Becoming soldiers: First field camp

Actions
https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/wcm/connect/pioneer/b238b66d-2da5-48c5-84de-2b84daf2f48a/18nov22_news1_photo8_updated.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_1QK41482LG0G10Q8NM8IUA1051-b238b66d-2da5-48c5-84de-2b84daf2f48a-oiYGHks /web/wcm/connect/pioneer/b238b66d-2da5-48c5-84de-2b84daf2f48a/18nov22_news1_photo8_updated.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_1QK41482LG0G10Q8NM8IUA1051-b238b66d-2da5-48c5-84de-2b84daf2f48a-oiYGHks /web/portal/pioneer/article/cover-article-detail/ops-and-training/2022-Q4/18nov22_news1
/web/portal/pioneer/article/cover-article-detail/ops-and-training/2022-Q4/18nov22_news1
18nov22_news1
18 Nov 2022 | OPS & TRAINING

Becoming soldiers: First field camp

It's a rite of passage that all new recruits in Basic Military Training (BMT) must go through in their journey to becoming full-fledged soldiers in the Singapore Armed Forces.

Story by Benita Teo / Photos by PIONEER photographers

Field camp takes the young soldiers away from all the comforts they are used to and gives them their first taste of living and fighting in the jungle.

PIONEER joined the recruits of Basic Military Training Centre's Leopard Company on their first field camp from 23 to 26 Apr.

1-UP-B-caption

Before the start of their four-day field camp, the recruits gather at the company line to pack their field packs. Under the supervision of their platoon sergeants, they make sure they have all their essential items packed – from tools to ready-to-eat meals to changes of uniform. [Photo above courtesy of BMTC]

1-UP-B-caption

The recruits work closely together to pitch their bashas, which involves tying a toggle rope between two trees (pictured above), laying the waterproof sheet over the line to create a tent canopy, and then securing the sheet to the ground with comms cords and wooden pegs (pictured below). 

1-UP-B-caption

Fire and Movement (pictured below) is an important aspect of the recruits' Individual Field Craft (IFC) capabilities. Working in threes, they learn how to advance towards and retreat from a target or objective, while making use of the available vegetation to conceal themselves.

They also get to practise their leadership skills as each one gets the chance to be the In-charge (IC) and lead the trio in the mission.

1-UP-B-caption

Recruit (REC) Aasish Mamidi, 18, found the IFC training to be more challenging than he expected. "Not only is it tiring, you also have to remember all the commands that you have to give while running and proning in the grass or taking cover behind the trees.

"But it's also a chance for me to exercise my leadership skills and build on my teamwork and team spirit."

1-UP-B-caption

Warfighting is not only about action and movement; at times it's necessary to quieten down and observe one's surroundings.

Here, they train their ears to locate enemy fire by paying close attention to the sound of gunshots to determine the direction of the gunfire – all this while lying prone amid the heavy forest vegetation.

1-UP-B-caption

Stealth stalker: A soldier lies in wait among the bushes. The recruits must conceal themselves carefully while listening out for enemy fire or observing their surroundings, as part of their IFC training.

1-UP-B-caption

Lunch time! The soldiers enjoy a short respite from the sun and training to tuck into some field camp staples – combat rations.

"The combat rations were surprisingly quite nice and I enjoyed them. The meals are different from cookhouse food, which is usually rice and a chicken dish. It's also very convenient to eat and won't cause a mess, compared to fresh rations," said REC Ethan Ha, 18, who was eating combat rations for the first time.

1-UP-B-caption

Ask any recruit, and they are likely to agree that shellscrape digging is one of the toughest parts of the field camp.

It's not just physically demanding, there's also the mental pressure of completing the 240cm-by-60cm hole within a two-hour window. Perfecting this skill is crucial because the shellscrape provides protection during a live firing.

REC Muhammad Hashri Bin Hassan, 23, said: "You need to be both mentally prepared and physically fit when digging your shellscrape. And because this is the fasting month, it's especially tiring for those of us who are fasting."

However, he was motivated to push through by his buddy: "I was struggling at first because the soil I was on was very dry and difficult to dig into. But then I saw that my buddy, who had the same type of soil, was making more progress than me, so I pushed myself to keep up with him."

1-UP-B-caption

After three grueling days out in the field, the recruits get a much-needed serotonin boost when they receive letters from their parents and loved ones.

