The term 'Power Projection' took on a new meaning for 35th Battalion, Singapore Combat Engineers (35 SCE) when they projected an image of power and discipline to their hosts, Anderson Junior College (AJC).
35 SCE started the one-week-long engagement with AJC on 14 February, when they engaged the students in the mornings with a daily physical training regime. The objective was to show the importance of physical fitness within the military organization.
To commemorate Total Defence Day, a special visit was held on the 15th of February. The visit by 35 SCE got the students to consider their role in defending the country, especially for the male population who would be enlisted in a few years. To kick off the event, a small party from 35 SCE was present at a rousing flag-raising ceremony.
The main attraction however, was in the exhibition set up by 35 SCE in the multi-purpose hall of AJC. On neatly arranged rows of tables, the servicemen set up booths showcasing their weapons, utilities, and apparel. It exhibited a full display of the new gear that the modern Singaporean soldier relies on to protect his country. Students were then free to browse through the booths at their own pace. Through the exhibition, students were introduced to the progress of the equipment of the Army and how this progress aids our defence of the nation.
Expecting perhaps a more 'rustic' kit, the students were impressed to encounter the 3rd Generation Army's comfortable yet effective gear. Some of the students awaiting enlistment marveled at the inclusion of recognizable and popular snacks in combat rations - a luxury not available to the previous generation of servicemen.
"They even have Mentos!" said one teacher, as he lifted the ration packages for a closer look. "The Army has come a long way from our days!"
In addition to the field rations, much attention was paid to the Integrated Body Armour (IBA) system that bears most of a soldier's essential items, ammunition, navigational equipment, and utilities. Students paraded around the hall wearing the vest and field pack, testing the comfort and weight of the new Full Battle Order (FBO).
Also present was a booth that featured the application of camouflage cream on the faces of some sporting students. Even with the green coloration on their faces, their smiles were universal and displayed their excitement in full.
With his green-painted face streaked with black stripes, AJC student Charles said, "It's different from what I expected - the cream stays on far longer than you'd expect."
Interacting directly with the servicemen, the students encountered up close the iconic SAR-21 rifle and its companions in battle, the Ultimax Light Machine Gun and the General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG).
"The weapons are heavy. It's not like in video games where guns look and feel so light and people run around with them with no effort," commented Malcolm, a second-year student.
Reflecting on his past experiences before enlistment, 2SG A J Timothy recounted, "It feels nostalgic being present here. Now that I've come this far in my military service, I feel deeply honoured to be here passing down my experience in the army, encouraging my juniors to rise up to their role in defending the country."
The students were visibly inspired and encouraged that their Full-time National Service would neither seem boring nor go unappreciated, and will even be accompanied by quality tools for the nation's successful defence.
With an assured smile, AJC student Ophelia said, "It's very good exposure to have been here. The technology has progressed so much. For example, the food has been packaged very well and it's much more hygienic and nutritious compared to before. I'm very confident that the boys will be taken good care of, and they will do a good job defending the country."