Saturday, January 15, 2005

...with our lives!

...and with that, I find myself in possession of a (comparatively) cheap sword engraved with my name.

After days of rehearsals, the SAF finally appoints me as a 2LT, bestowing upon me great trust and responsibility (although it only does so from the 24th of this month). Strangely enough, I don't remember any part of it at all. Everything just ran like clockwork, and before I knew it I"m walking back to my seat clutching a sword and scroll tightly to my chest with a dazed look on my face.

Walk down the stairs. Don't swing your arms. Don't clap. Once the guy in front of you marches up the stage, walk to the stairs. Halt. Walk up the steps, don't bounce. Halt again. Ok, they just called your name. Take 7 steps and halt in front of the BG. Good evening, sir. Hmm, he has grey hair. Wonder if he's retiring soon. He just handed the sword over. Stick hands out. Grip sword in left hand, curl inwards and hold tight to chest. Right hand guides sword inward so it doesn't obstruct when you swing your right hand. Extend right hand for handshake. Thank you sir. Sidestep slightly to the right, take 9 steps to the edge of the stage. Halt. walk down, halt. Walk to the first row of seats. Halt. Walk up the stairs, don't swing your hands. Reach your row, halt. Walk back to your seat. clamp your sword with your knees, lion head facing outwards. Relax.

I don't remember how loudly I greeted him or thanked him, or whether I returned his handshake firmly, or whether I remembered to smile as I walked up to him. When you're there, all you can see is the sword, gleaming gold under artificial light. It's tacky, but you can't help but be wowed by it as it is thrust into your hands. It may be cheap, but once you're back in your bunk and you draw the sword and hold it in your hands you start to feel the weight. Not too heavy to make it unwieldy, but heavy enough to serve its purpose: to remind you of the burden of command responsibility that's been pre-emptively placed on your shoulders by the G.O.H. that evening, and which will be symbolically placed on your shoulders by your parents in a weeks' time.

It's easy to be an officer. It's not easy to be a good officer. that is what really scares me now. Ask any soon-to-be-commissioned cadet if he is scared, and if he says no chances are he doesn't give a damn about being good enough for his post, for the SAF, for himself, and for the men under his charge.


84mmRR said...

Dear Sir,

we read and understand your concern and anxiety over your possible new appointment as our PC. This is a good sign, at least you are taking first steps towards remedy of a situation where people are only going to respect your rank (chain of command - no choice) instead of you.

But dun worry it's easy. we have compiled a Dummy's guide to being an infantry PC based on our experience of going thro and observing something like 20-30 PCs over our totally undistinguished 10 year military career. we think this guide would apply in some areas to other junior officer positions as well.

1. dun bring us all 'hor-lund' when you topo. If you do, apologize instead of just asking us to move faster to cover up for YOUR error without us knowing you Hor-lunded until later when our section commanders tell us over joketime. its a tough job we know.

2. dun self-garang at the expense of the platoon. we know when to wayang and if no one is watching, your garang-ness does not impress us. we are normally too tired to bother.

3. do partake in store clearing every once in awhile, you dun really have to do anything, just get your hands dirty, we are sick mean fucks whom just like to see everyone suffering together. we excuse you from pre-exercise store prep as we know you are busy planning and what nots but for post -exercise store clearing we know you really have nothing to do.

4. don't appear in front of us in PT-kit ready for canteen with your fellow PCs when we and our faces are still in the uniform (faces streaks of camo) since we are still at it washing/unloading the the store.

5. don't give us too many details, we are not interested really. all we wanna know is walk how far? attack/defense/MTC/block? and when exercise cut.

6. Clean your own weapon. if you are lazy at least dun come round checking ours and making a big fuss over some really questionable IA inducing carbon that is there in the first place because we fired while you did not. besides, we wont cock you up as we are pretty good at using SAF universal rounds (BANG! BANG! BANG!) if IA does occur, its prob due to the stupid cartridge pounch anyway.

7. Listen to the platoon sgt and or the section cmdrs when in doubt unless they are dicks too (ask us). This is VITAL to mission success if you happen to be an instructor during active time and end up as a PC of an ex-active battalion for reservist. we sorrow with you if you end up as a PC of a fighting platoon made up of ex cooks, clerks, drivers and MPs. for that we do not pretend to profess a known solution.

8. oh, and er... do PR well with the OC for when he likes you, he won't give you shit which we will end up having to carry out. Its really a fine balance here, just don't be too enthusiatic over this and volunteer (god forbid!) for all the extra TIGER/LION/PANTHER forces unless you know the full plan is to jeep mount these forces and/or would have to walk less.

9. as an addendum to point 8 above, DON'T, please HELL NO, DON'T argue with the controller if he says something is wrong or something no good. Have the kind understanding that he probably did not get nooky the night before and hence am finding other ways to assert his manhood. Its really just a question of "who has a bigger dick?". Let him win, if it makes him happy. Doing so, he may not ask you to get us to do it all over again. Samula is not in any SAF training directive and so its not recomended and it should/does not always need to happen just to prove dick magnitude.

ok sir, that will be all for now. we'll let you know when your shellscrape, coffee and maggie is ready. we might even do other things for you if you have shown us that you are really trying hard. its ok to cock up every now and then, we do understand since we did have a PC whom cock up ALL the time but he was such a blur, sincere and generally nice fellow.