1-UP-B-caption

"I was very touched to receive the letter from home. After the hardships and struggles I faced in BMT and PTP (Physical Training Phase), I was moved to know that my family is behind me even though they are not here with me.

"I was already emotional when I saw the letters, and reading the words (written by my family) just softened my heart," REC Ha (pictured above, second from right) said.

1-UP-B-caption

REC Imran Ahmad Khan (pictured above, background, centre) received an extra-large "letter" – a special storybook from his mother! "My Mum shows her love through books, that's how she's marked every one of my milestones," the 19-year-old explained with a smile.

1-UP-B-caption

Night begins to fall, but it's still not yet time for the recruits to rest. Two by two, they carry out sentry duties, patrolling the camp site to keep away "intruders".

1-UP-B-caption

The field camp culminates in the Group Battle Course (GBC), where all the soldiering skills that the recruits have learnt are put to the test.

Ahead of the GBC, Company Officer Commanding Master Warrant Officer Wee Peng Choon (pictured above, centre, standing) visits the troops to offer words of encouragement and cheer them on.

1-UP-B-caption

A recruit taking aim and firing at a target hidden behind the vegetation. During the GBC, the troops fire blanks at the targets they contact.

1-UP-B-caption

Although physically strenuous, the GBC is an important part of his journey as a soldier, said REC Aasish (pictured above). "The Group Battle Course has opened my eyes to what military life will be like and how we will be training in jungles and forests."

1-UP-B-caption

A recruit simulating throwing a grenade at a target during the GBC.

1-UP-B-caption

A recruit making a run to take cover behind a tree. With the sound of gunfire ringing through the forest, there is no time to waste!

1-UP-B-caption

REC Hashri (pictured above), who was the platoon's Safety Advocate for the day, reflected on his GBC experience: "As Battle Group IC, you have a lot of responsibilities. You have to protect your teammates, and you need to know where the 'enemy' is. Whenever the enemy moves, you have to be aware and stay on top of it.

"But I enjoyed taking on the role of IC. I learnt more about myself, which is important because in the jungle you're sometimes on your own, and you need to know how to take care of yourself."

Suggested Reading
He's set to become first African-Singaporean Guardsman
He's set to become first African-Singaporean Guardsman
PEOPLE
11-Mar-23

The first in his family to be commissioned as an officer, 2LT Haniel Humphrey Muze may soon become the first Singaporean of African descent to earn the khaki beret.

Travelling 15,000km for ICT
Travelling 15,000km for ICT
PEOPLE
28-Feb-23

Long-time NS buddies CPT (NS) Magnus Pang and CPT (NS) Christopher Kwan travelled all the way back from the US for their eighth ICT.

NS was (not) a waste of time for me
NS was (not) a waste of time for me
PEOPLE
19-Feb-23

What happens when your A-level results don't meet expectations? 3SG (NS) John Lim tell us how he coped with disappointment and made use of his time in NS to learn and grow.

NSS: Through your lenses
Cover story
NSS: Through your lenses
COMMUNITY
18-Jan-23

As we wrap up our NS55 Family Photo Challenge, take a stroll down memory lane and check out the heartwarming stories shared by NSmen and their loved ones.

A legacy of national service
Cover story
A legacy of national service
PEOPLE
19-Dec-22

Meet the Chins, a three-generation family of national servicemen.

Self-defence tips to know in Close Combat
Cover story
Self-defence tips to know in Close Combat
OPS & TRAINING
16-Dec-22

How to turn your body into a weapon: Trainers from the Centre of Excellence for Soldier Performance (CESP) show us how soldiers are taught to fight effectively with just their bare hands.

Uplifting migrant workers' lives, one photo at a time
Uplifting migrant workers' lives, one photo at a time
PEOPLE
21-Nov-22

This commando NSman started a social enterprise that provides free camera rental and training for migrant workers.

Pioneer batch of DIS specialists graduate Feature
Pioneer batch of DIS specialists graduate
PEOPLE
17-Nov-22

Among the DIS graduands is 3SG Philemon Tei, who had to cope with the loss of a loved one during training but eventually emerged as a Silver Bayonet recipient.

Jump! Actor-model takes on Commando airborne training Feature
Jump! Actor-model takes on Commando airborne training
PEOPLE
08-Nov-22

2SG (NS) Iswan Ismail thought taking part in a new reality series on SAF challenges would be pretty basic – the actor-model ended up getting a taste of the Commandos' airborne training!