!"

CP: "Yes, what?"

SS: "Live round (bullet)! Live round!"

CP: "Where is it? Is it stuck in the chamber (of the rifle)? Is it double chambering?"

SS: "No!"

CP: "Then where?"

SS: "On the ground!"

CP: "Wah lau! Then pick it up lah! Idiot!"


Much laughter ensued. And so, yes, W, you missed out on a good one.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

A charmed (NSF) Life: After BMT

Many of my platoon mates suspected I am a white horse because of how well my superiors treated me, but they don’t really understand I don’t get punished because I simply fall in on time and follow instructions. Soon even my specs were spooked and believed the rumors that I am a white horse.

This persisted even after BMT was over and postings came. Ok, I admit, due to a relative, I had a choice of vocation after BMT:

  1. Vehicle mechanic
  2. Medical orderly
  3. Driver
  4. Signaler
  5. Rifleman (which I was supposed to be…)

I chose driver. I wasn’t very surprised when postings came and I was to be a driver. Ok, please don’t be pissed with me!

My charmed life continued in STC (Supply Transport Centre, formerly known as STTS or Supply Transport Training School), when on the first day, we were given survey forms asking questions about computer skills. This was my field man! Little did I know, out of about 400 or 500 privates in that hall, me and another guy was short listed to help out in the CO’s office!

We were attached to the CO’s office, under the label ‘CO Project Team’. STTS just had a new CO at that time, and he was implementing sweeping changes to the loggies, like making drivers stay in even when on course, etc. He was a nice guy. The SSM (School Sergeant Major) was another story. He was an imposing person, but after several weeks of making his morning coffee (2 bags of coffee beans, no sugar!), he mellowed.

Being in the CO’s office had its perks. Sure, we had to stay in compared to some trainees who were attached to external units and stayed out, but some of my benefits were:

  1. No morning parade. Immediately after reveille we disappeared into the CO’s office and CSMs couldn’t pick on us
  2. We could have EVERY MEAL at the canteen! Meals were not indented for us and Sembawang’s canteen food was HEAVEN! PRATAA!!
  3. Internet. The little room in the CO’s office had true, fast internet access, and the PCs were modern machines for us to design video presentations and programs.
  4. Lots of offs. Whenever we completed a milestone in a project, or helped out at a function, we would usually be awarded off days. I once spent a week at a chalet, courtesy of the CO (due to a senior officer/WO retreat) and had 4 days off after that. Cannot beat that!
  5. The COPA was virtually boss when CO and SSM wasn’t around. My off passes were sometimes signed by him :P
  6. On the other hand, the SSM was nice enough to give me lots of off passes for doing stuff like photoshopping him into places he did not go but still wanting to wayang to others that he was there. Cool
  7. Being authorized to bring in video cameras, digital cameras and other stuff into camp, since I had a LOA (Letter of Authorisation). Freedom!
  8. The company of lots of friendly people. I made friends with lots of NSF officers, and since I am a computer technician, I often fixed their computers for free meals…
  9. My ‘white horse background’ rumour persisted here. Even the CO thought I was a spy from Mindef sent to check up on him. Soon, NSF officers were jokingly saluting me and addressing me as ‘Sir’.
  10. Tying up the COPA to a rolling chair and rolling him around the HQ block on his birthday, while videoing every moment.

After nearly 3 or 4 months of attachment at STTS, I finally went on my basic vehicle maintenance and driver’s courses.





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Friday, November 10, 2006

Talc the map now!

In a thread about slavery spelling/pronunciation, someone wondered what "telt" / "talc" (the clear plastic sheeting you cover maps and other things with) really was.

I pondered over this for a while, and then suddenly remembered that I'd hit upon the right answer years before in a brainwave - it's actually "tarp", short for "tarpaulin". Many are resistant to this idea, since they think tarpaulin must be opaque and thick, but I've dug up many graphic illustrations of clear plastic tarp:

DEKE - Cornell

Thoughts on Restoring a Morgan
Introduction to Media Blasting


Healthy Lawns—Site preparation: Soil solarization

57 Ways - 15. Solarize Soil

WAN in Lab: Facilities: Pictures and Schematics - gallery: \WIL\2004-12-09 Adjustable Shelves + Corning Fiber Spools + Plastic Tarp




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A charmed (NSF) Life: A new beginning

I enlisted on Boxing Day, 26th December, 2003. Was quite a crushing Christmas the day before, knowing full well I’ll be leaving a barely month-old relationship into the army camps of Singapore, armed with the scary ghost stories and torture tales from my uncles.

