New year, new recruitsJoin the first batch of BMT recruits in 2024 for their first day of National Service.
Story by Thrina Tham / Photos by Kenneth Lin
Enlistment Day – the first time recruits step into Pulau Tekong, their home for the next nine weeks. The first time they meet their National Service (NS) buddies, take an oath to defend the nation, and receive instructions as a soldier.
We join the first batch of recruits in 2024 as they begin their NS journey at the Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC).
0830H: First ferry of enlistees & families arrives at Tekong
Every NS journey begins with the walk through the Pulau Tekong Ferry Terminal. Enlistees of the 01/2024 cohort are accompanied by their families and loved ones as they enter BMTC for the first time.
The BMTC school resumed family visits on Enlistment Day in January 2022, in which parents are invited for a guided tour of the facility, after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Uniformity is key: Enlistees get a first taste of regimentation as they are instructed to tuck in their shirts before their in-processing.
The new enlistees receive their Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) 11Bs – a military identification card – and prepare to take the Oath of Allegiance.
0930H: Families tour around the island
In the meantime, family members of enlistees get on a bus and tour the various training venues around BMTC.
They visit a company line where they receive a brief on the SAF uniform as well as the field equipment and gear that their sons will be equipped with.
A BMTC instructor briefing the parents on the bunks, where their sons will be staying during their nine-week BMT course.
Families also toured the NS gallery, which houses exhibits like the first-generation uniform and mess kits.
An interactive section in the gallery also features videos and stories of NS experiences.
1030H: Taking the Oath of Allegiance
"I will preserve and protect the honour and independence of the Republic of Singapore. With my life!"
Enlistees recite the Oath of Allegiance – vowing to defend the nation – as witnessed by their parents.
1130H: Parents say their farewells over lunch
A parent getting lunch at the Pulau Tekong cookhouse, a taste of the meals his son will be served during BMT.
Parents have their "final" meal with their sons, who will only book out after a mandatory stay-in of two weeks. The time serves as an adjustment period for the boys to get used to military life.
"Take care" and "goodbye" fill the air as family members give their final wishes to their sons – many asking their boys to stay safe and do their best in their NS.
Enlistees line up at the parade square to bid goodbye and are soon led to their company line.
1300H: Equipment check
Goodbye sneakers, hello combat boots! The recruits hold up various items issued to them in their field packs and duffel bags, as checked off by their instructor.
While equipment checks used to be done at the company line, they are now done at the central store to ensure that recruits receive the correct equipment and can quickly rectify issues.
Following this, recruits return to their bunks to check the size and fit of their uniform and boots. They also get down to housekeeping, which includes making their beds and organising their living quarters.
1500H: Visiting the barbershop
As the afternoon approaches, recruits who have retained their hair pay a visit to the Pulau Tekong barbershop.
A shaved do is the only hairstyle allowed during BMT and is enforced for hygiene and training purposes.
The uniform look among the boys also signals a clear departure from their civilian lives. They are now ready to begin their BMT, which will include regular physical training, receiving their rifles for the first time and learning basic soldiering skills.
Who will the recruits call on their first night of BMT — girlfriend or mom? Find out what these newly enlisted NSFs have to say: