Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Three Magic Items of the SAF

I am sure before enlistment no one knows what "black tape" was, unless you were some electrician, but still you will just call them "insulating tapes" since they also came in red, green, and blue, etc. I remember during my first book out NTUC RAN OUT OF black tapes - there only red and yellow left and in the end my dad have to give me one roll from his toolbox.

And Kiwi - before enlistment we all knew that it refers to the hairy juicy fruit from New Zealand... within a few days of BMT this has became a noun that means the wax, a verb that means the action of "polishing using the wax" - and later in unit it just means "cover in black".

And the green tube of insect repellant - initially I will mistake it for my camo cream when I am gan-cheong.

The three items - black tape, kiwi, and insect repellant, miraculously become the most handy stuff you need in NS.

Black tapes were just like "military version of scotch tape" - it ties loose ends of your field pack strap into a neat lump, holds together ALL broken stuff (eg, broken spectacles, cracked equipment), and when you ran out of plaster, all you need is some tissue paper and black tape and you have an instant bandage. Being black in nature, it was also used to "blacken stuff" like its brother, Kiwi. While Kiwi can only blacken surfaces like shoe, rifle sling and rifle butt, black tapes can be applied to metallic surfaces, like Arc of Fire sticks, ET stick handles, etc, where Kiwi just cannot stick.

Didn't I mention I missed my black tape when I need to tape around my badminton racket handle?

Kiwi was a miracle on its own. No matter how dirty the boots are, Kiwi returns the shine in a short time - so you are always ready for inspection in the next roll-call. I was quite amazed - I mean, after you wash some mud off your boots after chiong sua, you will still see a thin layer of dirt that is hard to wash off at the boot washing bay - it's like you have to scrub it to remove them. But applying Kiwi just so magically gets rid of the hard-core dirt that can't be removed by the hydraulic force of water.

I was always puzzled - if I kind of slice open my boots, will I see a leather-mud-kiwi-mud-kiwi-mud-kiwi layer? If not, where did all the mud go?

Kiwi has also other uses where "black is good, black is clean, and black is neat" - I initially find it so stupid to wipe the rifle sling and rifle butt with kiwi to keep it "clean". I guess the proper way will be to wash it under water to get rid of the dirt, or at least get a wet cloth and scrub to get clean the rubber rifle butt. But kiwi is just so simple and so efficient - no one cares if your uniform get some kiwi stains when you actually fire your weapon and have the rifle butt rubbing against your shoulder - the DO only checks the rifle in the armstoke!

Let's not forget our insect repellent - honestly I used the commercial version - OFF in outfield instead (You can see me putting a can of orange colour OFF in my SBO bullet pouch - but being tactical I wrap it in the dark brown combat ration bag). People are doubtful about the actual "insect repelling" ability of the SAF repellent. Just a month ago my friends and I went for a hiking trip in the Appalachian trials in New York, and my friend brought a tube of the green repellent from Beach Road - it was actually QUITE useful to repel mosquitoes... but I am not sure whether it is as good when tested against the swarm of mosquitoes in Area D.

Anyway, even if you are doubtful about its insect repelling abilities, you have to agree that it's a good white-board cleaner. SAF insect repellents came in handy especially spring cleaning in camp - somehow the hardiest stain on the white-board can be removed easily by SAF insect repellant. This applies to some hardy stains on the walls as well. Where the green colour General Purpose cleaning fluid of SAF fails, the colourless insect repellant always give you pleasant surprises.

But be careful about using the insect repellents to clean stuff - my friend was using it to clean the lens of the periscope for his Bionix to get rid of some dirt, but after rubbing it hard it smears his lens permanently - wow, the insect repellent actually corrodes the lens material. Either the repellant is too powerful or ST makes lousy Bionix periscopes. It was also known that insect repellents smears "telts - the clear plastic sheet used for overlaps (please tell me the correct spelling)" So if you want to erase permanent marker marks, our S2 Branch uses nail polish - it works surprisingly well as nail polish is a good solvent. But with a few use, the bottle of clear nail polish will turn pink (with dissolved ink) and the Int sergeant will start calling it "Bandung".


Woof! said...

you forgot the good ol' orange cloth... how could you? :o)

Hai~Ren said...

Oh yes... now that you mentioned... the orange cloth. Haha... still got a few lying all over the place for general cleaning purposes.