Since I screwed up my secondary 4 education because I was emotionally unstable, I only have O levels, thus I was drafted in 4SIR’s mono intake. Man, Lim Chu Kang Camp 2 (or was it 1? Sheesh... I can’t remember) was to be my second home for the next 3 months.Most of the first day was a blur, a whirlwind of allegiance ceremonies, surrendering of our freedom (Pink ICs), and waving sad goodbyes to our families. My goodbye wasn’t too sad, thankfully, since I was abused in the family. Good riddance. I resolved to make it good in NS (though, thinking back, that’s impossible).

4SIR had a pretty traditional building layout, 4 L-shaped company buildings of coy A, B, C and SP, surrounding a rectangular parade square, with a road leading down to a long HQ block and curiously, an abandoned block called 622 SIR. That block was a nightmare to virgin patrol personnel.

Though the coy building looked pretty dilapidated on the outside, the inside was pretty new, relatively new windows, new bed frames, springy mattresses, and incredibly clean bed sheets. I later learnt that our specs had spent the last week ‘dolling up’ the camp for recruits. Ha!

I entered the army in PTP, serving an extra, what, 6 weeks? I can’t remember exactly, time passed fast. I collapsed after a run on the 3rd day, scaring the shit out of my PC and Specs. I wasn’t trying to chao geng, but I guess trying to be gung ho when my body isn’t up to snuff was bad.

That started the long string of bloody stupid cock-ups that were to pepper my entire NS life.

You see, what happens after a recruit faints? Well, the spec shouts for the medic, who had been blissfully sitting on his stretcher 5 metres away enjoying the breeze, who had to huff and puff to my (now incoherent) body, pulling up my eyelids and shaking me repeatedly, mouthing ‘Recruit X!! Hey!! Hey!! Can you hear me?!’ heck, if I could I would have replied, just save me, damn it!

Next was the flurry of the 3 other medics who were activated from the nearby (barely 20 metres) medical centre, and they were panicking (as they told me later) on what happened to me.

“I think he had heat stroke”
“Maybe just dehydration”
“Fainted only la!”
“What the fuck! Just carry him to the MO!!” (My spec)

I was whisked away by 4 pairs of hands, while the stretcher lay untouched at the company line.

So, I was at the medical centre, lying mostly unconscious. What happened next?

“Where’s the MO?”
“He’s taking his morning run…”
“WHAT?? Then bring him here for fark?”
“Maybe smelling the medicine will help…”

Soon enough, the MO appeared in PT attire, and proceeded to prod me for signs of life. He then mouthed the life-changing words:

“Evac him to IMH”

The medics recoiled in horror. “Sir, sure or not? I think he only exhaustion, go NUH la sir” “Sure, no, send him to IMH, quickly”

Great, I was whisked to Woodbridge Hospital the 3rd day after I was enlisted, man, my NS life is just going great.

I woke up at the mental institution to a curious looking doctor who told the medics “I think he’s suffering from physical exhaustion…why the hell did you guys send him here?”

Bad news was, since it was a Saturday, there was no resident specialist around, (whose signature is needed to send me back to camp), and thus the decision was to put me with the mental patients till Monday.

Alright, I don’t have to detail the life of a mental patient, basically, the nurses wouldn’t talk to me, there is barely anything to read, and me, an 18 year old was surrounded by doddering senior citizens, my only solace was another NSF from the navy, who was sent here because he tried to shoot his sergeant with his rifle while live firing. He insisted he was only acting and wanted to escape his Navy BMT on purpose, how could I distrust him?

I spent the weekend eating with baby food with plastic spoons and forks, and watching old folk shout, scream and bang their heads against the walls. I nearly joined them, but thankfully, the magazine rack helped. My dad visited me on Sunday too.

Finally, Monday came, and I was to see the head psychologist, which coincidently, was the head of the Army Psychiatry dept, a retired COL. He was pretty candid in his interview, asking where my unit was, what weapon was I trained in, stuff like that. Good thing he decided there’s nothing wrong with my and called for my unit to pick me up that afternoon.

