Journey of 32 clicksWhat does it take to make an infanteer? PIONEER joins the 37/18 batch of specialist cadets to learn more about their journey in earning the coveted Combat Skills Badge.
// STORY Benita Teo
// PHOTOS Chua Soon Lye & Chai Sian Liang
It's a gruelling test of mind, body and spirit.
A two-day-long navigation exercise, a 32km overnight route march which includes weapon-handling tests, a river-crossing and live firing — all this and more to prove their worth as infantrymen in the Singapore Armed Forces and wear their Combat Skills Badge with pride.
12 & 13 SEP 2018
Using maps and compasses, the cadets work together to find their way through the jungle terrain of Lower Mandai, in search of checkpoints. The navigation exercise begins in the early morning and does not end until the next day. They will put their skills to the test on 26 Sep.
"(What) really struck me is our force preparation. For instance, our compasses and pacers had to be calibrated so that we wouldn't get lost in the field. (This way) our equipment will serve us better and take us further."
3 OCT 2018
The parade square in Pasir Laba Camp is transformed into an outdoor exam hall, where the specialist cadets are tested on weapon handling — crucial skills that they must possess and pass on to future soldiers. Here, they are carrying out I.A. (immediate action) drills with the Singapore Assault Rifle 21.
3SG Joline Ow (right) assembling the M203 grenade launcher during the weapon handling tests. "What pushes me (on in the course) is how much I want the badge. It's important because as an infanteer, this is our bread and butter — combat skills and combat fitness," said the 29-year-old. "Before this, we had a lot of build-up training like 16km and 24km route marches. This was very useful to us."
Having completed their tests, the cadets carry on with their march. It is another 8km before they reach the next station — the river crossing.
Cadets helping one another to check and ensure that their floatation devices are securely fastened, in preparation for the river crossing. By this point, they had already walked about 30km.
Under the cover of darkness: A cadet crossing the river before day breaks. To do this, he pulls himself along the cable overhead that stretches from one side to the other. For some, it is at the break of dawn when they attempt the river crossing.
The home stretch: The cadets sit down for a briefing before their final station — the range shoot. The fatigue from the long night is clearly written on their faces, but they are determined to press on.
Bull's eye! To pass the final test, cadets must hit at least five out of the 10 targets from a distance of 100m. Only then can they be worthy of wearing the Combat Skills Badge.
"I feel that (this) is a test of mental resilience. So it's very important to prepare yourself mentally, even more than physically… In the future, there'll be difficult situations for me and my men. They will be looking up to me, and if I don't have the resilience to push through, they won't either. I want to be a source of motivation for them so that we can get the mission done."