Sunday, December 05, 2004

Why do people take up SAF Scholarships?

A "current NJC student" asks:

"if army were so bad as you have said, why would scholars willingly take up the scholarship?"

Ah. An opportunity to analyse the minds of SAF scholars. Where to begin, I wonder?


Here are some possibilities:

1) Prestige - scholarships are prestigious and SAFOS is one of the three most prestigious scholarships in Singapore

2) Insulation - Scholars, especially SAFOS ones, are insulated from all the low-level crap that the scum of the earth suffer, because of their rank (as officers) and exalted status as scholars. They are not subjected to the dehumanising treatment that mere scum of the earth (ie enlistees) go through. Instead of getting screwed, they get to screw other people (if they choose). Even BMT, the putative great leveller, is different from them, for all, or almost all potential SAF scholars enter what are known as "Scholar Companies", or even better, companies with White Horses in them.

As someone put it: "slaves and royalty stay in the same palace but lead vastly different lives"

3) Obliviousness - Some recipients of (local) study awards I spoke to in my tenure as a slave told me they regretted signing on. Maybe some - those who get scholarships before enslavement - don't know what they're getting into.

Friends of mine tell me of those who got SAF scholarships, some on the spur of the moment, who later regretted. For example, one is quoted as saying: "I really wanted to go overseas, didn't think I'd suffer so much afterwards"; to many Singaporean JC students, an overseas education is the Holy Grail, so in their quest to get it, they neglect the fact that on their return they'll have a 6 year bond to serve. Of the above, I am told that: "now all he wants to do is enjoy himself and die young"

4) Nature of the job - As a friend puts it: "these scholars want to look for something that needs no effort, pays a lot, and gives them the ability to fuck people around. what else do u need?" He adds: "usually cos they are enslaved, they are brainwashed, and usually stay till they die, mentally or physically"

Since it's highly unlikely that Singapore will ever go to war, you get to slack and won't actually have to engage in real combat. And since you get promoted quickly to command-level posts, you don't actually have to go outfield (and experience similar messy and gritty activities) that often.

5) Affection/suitability for Army Life - Strange but true. Some people actually like army life. But then, some people like BDSM also, so. *insert latin phrase that's not good to use too often, or it loses its impact*

Some people are also better suited for the job than others, so they are inclined to taking it.

6) Future job prospects - Apparently some scholars get to become Colonels at age 30. You can't beat the job security either - even incompetent regulars don't get fired, since there's next to no way to assess their job performance, let alone scholars. Also, the SAF has a great retirement plan. Even after retiring, you'll want for naught - they'll find a way to parachute you into a suitably comfortable, important and well-paying job (even if you're not suited for it). See: Our Scholars - Success Stories

7) They fit one or more of the other criteria - As I said, there are 4 types of people who sign on. Some scholars fit into one or more of those categories, namely: being sadistic, being greedy for the money (you get a $750,000 gratuity when you retire) and being incapable of finding jobs outside.

8) Brainwashing - Some are brainwashed. A friend tells of a time when there was a recruitment talk in OCS (Officer Cadet School) and "the whole LT signed on" because of brainwashing.

Some people are taken in by the rhetoric about Duty, Honour and Country, and the old lie - Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori - 'It is sweet and proper to die for one's country' (Horace, Odes, iii ii 13)

9) Since you have to be a slave anyway, some figure that they might as well get a free education, a well charted-out career path, relatively good pay (especially for the 2 years of compulsory slavery), an effective bond time of 4 years (formerly 3 1/2 years) and "respect". Oh, and some girls like men in uniform (I know at least two with an army uniform fetish)


As for why non-scholars sign on (or get Local Study Awards or the like):

10) Getting to be an officer - Some people sign on because that's the only way they'll get to be officers. I know this guy who, while a normal slave, was a PTI (Physical Training Instructor - think your PE teacher on steroids and with a bad attitude), but became an officer after signing on. From a cursory study of him, I conclude that he was sore at not becoming an officer and signed on to attain that status.

[Ed: The above has been modified since its original posting.]

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

From the IceRed Forum, an RJC student pointed out that SAF is a very good route into politics. I do not know the exact statistics but I believe a high proportion of ministers and politicians moved over from the army. They do not have to worry about their lack of skills as most statutory boards and GLCs will (as my friend at McKinsey puts it) at least give them 'face' and hire them.

I do not support or love the army but I would like to point out a different perspective. (as i told agagooga before,my colonel said that promotion is a privillege, for clerks!) For the scholars, they receive a different treatment right from the beginning. When they return, they are working in a JOB and advancing their CAREER, which the rest of us are not. Hence, they do not see it as forced servitude but simply as what they need to do to feed themselves.

Regards,
SKH

Anonymous said...

