"Towards greater heights" – this is the simple motto that the Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) of 792nd Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (792 SIR) live by.
It has certainly served them well – the unit won its first Best NS Infantry/Guards unit award in this year's Singapore Armed Forces Best Combat Unit Competition.
"We feel a strong sense of ownership and deep commitment to National Service (NS) at every level, and we take our job seriously," said Major (MAJ) (NS) Wesley Cheong, Commanding Officer (CO) of 792 SIR. The 40-year-old is currently the Vice-Principal of Yuan Ching Secondary School.
He attributed the win to the extra effort put in by the commanders to ensure the safety and welfare of their soldiers.
"The commanders take the initiative to meet up before In-Camp Training (ICT) sessions to plan ahead as well as discuss any issues pertaining to the battalion," he said.
Open communication across the ranks is also important, said MAJ (NS) Cheong. "The commanders will also discuss any issues with their men and the men will provide feedback to the commanders, so that we can address these concerns together," he said.
The NSmen of 792 SIR recently completed their fifth ICT earlier this year. For Captain (CPT) (NS) Mohamed Jauhari Bin Mohamed Arsad, it was the most challenging one yet.
His wife had just given birth two months prior to the ICT, and the 32-year-old was torn between spending one of the nights in camp, or heading home to help his wife care for their newborn son and their ill three-year-old daughter.
After much thought, the Officer Commanding of Alpha Company, 792 SIR approached MAJ (NS) Cheong, and they came to the consensus that he should head home to help his wife in the evening after the day’s training.
"We are a stay-in unit, so it was a pretty big call for me to head home. It's important for the commanders to set an example for everyone else," explained the 32-year-old who works at the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore.
"I'm grateful to my CO and fellow commanders for their support while I took some time off to help my wife back home that particular evening."
CPT (NS) Jauhari also pointed out that support and communication in 792 SIR was what kept them close-knit and committed to the same goal throughout the past five ICT cycles.
2nd Warrant Officer (2WO) (NS) Benedict Koh echoed those sentiments. "We believe in creating a positive NS experience (for the unit)," said the 43-year-old Regimental Sergeant Major.
"We want our men to impart a positive attitude and commitment to defence to the next generation when they become fathers, and that mindset starts from having a positive NS experience," explained 2WO (NS) Koh.