Warm Regards,

Men from your future platoon

jon said...

first off, congrats on your commission.

funny yet oh-so-true post from 84mmRR.

additional tips?

1. don't power trip. it may seem ok to treat others the way your instructors in ocs have treated you... but its not. worst thing in the world to have your guys hate you because you act better than them. remember that the army is all about the private soldier (or should be, anyway) and you're there to smooth things along.

2. don't wayang in front of your superiors at the expense of your subordinates. because that's a nasty ass thing to do and people will hate you for it.

3. work on respect and seniority instead of rank. come on, an rsm ranks way above a 2lt in the fear-inducing league.

4. humility is key. there's a whole chunk of stuff ocs never taught you. if you end up as a staff officer, be prepared to forget almost all your combat training and pick up all new alien form codes (there do exist other forms apart from the 1206) and whatnot from your soon-to-ord-so-quite-guailan-clerk.

5. don't power trip... which brings us back to no.1

best of luck.

Mr Miyagi said...

Don't get bullied by the other PCs in your combat company, else you'll be leading the point platoon, the breaching platoon, the boat platoon and the company recce team for every exercise. Oh, and your commission is akin to getting a middle management post. Pretty crappy in the grand scheme of things, make sure your men know that, and most times, they'll sympathise and try to help you out. (At least, in reservist, we do).

Omni said...

I think you WILL be a good officer!! :-)

kureshii said...

*sigh* thanks for all the advice. unfortunately, 90% of the above don't apply to me, because in 2 weeks' time i'll be an MTO (refer to post), and hopefully in another few months' time i'll be wearing the air force no. 3.

incidentally, most of what you guys have said coincides with what my instructors have been telling us so far (they are sick bastards, but they are ex-PCs too). in fact, after our first turnout, they told us, "the way we treat you now is the way you should not treat your men in your unit". hey, the SAF is going LO now, so don't worry too much about the pointless PT.

of course, that quote came from the same instructor who said "if your men all look like can jia (makan) one, then go and jia, understand?" *shrug*

if you get the chance, write this down and give it to your PC. we don't often get enough advice from our subordinates.

Lance said...

as a combat unit grunt, i wholeheartedly agree with everything everyone has said so far - they are absolutely right. you'd do well to pass those tips on to the rest of your fellow officers.

Merenwen said...

Congrats on your commissioning!

BTW, I have an officer fetish too. ;p I think it's 'cause they all have dark tans and bulging muscles from the torturous OCS training.

Merenwen said...

Oh yes, and might I add that the No. 1 helps a lot in enhancing officers' macho-macho image.

Mr Miyagi said...

Merenwen! Down, girl!!

Merenwen said...

Sorry, sorry. *cows in abject misery at not being able to indulge my fetish but bows in deference to Mr. Miyagi*

Agagooga said...

As I understand it, Mr Miyagi looks quite striking in No 4 himself. :)

Scarlett Ting said...

I was pressing the comments button furiously to swoon over officers in their uniform.. going to ask why didn't you post pic of u in uniform with that oohh-ahh sword *salivating* But apparently, I aint the only one with my primal instinct seething.. I'm so slow.

And yes.. there's something about officers.. that crisp and proper uniform that makes pple wanna crease it. totally different appeal from the camo uniform... yet still.. *roarrrrrr*

then again, my previous beau sneered at the name of officer cos most of them ended up being incompetent and unworthy of the hype.. (esp he has one at home tightening the grip of his hand whenever she sees one).. but he has no idea that competent or not..

who cares?

or so i thought.

do wish that u keep that passion alive and make a difference :)

Scarlett Ting said...

Sorry... i forgot to add.. can I have a picture of Mr Miyagi in number 4? my email is..

erm, if you are shy, you can always mosaic or twirl ur face or something.


kureshii said...

IMO, if an officer sucks it's because:
1) his instructors in OCS suck
2) the cadet selection system sucks
3) he sucked before he even went into OCS.

OCS doesn't stop you from sucking, and getting into OCS isn't a guarantee against sucking. you can't have good officers without bad officers hanging around as well.

Bubblemunche said...

You people forgot about the most important thing!! A good officer must give canteen breaks!! And preferably pay for the kopi too :D!!!

kureshii said...

but a smart officer will give it only as a reward, and cover his ass while doing so.

84mmRR said...

er.... actually this concept of having the 'ability' to give canteen breaks as a reward or otherwise only applies if your responsiblities are to a bunch of NSF trainees.

so unless your permanant posting is as an instructor in some school, cherish your 'ability' to dispense canteen breaks to your men while they are still new.

but be forewarned that if you actually do that to your unit men, i.e. if you are not a full time instructor, for sure they will use this against you in future either as a joke or even to outright embarrass you.

Like it or not, the collective memory the about 30 or so of them remember more things you did to them than even you yourself can recall. And they talk to each other all the time... some even during their sleep.

kureshii said...

I'm an MTO, dude. As long as they turn up for their duty on time and with proper bearing and sign whatever they have to sign and do whatever they have to do, they can go to the canteen all they want. And if I'm free I'll go with them too.

Elwin said...

Little doubt, the dude is completely fair.
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