I must say, I have NEVER been happier to see my PC and spec. I vowed that I would love the army from then on. It took nearly an hour to out-process me, and my 2 superiors spent the time sitting inside the ward, talking to me and observing the surroundings. Barely 15 minutes later, my PC whispered: “I think I’m going crazy if I stay here any longer…”

Soon, I was driven back to camp, to curious bunkmates who were told that I went crazy and am going to be interned at Woodbridge for the next 2 years. I guess they were disappointed. After came an interview with the OO (Orientation Officer), who pinpointed the source of my exhaustion: after a 3 km run, without doing cooling down, my CSM ordered everyone to change from PT to smart 4 and fall back in within 30 seconds. I promptly raised my hand then and collapsed.

It would be untrue to say I became a ‘marked man’ after that incident, but I felt really bad later when my CSM gave a company wide talk, saying “I was only trying to build you guys up to be men, but some of you went to stab me in the back.” How I wished I had the chance to tell him that I had no malicious intent, and was merely answering the truth to questions asked.

I was on Att B for a week after my return from the hospital, though I continued with my silly exploits like always falling in first (I was only trying to be on time), always gung-ho when sergeants asked for volunteers, and always seem to get injured during physical exercise. At first, even I was horrified that my body was trying to chao geng, but after the MO took a close examination of my feet, he proclaimed:

“You shouldn’t even be here. Your flat feet are the worst I have seen… and that’s what causing your injuries now. I’m taking you out. Don’t worry, you are a good soldier…but I am recommending downgrade for you, for your own good.”

I was pretty shocked, and so was the medic when he saw ‘6 weeks Att B, excuse all lower limb activities, pending downgrade’ on the prescription.

Thus I stopped being a combat soldier, and became the saigang warrior king in Alpha coy in 4SIR. My Att B status was renewed automatically by the MO when it ran out, ensuring that I was a permanent ‘bai ka peng’ throughout my BMT.

Why am I charmed? Probably because I feel that I got landed in probably the friendliest and fairest coy, no, camp in the entire SAF. My PC, a newly commissioned regular 2LT, was barely 3 years my senior and a very understanding person. He gave me personal pep talks when he knew I were to be downgraded, not that I love chiong sua, but I didn’t want to sweep leaves for the next 2 years (Leaf sweeping was my primary ‘bai ka’ activity). He even allowed me to walk with him, on occasion, to the cookhouse, when I was a chao recruit! I will forever be grateful to him.

My specs were a great lot too. Most of them were NSF roving specs, due to ORD in the next 3-5 months or so, with some being regulars. I found out most of them are the reasonable, friendly type. They had made known that their job was not to tekan us, but to train us and they will pat their butts and ORD. No bad karma.

Thus, the rest of my BMT went by with me being excused for most of the physical training. I loved gym sessions of course, and lectures were ok. I was the fastest at stripping and assembling my SAR21, along with loading rounds into magazines and scoring well for the electronic shooting, but alas, the decision was made not to let me do live firing. And oh, even though I had an accurate throw, I wasn’t allowed to go for grenade throwing either. I was even glossed over for field camp. I stayed in a near-empty camp for a week with 2 specs and several other Att B dudes. Life was good when the rest was in field camp, since after cleaning duties are done, time was basically free and we were allowed board games. We were told not to breathe a word to anyone else though :P

I never lost my reputation for being SBO (Si Bei On) though. My field pack was always neatly packed, webbing always primed, rifle always clean (since it has never been fired…), boots always polished, stuff like that. News spread. Soon everyone began borrowing my stuff. My PC, then my PS would borrow my field pack on route marches (which I was exempted), unless my OC snatched it first. They would borrow my rifle which was the cleanest, and my spec even ‘borrowed’ my mp3 player (I tried sneaking it to camp as a radio – was caught at the guardhouse by a sharp eyed sergeant, but thankfully my own spec was the guardcom. He said he would detain it till I booked out, but hey, he could use it). And oh, I fully prepared my outfield gear even though I was not supposed to go. My PS told me to sell my gear to a platoon mate who forgotten to prepare anything for outfield instead.