But I think the importance of black tape is unrecognised. I've lost count of the number of times I've had to dig out that trusty ol' roll of black tape. Sure does keep those stray ends of the straps and buckles of my backpack in check.


Mr Miyagi said...

There's a story on 'white tape' and its dozen uses. Who wants to start?

cokecat said...

White tape, for those that cannot swim and have to somehow get through the river crossing segment of their training :P


Hai~Ren said...

To signal the presence of a hornet's nest or beehive, or one of those ant nests.

Or to demarcate the boundaries of a shithole. Hahaha.


thecrazzybugger said...

in the bloody engineers, black tape was also used to connect explosive wire to the TNT blox.. and to tie up my platoonmate before we used kiwi on his balls for his birdday.
1)anyway I don't know whether its just us or not, but we used to kiwi the tires of our 7 tonners before inspection.the rifle straps of the SAR 21 before NDP parade...alot of other wayang shit we had to do all involved kiwi sial..
2)insect repellent doesnt work at all man! Especially when u're wet from swampy water building bloody rafts all night in an exercise. However, it fulfills a very valuable role as an elephant remover in the effing M16 barrel. I used it to clean my barrel and my bolt carrier group before my CSM caught me doing that and fucked me left right center sial.

jon said...

i think its seplt 'talc'. i could be wrong though.

white tape: salvation for the lost... when doing topo in brunei. i think they organised a huge clean up party after a training frame for one of the units that went up... not much white tape in brunei now.

the trick to using the saf insect repellent is to smear it on a rolled up piece of flannelette (preferably one that has been used to clean your barrel) and than burn it (like you would a mosquito coil). you'd be amazed to see the effect. those with acne take special note: insect repellant on your skin will cause permanent scarring! i personally never really used the repellant directly on my skin... usually just smeared it on my back of the thigh area of my no.4 slacks where the mozzies would bite through whenever we squatted at the side of the track during a halt.

kureshii said...

Mmmm...let's see.

White tape: Used to mark out danger areas, or route of advance during missions (Coy recce team does that for us - we just follow). Also used to demarcate admin areas, lilke ammo points and so on. Is thick and stretchy piece of white plasticky stuff taht is pretty indestructible (like black tape). Only gripe I have with white tape is that it is not self-adhesive. Fixed that by purchasing the white version of black tape - now i can easily mark out firebases and routes during TEWTs (pre-mission recce of defense area, that kind of stuff).

Black tape: Universal glue. As my AWSM (asst. wing sgt major) says, "black tape is not a permanent solution", but before you have a chance to apply a more permanent solution black tape is the best thing you have. I always bring 5 rolls for extended outfield training. 2 rolls will inevitably get koped or lent to other people.

Blue tape: Less useful version of blakc tape because of its non-tac status. only uxed to tape up dummy weights.

Yellow/Red/Green: Used to label SBO/field pack, and platoon/section eqpt and stores.

Repellent: Almost never does that. And almost never used, for 2 reasons - cumbersome to take out and use, and does nasty things to stuff. Burns wounds, melts plastic, smears ink markings. The more chem-oriented ones among you should take a look at the ingredients - N,N-dimethyltoluene, if I'm not wrong, is quite a strong base. Cleans any stain (have yet to find one uncleanable), but not suggested for ink markings because of its tendency to scar the writing surface (had a piece of telt melt on me once because i didn't spread it out fast enough.)

chainsawieldinun said...

black tape! holds anything and does everything! secure SBO strap, render yakult bottles make-believe grenades, secure loose rifles parts so that they don't kena koped in the middle of the night, water-proofing, blah blah blah.

or, as a friend says, "the SAF is probably the one consumer that props up the local insulation tape industry." enough said.

is it just me or did noone mention foot powder? :P

kureshii said...

not magical enough: troublesome to take out and apply, and not convenient enough. also does not have enough applications to justify a spot on the hall of fame.

Singapore Calamari said...

Yes, I am in Combat Engineers.
Black tape is a MUST !

Secure electrical cables for demolition.
Insulate electrical cables to prevent short circuit in demolition.
Tape explosives together !
Tape the detonator to the explosives.
If we need to make any special charges (like to blow a tree, to blow a wall, whatever), no black tape => cannot complete the mission.

huckerby said...

isn't it funny how the SAF teaches you all these words you never know how to spell ;)