I think this might shed some much needed perspective on why SAFOS scholars willingly take up the scholarship in spite of a supposedly 'regimented' life.

http://www.scholar.mindef.gov.sg/ourscholars_succ_intro.asp

SAFOS are catapulted to prominent positions in GLCs and ministries after their tenure. The 2 most prominent ex SAFOS are Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Hsien Yang. Look at the list and you'll find that most of our ministers, perm secretaries, minister of state, CEO of GLCs are ex SAFOS. I will not attempt to explain the reason for this, unlike the other respondents to your rant.

BTW, on your point no.3, SAF local study award winners are NOT considered scholars by anyone, not even by the SAF.

If you go to the Mindef/Army site, you will find the SAFOS and SMS being called SAF Overseas Scholarship and SAF Merit Scholarship respectively, while the SAF itself calls the rest the Local Study AWARD (LSA).

All their local awards are strictly named "awards", and I have not come across a single person who signed on with the SAF, in NUS and NTU who consider himself a "scholar", simply because the LSA is super easy to get. Any tom, dick or harry can get it, literally. (Minimal A level credits, having been in OCS, nothing else whatsoever)

It is clear why the local study awardees you spoke to regret their indenture. They are treated no differently from someone who signed on AFTER he finishes his degree-ie a non scholar/non award-winner.

In SAF's eyes, the local award does not signify or represent their creme de la creme, and is merely another way of attracting (or trapping, if you like) young people to serve as officers through means of a free local university education.

How many SAFOS can they find to serve as officers? How many NSF 2LTA is needed to fill up all the officer positions? The Local Study Award does the job perfectly. Unlike SAFOS, LSA holders do not have a sheltered or accelerated career path, and neither do they enjoy preferential treatment in the Army.

They're left to waste their time and wither away till their tenure ends, and mostly leave because they have not enjoyed the proverbial job security in the Army to safeguard their future, and have wasted enough time of their lives since graduation.

On your point No.2, you might like to know that all for all SAFOS, SMS and LSA holders, they are only awarded the awards AFTER their BMT.

In fact, one of the criteria for SAFOS, besides sterling academic results and impressing ECA records, is outstanding performance in OCS. Which means scholars (this term, only used for SAFOS and SMS) can only become scholars AFTER they finish their BMT and OCS. In fact, the day they receive their sword from the Minister as commissioned 2LTA is also the day they receive their SAFOS award.

So, no, SAFOS don't receive preferential treatment at BMT in the least. In fact they had to have performed way more outstandingly in BMT and OCS to be shortlisted, among the gruelling criteria.

This also negates your point no.5. All SAFOS are already officers before they become scholars. They don't sign on to become officers. I think the case you raised, is of a normal graduate aspiring to be a commissioned officer and had to sign on after failing on his own merits. You should be clearer about that, and change the title of your tirade to "WHY DO NON SCHOLARS SIGN ON?" and NOT "WHY DO PEOPLE TAKE UP SAF SCHOLARSHIPS?".

Please be aware that the usual non SAFOS/SMS person who sign on after his NUS/Australian degree is a far far cry from a SAFOS scholarship holder. It might be truer to say that those who resort to signing on after their NUS degrees are those rejected by society for some reasons, or have a hard time finding a job. Whereas, even if you tried to get a SAFOS scholarship now by redoing your A levels, you won't even smell the grass on the courts.

P/S: Point no.2, the "scholar platoon" or "scholar company" is on par, even not more privileged than the "white horse platoon". BTW, did you know that there're several classes of white horse? The highest white horse class is that of "son of minister". The lowest among them, is to qualify as "son of parents who make above 100K annually (includes bonuses)". That's all it takes. It is easier to chance upon a white horse than a SAFOS in your camp.

I just feel that you should be more enlightened and edified on certain essential facts about the SAF scholarship system before you post an ill-informed rant on it. However, I applaud your ingenius insight that shone in the remaining points.

-Someone Who Knows Better

Agagooga said...

Due changes made.

But overall I think my rant was more accurate than ill-informed.

Scarlett Ting said...

oh. my shallow debut here.

Did I hear men in uniform? Someone restrain me, quick!

Yes, uniform do drive (some)women wild *smitten*..

And boy, did many faces flash by as I read each category and could put my friends' faces to everyone of them.

Wind Feynman said...

SAFOS is definitely a way to climb to the top of the political ladder in Singapore... high-ranking officals get PLACED at stat boards when there's a need to clear them from the over-crowded rank of the Generals so that the young ones can get promoted. (Well, the new DSTA head is an ex-admiral) Honestly how many Generals you need for a small army like the SAF?

Anyway, yes, Local study award ppl can't get out of the SAF... they will probably serve their life in SAF. SAFOS is different.. they can take you out and place u as heads of stats boards, and from then you can freely go around the top of the social ladder in Singapore.