I think that’s enough ranting of my less-than-illustrious BMT life. Scenes I will not forget:

My CSM walking off in anger during rehearsal for the end of BMT drill competition, realizing that although the platoon was marching correctly and in time, my PC was not particularly strong at drill…

My regular spec sneaking into our bunks after lights out and whispering “Hey, wanna hear ghost stories or not?” then he would proceed to spook everyone who cared to listen around the table…

My CSM leaping off the low beam and landing in the barbed wire while doing his SOCMy 2 specs who failed their SOC because they had to turn around and pull out the CSM…

A smart aleck BOS (Battalion Orderly Sergeant) who decided to scare prowling recruits at the abandoned 622 Sir block by wearing his poncho over his head, and was promptly whacked by 2 spooked prowlers with their batons…



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when you are always at the other end of the island...

If anyone's camp is in the infamous West side of Singapore, you will notice there's a bunch of people who dont wear green, yet as shag as you guys do. Yes, the university people. Somehow to me, the army people and the Uni people have something in common.

1. We are all stuck in e west side. ( Go Orchard? Nah, go home n sleep liao la)

2. Enjoy a gd 1/2hr or more nap in the "cheerful" orange part of our friendly mrt train.
(well, not everyone lives in the west)

3.we need to take bus rides to the super ulu places of the west side. (e Uni people hafta pay for their own bus fare)

4. Get to enjoy the "music" produced by the live firing. (e diff is army guys r the ones firing. I got super shocked when i 1st heard live firing.. =_=" )

5. Slog n slog.......

6. Munching on equally unhealthy food.. (fried food at unbelievable low prices!)

7. Sometimes, really yucky food.
I understand, army guys have no choice.. I sympathise greatly. Wish I could do something for u guys. I did try e green packet. it is just edible. (Sometimes, we can see some ppl dressed in green no.4 in our canteens..) well for e Uni ppl, its all luck n experience that you get to eat tasty food. e safest: Macdonalds

8. Dozing and nodding off on the way back home.... ( thats e best thing!)



9. the haze. we were not exempted from anything when it became really unhealthy...



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Thursday, November 09, 2006

My share of army experience

Hi, this is my 1st contribution! X )

They say mothers have a share in army experience.

Actually female kakis (pals) also have a share. I did not know much about army (perhaps a bit from my father and the history textbooks?) It was until 1 of the 2 best friends was going to serve NS in 2mths' time.

That was when the big words “Oh sh*t!” appeared in my mind. He happened to be my interest at that time. Damn. There goes the effort to build up rapport with him.

I started to worry for him. A lot. “Have you packed your stuff? Have you brought enough to last through the confinement? Don’t act stupid or act gung-ho there! Please stay in 1 piece. Would I get to see you again” and etc. I was more like his mother than his friend. (maybe even more naggy than his mother since I called up especially to check on him)

Finally, we reached the day before the enlistment. I called him because he was ill. I asked him, “ Have you bring your medicine? All packed?” After saying that, I was speechless, until he said he had other things to do. I was left alone to bang my head against the wall.

That was it. He left the Singapore Island for that mysterious island, leaving me missing him a lot. I tried to understand, but got frustrated for several occasions during his BMTC. He just would not tell me what he was doing in there!

This was what i did in one occasion. Probably, it was the haircut that did something to the brain after all. I yelled at him through the SMS: Cut hair le, so cannot think isit? (sound harsh? But after a thorough thought, I gave up on this. Friends and I had a good laugh over it. Cos we think he might have got immune to it if the Sirs hurl verbal abuse on daily basis)

Well, it is just my complaint of a NSF …



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Sunday, July 09, 2006

stories about my RQ

My RQ was one of the slightly more annoying people I knew during my NS. Here's a encounter I had with her just before my ORD.

I was going to Alexandra Hospital for an appointment. She told me that if I finish before 5.30pm I would have to come back to camp. I had absolutely no intention of going back to camp as I was sweaty and so was my uniform.

I finished my appointment around 4 o'clock. So after that I just walked around the hospital for awhile. Then I went to the McDonalds in Queensway to get a drink. by the time I finished, it was 5 o'clock. So I called her office phone and told her that I've finished already. What she told me next was totally outrageous. She said since the time is 5pm, she'll let me go half an hour early. But tomorrow I have to make it up by staying in camp half an hour later.

