Thursday, January 20, 2005

Especially for Scarlett, Stay cool and funky always. Love, Mr Miyagi

'A' Coy HQ barrack room, 46th Bn SAR, August 1990

Platoon 7 bunk life
433rd Bn SAR 'B' Coy Pl 7 barrack room, December 2004

There. No more drooling over men in No.4. You may copy the pictures and paste as wallpaper. Happy? (Gabriel will be calendar boy for February).

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.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Join the army, they said. See the world, they said... I'd rather be sailing.

From: I rock, you suck

The army recruitment department should hire me as a consultant

Recently I've noticed that there have been a lot of army recruitment posters at bus stops. Usually, the posters show one or more infantrymen in camouflage, holding their rifles and standing in vegetation with serious expressions on their faces. Those of you who are Singaporean will know what I am talking about. It's usually something along these lines.

Usually, it's accompanied by a lot of rhetorical crap about how cool being a soldier is, but that's not my point. My point is that pictures like these paint a wholly unrealistic picture of modern warfare. Let's face it, infantrymen no longer play a really pivotal role during war these days. There are only two circumstances in which infantry get sent out. The first is when your artillery, planes, ships and tanks have blown the shit out of the other country's armed forces. Then, infantry gets sent in to finish off the groaning survivors and also to pick the pockets of the dead.

Another circumstance in which infantry actually needs to be deployed is when the other country's artillery, planes, etc, has blown the shit out of your country's equipment. If I were an infantryman and I was being deployed without having been told that we've won, my knee-jerk response would definitely be "fucking what?" Seriously, no matter how good your infantry is and how hard they train, if your machines suck, you lose. And that's the fucking truth. So basically, if you've seen those posters and think that being an infantryman is all glam and shit, you're sadly deluded. Anyone who has a brain would know that signing on as an infantryman is the worst possible career choice of all.

Mistake me not. It's not that I'm not patriotic (although I'm not), and it's not that I do not respect soldiers. I respect soldiers just as much as I respect everyone else (read: not at all). It's that if you're going to ask people to sign on to potentially die for your cause, the least you could do is not insult their intelligence. Therefore, as a civil service, I have taken the time and the trouble to come up with a template for a realistic recruitment poster for the army.

Now, that's a far more attractive poster, wouldn't you say?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Good for something

I've always told my non-NS or foreign friends that the Singapore Armed Forces are good at organising stuff, and they're doing a sterling job at the moment at tsunami disaster sites in Thailand and Indonesia. Of course, if you've watched the news, so are the armed forces of the US and Australia.

The Bronco ATTC (All-Terrain Tracked Carrier) was launched by Singapore Technologies in 2000, and my Army unit's been using it for various roles, like field ambulance and support vehicle to our armoured infantry combat team, but my fellow troopers and I have always wondered about the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of a such a lumbering automobile with a thin non-armour plated skin. Now, at least, it seems to have met its purpose. This ugly thing is probably one of the few vehicles that can carry people and supplies over debris-strewn areas and damaged roads, and the Navy's RSS Persistance & RSS Endurance are carrying dozens of these to Meulaboh in Sumatra.

Onya Singapore Technologies, Republic of Singapore Air Force, Republic of Singapore Navy, Singapore Civil Defence Force, SAF Medical Corps, Singapore Combat Engineers. Don't say I never say you good.

COE drop liao, but road tax still high for these babies