SAF is the place where you don't need to be very capable and still got great year-end bonus.. while the rest of the ppl in the economic sector are working their ass off to improve the economy, SAF ppl just need to sit there to collect the bonus when the economy is doing good. Anyway, who bothers about management in the army? You got free-flowing taxpayer's money to mismanage.

My JC got a retired (colonel? major?) as a "Operation Manager" who did nothing and heard that the pay is like 5000 per month to match his salary scale in army. WTF. Complete waste of resources. This shows the incompetency of ppl in SAF.. once you get in, you can't get out coz it drains you of your ability doing nothing but stupid things like chiong sua...

I've seen one JC SAFOS scholar in 42 (Cpt Khoo Teng Lip), looking damn tired, smoking heavily, but LL, still going thru captain tour (with no companies under him), doing sai gang during NDP.

Wind Feynman said...

SAFOS is definitely a way to climb to the top of the political ladder in Singapore... high-ranking officals get PLACED at stat boards when there's a need to clear them from the over-crowded rank of the Generals so that the young ones can get promoted. (Well, the new DSTA head is an ex-admiral) Honestly how many Generals you need for a small army like the SAF?

Anyway, yes, Local study award ppl can't get out of the SAF... they will probably serve their life in SAF. SAFOS is different.. they can take you out and place u as heads of stats boards, and from then you can freely go around the top of the social ladder in Singapore.

SAF is the place where you don't need to be very capable and still got great year-end bonus.. while the rest of the ppl in the economic sector are working their ass off to improve the economy, SAF ppl just need to sit there to collect the bonus when the economy is doing good. Anyway, who bothers about management in the army? You got free-flowing taxpayer's money to mismanage.

My JC got a retired (colonel? major?) as a "Operation Manager" who did nothing and heard that the pay is like 5000 per month to match his salary scale in army. WTF. Complete waste of resources. This shows the incompetency of ppl in SAF.. once you get in, you can't get out coz it drains you of your ability doing nothing but stupid things like chiong sua...

I've seen one JC SAFOS scholar in 42 (Cpt Khoo Teng Lip), looking damn tired, smoking heavily, but LL, still going thru captain tour (with no companies under him), doing sai gang during NDP.

Anonymous said...

How can a SAFOS be a Cpt at 42 years old? They're already a Cpt at age 25.

Anyway, i don't think it is very nice to say that these SAFOS scholars are incapable or drain taxpayer's money. My cousin is an Army scholar, and I can safely say that he is nothing short of brilliant, not only academically but he has proven his capabilities and really earned his stripes in the Army.

Have you all ever thought that, other than the obviously bitter perspective that they're "emplaced" as heads of stat boards because of a long held government policy of 'giving SAF face', the SAFOS were groomed for political position right from the start of their service?

As an investment banker, you surely have immense knowledge in the financial world. As a consultant, you also have incredible knowledge in the corporate world. I cite these professions because they're common professions Ivy League/Oxbridge graduates, which SAFOS are, go into. But do they have the commanding and leading experience that someone in the Army has? How many people does an investment banker has under him? One secretary maybe?

All SAFOS know that their experience in the Army strategically primes them for key political positions in the future. The government sees that a military commanding position gives one the necessary skills and experience to lead the country. Why be so bitter about it? How illogical is it when almost all other governments practise the same thing? Look at the American political hierarchy, for a most apparent example. The closest aides to the President invariably are military personnels.

Challenging a long held practice with such spite and bile, that is not without merit obviously, otherwise it wouldn't be a uniform (pardon the pun) practice held by the rest of the world, only casts you in a bitter light that reeks of sour grapes.

Regards,
not so bitter law student

Anonymous said...

May i remind you, that a typical SAFOS would have at least 120 men under him by age 25. By age 31, at the end of their service, they would be either a LTC or a COL, and would be commanding close to 500 men. What is the leading and commanding experience of a 31 year old investment banker?

The experience of a SAFOS in the Army directly befits the role of a government official in a statutory board or a minister. In terms of leading and commanding, as well as the gargantuan logistics involved in managing a ministry or sector of governance.

Maybe if you all cast your bitter prejudices aside because you never did as well in school as scholars did, you'd be able to see the sense that the rest of the world always knew.

Regards,
not so bitter law student

Anonymous said...

To Law student:

I am not going to stoop to your level and trade personal insults. I would like to point out that I never said that SAFOS are stupid. Rather, they are smart people (albeit not particularly risk-taking) who just do not have relevant qualifications for the private sector. That is why the army offers a premium as the skills are not particularly transferrable.

You mentioned the numbers that are under the command of COL and LTC. I must point out the numbers which they actually interact and directly lead and inspire is the same as the numbers which investment bankers or middle managers meet. My unit's COL talks to a grand total of 6 people on a regular basis. The NSFs like me who make up those numbers have yet to see him even once. Hence, it is unfair to say that they will perform better than the IBs or consultants when it comes to leadership (NOT that those two groups are particularly good managers either).