That was really unfair. She should have told me this before I left not after. So on my way back home, I sent a message to my S4 telling him what happened. About 15 minute later, the RQ sent me a message saying 'you better call me now'.

So I called her and she started yapping at me, clearly annoyed that she had lost face. So she asked me 'do you think what I did is right, tell me now.' Being the blunt person that I am, I told her straight to her face: NO.

So the next morning during our usual morning briefing, I was a real hot topic with the RQ asking me all sorts of irrelevant questions about the previous day. Basically, she was trying to embarass me. Knowing the cynical person that she is, I just took it in my stride.

But I knew she took it personally though. She told all the other storemen not to sign my clearance until the very last day.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

ORD For Dummies: Part 2

Part 2 of a continuing series.
One month has passed since your 5-month ORD plan started, eh? Did all the previously-mentioned tips? Here's what to do next:

a) Continue saving up! You think one month enough, meh?

b) Check up on the understudy. Manpower might have forgotten ;-)
Or, if he's already here, start training him up! More work for you, yes, but the faster he learns the faster you can start doing other stuff. As far as possible don't hand-hold him through - nobody took over their appointment by handholding. Let him make mistakes and learn from them, under your guidance. He'll thank you for it.

c) Got approval for punishment-clearing plan? Good. Try not to accumulate any more. Unless you really don't give a damn.

d) Got approval for your leave forecast? Good. Need more time? No problem - there's still 4 months.

e) Started clearing your work? Good. Put that to-do list to good use! And try not to add any more items under the already-existing ones. Try to push them to the understudy, whether he exists or not. Nobody likes to take over a work in progress, so let them be the ones to initiate it.

Not much at this point in time, try to get the above done because next month you're going to be working your ass off.




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Monday, April 24, 2006

Oranje

With under 6 months left till what every national serviceman looks forward to - their ORD date, I would have thought I have so far gone through it without much of upsetting the rules and in particular haven't been knocked down. So of course to my amazement, last week I got knocked down my the one everybody absolutely LOVES at the moment - my CSM.

What for? Cos' a small bit of my orange cloth was sticking out of my cupboard during stand by area. In fairness, he did recover me when I was 2/3 way through the 30. But then again ... ! The army never ceases to amaze me.





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Thursday, March 30, 2006

ORD for Dummies

Now that I'm out in society, I realise I was really ill-prepared for civilian life. I was so busy clearing work during my leave period and never realised how much preparation it required to actually transit to civilian life. So, for future batches of NSFs, here's a simplified guide to ORDing, in peace, with a clear conscience and with sufficient funding to last you until you get a job.

Of course, the following advice is for those holding important appointments, such as store i/cs, clerks, officers and the like. Men, drivers etc will probably have a much easier time.

also note that the following points may vary depending on new directives and also on unit SOP. You mileage may vary, please adjust accordingly.

Step 1: 5 months before you ORD
Contrary to popular belief, pre-ORD preparation does not begin 3 months before - it begins up to 5 months before D-day. First things you must do:

a) Start saving up
b) Request for an understudy
c) Plan to clear any outstanding punishments you may have
d) Start planning your off and leave days
e) Begin making plans for handing over (see item b)

More elaboration to follow.

a) Save up. Why so early? Because you will probably need something to the tune of $500 to keep you going for at least a month after you ORD. Of course, if your post-ORD life is going to consist of only sleeping, eating and more sleeping (assuming all for free), then adjust your requirement accordingly. Otherwise, this is a rough estimate.

If you don't think you need $500 to survive, then plan your own requirement. Just keep in mind that many things provided by the SAF are no longer free, such as medical care, food, and possibly lodging as well.

b) See item e.

c) Plan to clear outstanding punishments. Because there might be CSMs evil enough to stop you clearing leave just to clear extras. And also because you need a good COS, and chioning your extras is only going to hurt in the short term. Besides, this shouldn't be too hard, if you haven't been slacking around. If you just happen to have a bastard PS/CSM, then too bad. Shit happens, try to live with it.

