In this issue of Kopitalk with Commanders, we had a chat with LTC Teo Chun Jin, Commanding Officer, Basic Military Training Centre School V (BMTC Sch V). Having spent my BMT under his care in Sch V, it was a privilege being able to gain a deeper understanding of his usual work day, listen to him share about how he came about to join the Army, as well as sneak a peek into his personal life.
Q: What is a typical day as CO, BMTC Sch V like, and what are your main roles?
I would say my daily routine involves interacting with various entities – with the higher headquarters, external units, my men, commanders, full-time national servicemen (NSFs), enlistees, and the list goes on. There is a lot of planning work involved, such as strategising training programmes, planning for sustenance of commanders, constantly thinking of ways to streamline processes.
I also walk the ground a lot to ensure that all three companies within Sch V are working well with each other and are following the training directives and lesson plans. As a CO, I also oversee the funding and ensure that the school is well supported logistically.
LTC Teo Chun Jin (left) presenting the ORD plaque and certificate to one of the soldiers.
Q: Having to take care of so many recruits, how has your experience been so far? Were there any memorable challenges faced?
It has been quite a fulfilling journey, especially when I see the recruits stand on the parade square, brimming with pride and joy, as they graduate safely batch by batch. As for challenges, it would be to ensure sustainability as we continuously receive new intakes with only about one to two weeks of break in between. We have to ensure that the new commanders learn fast enough before they can take on a batch of recruits themselves.
Q: How do you ensure the recruits eventually transform into confident, committed and competent soldiers after their time at Sch V?
It takes two hands to clap, you cannot depend solely on BMTC Sch V to achieve this. It is the entire ecosystem in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) that help make this happen. Firstly, it begins with the good training at the Specialist Cadet School that produces all the 3SGs that get posted here as our ground commanders. From there, we make an effort to ensure our recruits are able to transform into soldiers with the 3Cs: confidence, commitment and competence.
Once the ground commanders are posted here, we emphasise a lot on our unit induction programme and training qualification course, where we impart them with the knowledge on how to conduct training here. We focus a lot on that before they train our recruits. Eventually, each commander knows and believes in what we do and they then go on to influence the recruits, imparting the 3Cs to them.
LTC Teo Chun Jin (right) presenting the ORD certificate to one of the NSF officers who has extended his service for three months to help out during COVID-19.
Q: Any advice you would like to give to new enlistees coming to Sch V?
I would say - come in with an open mind. Training in the SAF is tailored to each and everyone's PES status. You may be PES C or E due to certain medical conditions, but keep in mind that service-fit soldiers can also play an important role in the SAF.
Q: What led you to join the SAF?
Actually, when I first went through BMT, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I signed a 3-year contract to try out in the Army. Along the way, I met very inspiring commanders and so at the end of the contract, I decided to join the SAF. Till today, I have been given a lot of opportunities along the way and enjoyed every moment of my tour in different roles and the various aspects of it, be it with peers or colleagues.
LTC Teo Chun Jin addressing some of the soldiers under him.
Q: What do you usually do during your free time?
I like to try all types of sports, especially, open-air sports like tennis, badminton or even golf. I also enjoy playing table games like billiard and pool. The most recent sport that I am challenging myself to is waveboarding which I find quite interesting.
I am also trying out drumming, which is something I happen to come across while bringing my kids to the community center to learn music. I got so hooked onto it that I bought myself a set of electronic drums so I can jam during my free time!
Q: Do you have any favourite hangout place?
Not really… because I am a homebody. Haha. I enjoy spending a lot of family time with my kids at home, where I make an effort to play the same games with them so we can stay connected.
Q: Any words you would like to say to your family?
I think without the support from my family, I will not be who I am here. I really want to thank my wife, who has been supporting me for the past 15 years, as well as my two lovely kids. I love them a lot!
Written by: PTE Stanley Ong (Army News)
Photography by: REC Isaac Loh (Army News), with contribution from LTC Teo Chun Jin