The reason why SAFOS people tend to underachieve (in general, not referring to every SAFOS person) is that there is simply less pressure to perfom. It is a simple fact that in the private sector, if you do not make your performance targets, you can be easily replaced and booted out. Top investment banks and consultancies practise 'up or out'. If you are not moving up the ranks quickly, you will be fired without much thought. I can't see SAF willing to discard all that investment by kicking out scholars who under-perform (short of a MAJOR screw up).

The recent why so much dissing of SAFOS people in the stat board occurs is because of a difference in corporate culture. Spending 20 over years in the army shapes your thinking. You are used to obeisance and different methods of operations. Not all this are applicable in the stat boards and people do not appreciate being treated like a recruit or junior officer out there.

All in all, SAFOS get a pretty good deal due to the ready entry into politics, high stability and latitude of incompetence tolerated (not to say that SAFOS are incompetent, just a description of the type of job.) If you wish to spend more time with your family and friends, and you would like such a job, it can be a pretty good deal.

Regards,
SKH

Anonymous said...

[Quote: the SAFOS were groomed for political position right from the start of their service?]

You have proven my point exactly. It is a political career that they are groomed for. Stat boards are NOMINALLY not political.

As for the US president's closest aides being generals, I must point out that it is blatantly untrue. Even under the Bush administration which I so despised and this war time period, Bush closest aides, Condolezza and Rumsfield spent a large part of their careers in the private sector. The 'closest' general, Colin Pow Wow Wow has left. Too bad!

On Personal Insults and Differences in opinion:

I have always had a high opinion of law students as independent thinkers. However, I do not see how dissing the background (versus the arguments) of those you argue with helps your case. I am from a neighborhood school and I am proud of it.

As for grades, I do not care how well I do relative to the scholars as they have their own interests and I have mine. What makes them happy might not bring happiness to me so any comparison of grades is futile (although I wished I did not skip that many days of school anyway =). All i want to do now is to go to China and do that photo project of rural China that I have always longed to do.

Regards,
SKH

Anonymous said...

[Quote: the SAFOS were groomed for political position right from the start of their service?]

You have proven my point exactly. It is a political career that they are groomed for. Stat boards are NOMINALLY not political.

As for the US president's closest aides being generals, I must point out that it is blatantly untrue. Even under the Bush administration which I so despised and this war time period, Bush closest aides, Condolezza and Rumsfield spent a large part of their careers in the private sector. The 'closest' general, Colin Pow Wow Wow has left. Too bad!

On Personal Insults and Differences in opinion:

I have always had a high opinion of law students as independent thinkers. However, I do not see how dissing the background (versus the arguments) of those you argue with helps your case. I am from a neighborhood school and I am proud of it.

As for grades, I do not care how well I do relative to the scholars as they have their own interests and I have mine. What makes them happy might not bring happiness to me so any comparison of grades is futile (although I wished I did not skip that many days of school anyway =). All i want to do now is to go to China and do that photo project of rural China that I have always longed to do.

Anonymous said...

Wind Feynman said "My JC got a retired (colonel? major?) as a "Operation Manager" who did nothing and heard that the pay is like 5000 per month to match his salary scale in army."

Wind Feynman, just for your info, a Cpt already makes 4-5K at 25 years old. A Col makes close to 10K but not over 10K. All SAFOS scholars are promised the rank of Col by the time they finish their service.

SKH, you sound really agitated. I suggest you calm down and maybe take up yoga. I didn't trade any insults with you, contrary to what your ruffled nerves led you to believe. I simply inferred from the overwhelming bitterness in this post that there was prejudice at play.

I think if you were to spill out the same bile in public, in a coffeeshop, you'll sound no different from one of those taxi drivers or singlet wearing singlets slamming the government while playing with their caged birds.

I applaud you for your charity work. I see that you've taken pains to aggressively reiterate that throughout the whole blog. Just as you feel immense gratification doing charity, SAFOS feel great passion soldiering and leading and serving the military and the country. It's just too bad for you then, if you feel injustice that they get to run the establishment at the end of the day. Also, there's no need to double post. Clogging up the page doesn't make you more credible.

As for the actual number of subordinates that a SAFOS deals with in their daily work day, i'm sure YOU, who haven't as you admitted, seen your COL in the flesh before, would have a VERY ACCURATE picture that your COL only deals with 6 people in his day. I find that highly amusing.

Even if he only deals with 6 people in his work, WHICH I HIGHLY DOUBT, a high ranked military officer has the commanding experience of managaing hundreds of people, that an investment banker, lawyer, doctor or consultant does NOT.