Having a clear punishment record will also make it easier for all the other things you need to do, such as applying leave.

d) Start planning your off and leave. More specifically, start finding out when you absolutely cannot apply off and leave. Can't give you any more details than this, use your own discretion. But planning important days in advance will cause less disruption to your near-ORD life, give your commanders plenty of warning (so they don't du lan you), and basically make your life more organised. But leave enough days for you to clear adhoc.

e) Begin making plans for handing over. Because things don't happen overnight in the SAF. Or maybe even within the next month or so.

First thing you would want to do is ask for The Understudy (TM). If he arrives, he will be an extra set of limbs you can utilise for your own needs, until he is capable of doing your job. Ask your commander about this, or if he is the slack type, just ask the reinforcement i/c in MP branch directly (but let your boss know!). Check every week, or every other week, to see if they've acknowledged your info. And never stop asking about your understudy - MP branch gets bombarded with lots of info on a daily basis, it wouldn't hurt to give them a personal reminder service.

Next, draft out a list of your responsibilities. Decide how you are going to hand them over to the understudy. No need for too much detail, just a rough order in which to hand over will do. Specifics can wait another month or two.

Also draft out a list of outstanding tasks that need doing. Routine tasks need not be included, just one-shot, adhoc items requested by people you have met along the way. Start working on the big items, and try to clear the smaller items.


Stay tuned for Part 2, in which I will detail the things that need to be done 4 months before you ORD. Stay well and out of trouble!




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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

When I was just a chao recruit,
I asked my sergeant, what will I be?
Will I be PC? Will I be 3SG?
Here's what he said to me.

Balls to you, recruit,
This is not your father's army,
Your future's not yours to see,
Sign extra for me.
...
I now know how the song ends.

Balls to you, CPL,
This is not your father's army,
Not happy don't ORD,
Wait inside DB.

That's what I tell my drivers anyway, and on hindsight it may seem cruel, but my conscience is clear because we all do what we have to. In those 2 years much is expected of us and we do our best to deliver, and the consequences of our actions are what changes us from boys to men, age irregardless.

The things I did during my 2 years don't matter to me anymore - they have been neatly filed and stored away somewhere (I hope), and I carry with me not the burden of responsibility, but the lessons I learned as an OCT and as a transport 2LT.


We all enter NS as recruits, forming judgments and opinions with what little we know, and months later we look back and laugh at ourselves, for knowing so little then. And we don't realise that we still know very little even now, until months have passed and we are laughing at ourselves once again.

And so I am laughing at myself now, for singing the last paragraph of that song out loud to my drivers while talking to them at the smoking point (at a point in time when discipline was extraordinarily poor). Laughing not because I find it lame or unnecessary, but because I realise my drivers have probably known it a long time ago, and had I taken action sooner, they would be the ones singing that song to me, instead of vice-versa

It's only been 2 weeks since my 11B "has to used in conjunction with my NRIC", so realisations like these are still coming to me everyday. For instance, just yesterday, when talking to a friend on the phone, I realised that half the things I said in NS didn't actually need saying, because as a transport PC my actions stand in for words, and real words are necessary only because they are the only official legislation recognised by the SAF, and for everything else that isn't covered by military law, actions are more than enough. All I had to do to enforce discipline was make latecomers stand under the sun for a half-hour after first parade, no lectures, talks or scoldings needed.

Funnily enough, 6 months ago I was begging to ORD, but here I am, wishing I could go back and fix those mistakes (or at least help my understudy avoid them). And then I realise with wry irony that had I fixed those mistakes, I wouldn't be thinking these thoughts and making these realisations now.

So I let my understudy continue making mistakes, because these mistakes are the lessons he will bring with him when he ORDs. It's the least I could do for him. And I hope he will let the understudy after him continue making mistakes as well. Because what more can an NSF wish for, than to ORD in peace, with his NRIC, and with 2 years' worth of mistakes? The resulting admin lapse? Don't worry, the SAF can take it.

You ever have the experience of dreaming about the perfect solution to a problem that resolved itself/blew off months ago? I still have these every single day. A few days ago I remembered a driver leaving his vehicle during a detail because "it got boring, and he just wanted to wander off for a while", and the 2WO calling me up to complain, and me telling the driver off, and me giving him 3 extras. And I was pondering what would have been different if after the phone call I had simply gone down to the parade square, carried out the detail on behalf of the driver, and on the driver's return make him polish my boots, ta bao my lunch, and put him on 5sec NTM upon my activation for errands - for the rest of the week, effectively depriving him of any personal time he may wish for, smoke breaks included.

