Commandos bag 19th straight Best Combat Unit title1st Commando Battalion marks its 50th anniversary with its 36th Best Combat Unit win.
// Story by Koh Eng Beng
// Photos by Kenneth Lin & Chai Sian Liang
1st Commando Battalion (1 Cdo Bn) took home the Best Combat Unit title in the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF's) Best Combat Unit Competition for the 19th consecutive time.
The competition – introduced in 1969 – recognises units which excel in the areas of combat readiness, operational proficiency and administrative excellence.
Trained to operate deep within enemy territory, the SAF commandos are renowned for their high proficiency in specialised operations such as airborne, reconnaissance and raid missions.
"This win is really a validation of our efforts year on year," said Commanding Officer Major (MAJ) Tan Rui Lin. "We do not take it for granted that we'll win every year but, rather, we are always seeking to improve year after year."
A key strength of the battalion, he said, is their ability to maintain their best practices year after year, yet improve themselves at the same time.
"Whether it's to improve our current practices, or finding new and more effective ways to do things, (this ability helps us) to maintain operational readiness as well as to sharpen our edge," said the 31-year-old.
MAJ Tan stressed that the battalion focused on training well, and that the competition was secondary and merely served as a validation of their competencies. "If we win the award, it's simply a bonus."
Tough training paid off
In 1 Cdo Bn, the soldiers go through some of the most rigorous training in the Army.
"Naturally, with the training we do, I will feel quite exhausted sometimes at the end of the week," said 2nd Sergeant (2SG) Dylan James Mc Kaige, a Full-time National Serviceman (NSF).
"I can't just spend the entire weekend going out with my friends or my family, because I need that time to rest, relax and get myself ready for the next week (of training)," the 19-year-old elaborated.
Fellow NSF Corporal (CPL) Natarajan Premsekar often forgoes family and friend outings on weekends as well. But looking back, he felt that the sacrifice was worthwhile.
"Winning this award signifies that we're combat ready," said the 20-year-old detachment medic. "I feel very proud and relieved because we've been working really very hard since last year, going for many outfield missions."
For 2SG Dylan, what kept him going through the ups and downs of commando training were his detachment mates whom he had known since Basic Military Training.
They would help one another to carry loads so that all of them could finish their outfield training together, he recalled. Such shared experiences allowed them to forge a strong bond.
"I'm with them from the start to the end of my NSF journey and even throughout (Operationally Ready) NS (training later), so it's great to have this tight brotherhood," said the Assistant Company Sergeant Major.
As for CPL Natarajan, his key takeaway from his commando training was becoming more resilient.
"Even when fatigue sets in nowadays, I still do my 100 per cent. I won't give fatigue as an excuse to back away or not perform up to standard."