Managing logistics and human resource of that scale, is NOT THE SAME as the number of people you verbally speak to. I'm sure despite the fact that you were from a neighbourhood school (as you so staunchly announced in grandstand, albeit completely unprovoked and unsolicited, as though self consciousness was at play), you'd understand this.

You mentioned in passing that you don't think Investment Bankers and Consultants have great commanding skills anyway. Of cos I know that. I stated already that I cited those 2 professions because they're 2 most common professions Oxbridge/Ivy League grads go into. Can YOU come up with a profession that tops a high ranked military officer in terms of commanding and leading and inspiring?


It's amusing that you'd say Rumsfeld's experience in the private sector negates the fact that he is a military personnel. Same goes to the other guy you mentioned. Oh, Colin Powell resigned on his own. Why are you citing bit information and trivia like what else they did with their lives, or whether they resigned to overturn an argument? Maybe their pastimes or hairstyle might help you win the argument? I think it's plain for all to see that in ALMOST ALL governments, the closest aides to the leader of the nation, and the most high ranking politicians are/were from the Army.

As for your disdain for the Bush administration, it's of no interest to me, has no bearing to the discussion, and does nothing to buttress your flailing case.

Agagooga said...

42 is a unit - 42SAR.

Your cousin may be brilliant, but how has he "earned his stripes" in the army? Has he waged a successful war? Has he helped develop some super weapon? Or has he just gone through his Tour of Duty and been promoted accordingly?

Just how does an SAF career prepare one for Civilian life? The two are extremely different. Which is why those who work under parachuted SAF officers have a load of complaints about their attitudes and competence. Furthermore, political careers are not the same as careers in the civil service, or stat boards. Perhaps the only thing I'll concede is the management and logistics part.

Where else in the world are army officers parachuted (as opposed to actually working their way) into prominent jobs?

Anonymous said...

Agagooga: I'm not at liberty to disclose how he has earned his stripes. In fact I know you'd know as an NS man that military information is classified.

As i said, no other profession literally gives the same level of commanding and leading and logistic management skills. Bear in mind that, leading and managing a stat board requires the immense logistic management skills that an top Army officer possesses. Because of the organisational structure of the Army, the top brass knows how to macromanage better than any other manager who has been in a MNC or stat board all his life. And there's even lesser need to compare that to a average consultant, doctor or investment banker, who manages less than 10 people at the peak of their careers.

End of the day: bottomline, don't be bitter.

Agagooga said...

Classification is rubbish. For the real security classification, just downgrade the putative classification by one level.

Leading? Being a slave master is hardly good for building "leadership" and "command" skills. People tell me that PC and OC tours are usually viewed with disdain by SAFOS scholars, and they yearn to finish that part of their careers quickly.

The thing is, even if military careers do give you some skills, they are all in military contexts. When these military personnel become civilians, many of them carry their military training with them, when it is not at all helpful.

Bitter? Hah! I'd sooner slash my wrists, be castrated and have all 4 limbs amputated, put to death by scaphism, then have my corpse drawn and quartered than sign on with the SAF.

Agagooga said...

Clarification: I'm bitter after my experience as a slave, but not bitter that I didn't get chosen for SAFOS

OMs are, AFAIK, retired Warrant Officers. So 5k is about right.

SKH was making the point that SAFOS scholars feel gratified "serving the nation", but not everyone feels the same way. So expecting everyone to go for "Duty, Honour and Country", and to be willing slaves is ridiculous.

You also seem to pick on miscellaneous bits that we throw in, not necessarily for the sake of advancing our arguments, and then claiming that they're extraneous and so our arguments are less valid. Maybe that's how court cases are done, but we're not doing a court case now - we're having general discussions about slavery, and throwing in miscellaneous facts does not detract from the veracity of our arguments.

Once they get to high ranks, officers don't really deal with people often. It's a well-known fact. And haven't you heard of the grapevine? A slave in the colonel's office tells other slaves how reclusive his colonel is... and pretty soon the whole camp knows. Have you even been a slave? You don't sound like you know much about the reality of slavery.

There seems to be a disconnect between you and the rest of us. Maybe that's why.

Anonymous said...

Agagooga: I did not have a particularly terrible time. Maybe I had the right attitude.

Oh I did not assert that COLs spend lots of time with many of their men. I asserted that 1)Mr SKH has no incontrovertible claim to say that his COL interacts with a grand total of 6 men. Please refer to his claim again for reference, 2) Top brass in the Army are equipped with the necessary skills to MACROmanage a large organisation due to the organisational structure and framework of the military, both in terms of logistics and human resource.

Please don't make me repeat myself by regurgitating non sequitur ramblings.

Agagooga said...

People tell me they go in with the "right attitude" and come out disillusioned and bitter.

I'll be the first to admit that I didn't go in with the "right attitude", but the "right attitude" does not change objective reality.

The SAF is a screwed up place - on this fact, most people agree. Maybe the place you were in was less screwed up than others.