Ideally it would bring the message of customer satisfaction across to the 2WO, make it clear to the drivers that any lapse of responsibility on their part would be borne by me (but paid back 5 times by them) and hopefully prevent such future incidents, but I would never know the outcome because back then I was too busy to think of this and try it out. Perhaps it might never work, but it reminds me once again that to every problem there is more than one solution, and the only way to avoid settling down into a mentally-degerating thinking pattern is to keep an open mind.

The biggest lesson NS has taught me is that we all choose the paths we take. No one is ever forced into doing something. There is always more than one choice. All we have to do is to find out, as completely as possible, the effects and consequences of each possible choice (most of these are common knowledge/sense), before committing to a decision. Knowing this, we have no excuse for denying responsibility for our actions. Anyone who doesn't understand this even after he ORDs has just wasted his 2 years. So don't complain about going to DB if you knew that what you were about to do would land you in there. Side-note: If you don't know what can land you in DB, check with your PC/supervisor or manpower clerk. Or if you have an MP (mil police) friend, all the better.

To all those still serving and/or soon-to-serve, all the best to you and your NS experience.

Signing off,

LTA(NS) Ng


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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Behind the chevroned number 4

Friends who know me say that I do not have what it takes to be an instructor as I'm too soft-hearted and kind to do anything horrible to recruits.

Well here's a chance for you folks to see how I am like in camp! Well not exactly see but you can hear, right from the horses mouth how I behave in camp. Bwahahaha. And what better way then to hear from the recruits themselves!

Yeah. The recruits were told to type last weekend, half a page of appraisal for their individual platoon commanders. Taa-daa! The end of course instructor appraisals are out and hear what the maggots in camp say about me...

THE GOOD

"One of the few instructors who bother to do PT with us, kinds of motivates us to do better when commanders train beside us."

"Knows a lot of extra stuff that is not taught in BMT anymore but still goes through the extra mile to impart his knowledge."

"Makes lame jokes but at least it loosens up the tense training atmosphere."

"Understand the pains of a recruit and guides us accordingly."

THE BAD

"May look like another JC kid on the block but he is no pushover, of all the sergeants I fear him the most."

"Lacks adequate communication with us. Does not really care for our welfare."

"Has temperamental mood swing, can be joking with you one moment and screaming at you in another."

"His tall lanky frame is the harbringer of the most hineous of punishments."

THE UGLY

"Likes to say 'You maggots are climbling on my head. And even worse! You guys are shitting on it! Like to take my kindness as my weakness right?' Normally after this we would face the floor."

"Looking at him during training makes you think he is an ass or someone very unreasonable and a lot of hatred is involved."

"We have so much to do and we only fall in late for 1 min and he knock us down... Bloody hell."

"His flaunt of blatantly blunt degratory and insultory phrases during his frequent scolding sessions, without the use of profanities and vulgarities shows he has a good command of the language. But some of us being non-jc students or hokkien soldiers would not understand what he says."

And...

THE IRRELEVANT

"Has a good sense of dressing especially in his taste of shoes. But his watch is rather gay looking and is not his type. He should change to those metal strapped watches."

"His more than frequent use of colourful and complex English phrases would put any GP tutors to shame."

"Plays too much basketball but is very good at shooting especially from the 3-pt range."

"This supposedly harmless, buck-tooth and mild-mannered instructor has a monster lurking behind his cute smile."

The things recruits say. Hahaha. You can tell some of them are more proficient than I am in terms of language. And its not suprising. This bunch of JC punk asses are quite astute I must say. I've recruits who score 7 distinctions for A levels just this year. WTH....

But I just laugh it all off. As I told them on the first day of their enlistment, "I'm not here to please you or to make your stay here enjoyable." And why should I care when I'll ORD in 3 months??? Bwahaha!!! *Evil laugh* Of course there are much more things they mentioned about me but I just chose some of the more interesting ones.

Anyone got any funny things your man said about you or any funny characteristics or habits of past superiors to share?
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