1) The grapevine. Slaves know more than the slavemasters think.

2) Yes, but military training is not wholly applicable to civilian life, and many of them carry their SAF attitudes with them, which is why many people in those organisations are very pissed off.

Anonymous said...

Agagooga, with regards to your aggrieved claim that I used the extraneous comments that SKH liked to make to invalidate his argument,

allow me to further expand for better understanding on your part.

By claiming so, you're alleging that his "innocuous" comments weren't peppered to buttress his arguments. Now let's go back to analyse the statement SKH made.
Quote SKH "As for the US president's closest aides being generals, I must point out that it is blatantly untrue. Even under the Bush administration which I so despised and this war time period, Bush closest aides, Condolezza and Rumsfield spent a large part of their careers in the private sector. The 'closest' general, Colin Pow Wow Wow has left. Too bad!"unquote SKH

Clearly, in this pasted quote, SKH sought to overturn my point that top politicians are more often than not, from the Army. By telling me that 1)Condolezza and Rumsfield have had private sector experience which is extraneous to their being from the military for most of their careers before their foray to politics 2)Colin Powell has resigned, he thought that would distract the readers and myself, and overthrow the argument. Why would trivia about their careers, lives or hairstyles for that matter, affect the veracity that they were all from the Army?

So please, don't come crying foul, that NO ONE here tried to invalidate cogent arguments through adducing nonsensical titbits and trivia.

Anonymous said...

Agagooga,

in response to your
1) The grapevine. Slaves know more than the slavemasters think. (I am slightly miffed that I am made to reiterate my point again. SKH has no incontrovertible claim that his COL in particular, interacted with a grand total of 6 men in the Army. May i point out again, that SKH has NEVER met his COL in the flesh! I shall disregard continued attempts on your part to distract the blog readers from this amusing fact through promulgation of random and inane primary-school style generalisations)

2) Yes, but military training is not wholly applicable to civilian life, and many of them carry their SAF attitudes with them, which is why many people in those organisations are very pissed off. (Military culture may not be similar to that of civil service wholesale, but no other profession is better suited to manage and lead a large organisation. I asked SKH and yourself to name me another vocation which parallels that of a retired SAFOS in terms of logistics and human resource macro-management of that scale, but both of you haven't managed to. Moreover, it makes sense for the government to despatch the best men they groom in the Army right from the beginning of their service. It is not as though they randomly entask any Army regular or Warrant Officer to run the country.)

Anonymous said...

To clarify:

Extraneous and Main points:

Admitably I tend to digress, but you still have not rebutted my main points. You only drew on miscelleanous items in your attempt to discredit me. Quote “Clogging up the page doesn't make you more credible”. The internet was slow when I clicked the button to post so I reclicked it. Apologies!

Running an organization that has large numbers is no proof of ability as most SAFOS people posted in have time only for at most one or two issues before they are promoted out. They are not significantly responsible for all that logistical and human resource which you claim they manage. Most of it is already a self-running system that is managed by the chief clerks and manpower department (not a normal SAFOS position).

Secondly, that still does not prove that they run these organizations well.

If you wish to include people only tangentially or nominally linked to the commander as being managed and led by them, then a CEO at DHL would have over 3.5 million + 170 000 people under him as every delivery boy and customer are served and managed in some way by him. Simply putting the strength under the CO’s name does not mean that they are in any SIGNIFICANT way managed by him.

My CO:

6 People Mr. Col deals with are
1. Deputy head of unit
2. 4 branch heads
3. Secretary

Information obtained from deputy head of unit and confirmed by the rest of the NSFs who provides his morning coffee. I must point out that this is interaction on a regular basis. Of course he does talk to some of the other officers but overall, this are the people he directly ‘motivates’ and ‘leads’ (perfectly in line with hierarchal nature of army).

Regarding Condo Rice & Rumsfield:

My apologies for not being clear. Condolezza is primarily an academic, not a corporate person. She served in an advisory (not full-time) position as a special assistant to the joint chief of staff in 1996. I do not believe 1 year as a person akin to a DXO is equivalent to what you called ‘military person’.

Rumsfield career spanned graduation in 1954 to 2004. Before being sworn in as secretary of defense in the Bush administration, he served a grand total of 3 years in the navy (from 1954 to 1957) and the remaining 47 years in the private sector, which makes for your ‘their being from the military for most of their careers before their foray to politics’.



Charity work:

The reason why I brought up charity work is because you said “Maybe if you all cast your bitter prejudices aside because you never did as well in school as scholars did, you'd be able to see the sense that the rest of the world always knew.”

You are implying that getting a scholarship and doing well in school is the definition of happiness, and unhappiness on the part of others stem from not achieving this aim. I am simply trying to show that it is possible to be happy by taking a different path in life and that I do not see how you arrive at your terribly amusing claim that we are ‘bitter’ because we are not SAFOS people.

My original post is not ‘bitter’ as you claim. I am simply pointing out that Agagooga has ignored the difference in perspective between NSFs and Regulars that results in vastly different attitudes to SAF.

Regards,
SKH

P.s. I can see that you are upset that I said you ‘stooped to personal insults’ at the start of my post. I apologize for that.

Anonymous said...

Most SAFOS people I know are smart, nice and capable people. But managing large numbers, even if not tangentially, does not equate to good private sector/ stat board performance. (I can't say about politics) This is the main gist of my argument.

The culture in the different organizations are simply too great for most SAFOS people to breach successfully. Although there is the rare example of such success, which I consider an amazing feat worthy of recognition. The objectives, incentives, management style, modus operandi...etc. are totally different. Most people have difficulty making a leap from one corporation to another as it is, SAFOS people simply have it much worse.

This is NOT due to their lack of capabilities, but simply due to habits formed from spending most of their career in a very 'unique' work environment!

Regards,
SKH

Agagooga said...

Anonymous: I was referring to things like going to China to do charity work.

2) How about working your way up the rungs as a civil servant? That way you also get to understand the organisation and civil service in general, and actually *know something* about the people you're "managing" (ie Not slaves and fellow slavemasters)

SKH: "I am simply pointing out that Agagooga has ignored the difference in perspective between NSFs and Regulars that results in vastly different attitudes to SAF."

Eh? I thought my post was about showing how the perspectives between the two are different?

Agagooga said...

"Maybe if you all cast your bitter prejudices aside because you never did as well in school as scholars did, you'd be able to see the sense that the rest of the world always knew."

Oh, I forgot to address this part.

Assuming that people deplore something only because they are jealous is ridiculous. Going by this logic, we could say that everyone condemns Hitler only because they are incapable of rising to lead their nation, starting a World War and trying to exterminate a race.

I know people who did well who dislike the SAF, but you'd find some way to discount them. So when you exclude from consideration everyone whom you disagree with, it's no surprise that "the rest of the world" agrees with you. (The rest of the world seems, to me, to agree with me)

Anonymous said...

Agagooga, of course i know tonnes of people who did well and also have an aversion to the Army. I was from RJC, so people who do well are the norm, not the exception. Anyway this discussion has gone way off course, and I don't feel the interest nor need to continue it.

Regards,
not so bitter law student

Wind Feynman said...

I totally agree with SKH

> Most SAFOS people I know are smart, nice and capable
> people. But managing large numbers, even if not tangentially, does not equate to good private sector/ stat board performance. (I can't say about politics) This is the main gist of my argument.

The culture in the different organizations are simply too great for most SAFOS people to breach successfully. Although there is the rare example of such success, which I consider an amazing feat worthy of recognition. The objectives, incentives, management style, modus operandi...etc. are totally different. Most people have difficulty making a leap from one corporation to another as it is, SAFOS people simply have it much worse.

This is NOT due to their lack of capabilities, but simply due to habits formed from spending most of their career in a very 'unique' work environment!

Regards,
SKH
----

That's the point I am trying to make... the army didn't provide a good place for them to be developed into stats board heads, but they are often placed as stats board heads.. kind of mismatch.

But I do wonder why if they are groomed to be stat board heads, they have to go thru the SAFOS (as in, military career) way?

Anonymous said...

i think the thread would be incomplete without input from actual safos people, but i only know a few. it's hard to generalize because they're quite different people. all of the ones i know, however, are very cool guys and natural leaders (SKH and I roomed with one for a week!) - and i don't think 20 years in the army will change them into evil useless bureaucrats. at least i hope not.

as for their aims, some actually want to be military leaders and do crazy stuff like jump out of airplanes and blow shit up =) as mad as that stuff sounds to you and me, i'm glad that people like them are defending my country from terrorists when i just type stuff, so pls don't diss the SAFOS guys! *respect* the freedoms you and I enjoy are protected by force, and I happen to like the fact that capable intelligent guys like the safos bunch are the ones managing that force, and if you pay peanuts you get monkeys so I'm willing to spend that tax money to ensure we get better apes. whether its used effectively is another issue.

as for retired SAFOS guys going into senior bureaucrat positions, i think the theory (its in tim huxley's defending the lion city) is that it creates a civil-military nexus that prevents a coup detat, by coopting the top brass into the power structure. besides, i personally think that all our bureaucrats and their taxpayer funded armies of sycophants and cronies are part of the problem so it doesn't make much of a difference =)

as for the law student:
i never wanted to be a safos scholar ever except maybe in primary school when my parents thought it would be a good idea. it's not for everyone. as much as i respect the guys who take it up, they've got a totally different take on life. i wouldn't say that the guys here like SKH are bitter because they aren't army scholars - we've got plenty of friends who are and we would have had a good chance at it if we wanted to. but we don't.

what i do lament is the institution in general.

quitacet

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of you are mistaken by the SAFOS scholarship..
The SAFOS is a part of the PSC, which together with its MAP programme grooms the scholars for high level managerial positions.
Next, the SAFOS recruitment process is as such.
You do well in BMT, and qualify for OCS. You are given a tea session(aka brain wash session to depict how good life as a SAFOS is) and the following day get into OCS DELTA WING..not any other wing. Why? Delta is the scholar wing(do not link it to BMT's scholar coy(Delta))

In Delta, as a scholar wing, the standards are much higher than any of the other wings in that particular Officer Cadet Course(OCC) cohort which is Delta, Foxtrot, Sierra and Tango. Assessment is always around to grade the scholars-to-be. The PCs are SAF scholars too. Currently, PC1 is a SAFOS, PC3 is a SMS, while PC2 is a award holder.

In Service Term 1, there is the normal Section Field Camp every wing in OCS has to teach section level skills to the cadets. But at the end of it, the SFC is extended by another 2 days for Ex. Wildboar, specially catered to assess the scholars-to-be.
Under stress, fatigue(of being in the field for so long, don't compare it to BMT's field camp, it's really nothing), it is how they assess them.

Besides, these scholars-to-be are given appointment positions(Cadet Wing Commander(OC equivalent), Cadet Wing Sergeant major(CSM equivalent), Cadet Wing 2IC(Coy 2IC equivalent) and the normal platoon level appointment holders, CPC, CPS..
It is during their terms as such appointment holders(which last about 1 month) that they are also assessed..Being able to manage the entire wing since in OCS, taking up leadership is foremost..
btw, SPFOS are also in OCS together with the SAFOS scholars..SPF uses SAF's assessments to award the SPFOS
The scholars last all the way to about the 2nd week of ST2(which is abuot 12 weeks in OCS) before they get disrupted to go for their PSC pre-departure course, where they are given lessons on all sorts of stuff, seminars, political stuff
(SMS scholars do not disrupt as yet)
About 5-6 weeks later, after their PDC, the SAFOS scholars may or not join back(SPFOS no longer joins back) and go on a little more training till the Pro term starts..At this point of time, their uni will more or less be starting, hence they disrupt officially at this point of time to go study. The award ceremony simply gives them the sword, the certificate..
When they start studying, they get officially promoted to 2LT, get all their backpay, and one year into their studies, get promoted to LTA. During their styudy breaks, they do go on for military courses at overseas military institutes too) Upon coming back, depending on which formation they choose(Commandoes, Guards, Infantry, Armour, Artillery..) they will carry on their training(be it CCC, GCC) and get sent to units to do their PC, Staff, Instructor tours..In one year after coming back, they get promoted to the rank of CPT
From then on, their rate of promotion depends more on their performance. Do not think just because they think they are SAFOS scholars, they slack off..Precisely because they are SAFOS scholars, they have to proof themsevles more

However they are guaranteed a rank of LTC by the time they retire at 42. During their ending years of service, they are already on the board of directors of a few companies, and most probably have taken up an extra SAF scholarship to pursue their MBAs
And when they retire, it's up to who poaches them in :)

kureshii said...

If army sucks so much, why do people want to take up the scholarship? simple - they don't think that the army sucks. i have a SAFOS friend who's going over to commandos, for pete's sake. he seems crazy from our perspective, but he has his motivations.

as a specialist it may be rather difficult to see how life in the army can be good, but as a SAFOS scholar you're almost guaranteed a smooth rise through the ranks. this is dependent on your ability of course, but if you can get the scholarship you are probably capable enough. and you get an overseas education free of charge. it's a mixed bag of good and bad, but there are people who find the army their cup of tea. don't be sore if it isn't yours.

ranger2006 said...

Why the hell would Agagooga know anything about what SAFOS scholars feel about their PC and OC tours?

He's incredibly far removed from the loosest concept of a scholar and is rotting in a dumping ground course (ARTS!!?! Gosh!) in NUS.

Anonymous said...

Wind Feynman said of Khoo Teng Lip, "captain tour (with no companies under him)"

FYI there is no such thing as Captain tours. Cpt is a rank. Tours refer to tours of duty and for SAFOS scholars, they are rotated between command (PC, OC, CO, and so on) and staff tours.

SAFOS scholars get their CPT rank very early, all of them are CPT by the time they are doing their PC tour, hence "Companies" under him, you would mean OC tours? Since it's not unusual for a SAFOS to reach CPT rank way before OC tour, there is nothing unusual. CPT is the rank for PC to OC for SAFOS. They would do a staff tour between the two.

All SAFOS, in fact all SAF officers MAY participate in NDP, at any level from PC to OC to even as a division commander.