From clerk to section leader
// Story by Chia Chong Jin
// Photos by Kenneth Lin & Chia Chong Jin
3rd Sergeant (3SG) Muhammad Noorhakim Bin Rozilan shares his journey of going through Basic Military Training (BMT) (twice!) to be fighting fit.
When he received his enlistment letter in late 2017, 3SG Noorhakim was disappointed to find out he was deemed unfit for combat-fit BMT.
"I was really upset," said the 27-year old. "After confiding in my friends and family, I told myself that the least I could do during my two years of service was to attempt to become a combatant. Fortunately, I was able to achieve that."
Why did he want to "up-PES"? The full-time national serviceman, who was initially assigned Physical Employment Standard (PES) C because of an allergy, wanted to contribute more and felt that it would be a waste if he were to spend his two years in an office setting.
"I wanted to challenge myself and, to be frank, I prefer to do something that involves a physical aspect, as compared to administrative work," said 3SG Noorhakim.
"I wanted to push boundaries and go beyond my limits. Today, after many ups and downs during my time in service, I am proud to be a section commander in Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC)."
3SG Noorhakim went through two cycles of BMT – the first in May 2018, before the establishment of BMTC School V in October 2018. Then, PES C enlistees underwent four weeks of military training at Pulau Tekong before transferring to Sembawang Camp for five weeks to continue their vocational training.
After completing his first BMT, 3SG Noorhakim then continued to serve as an Admin Support Assistant in Army Medical School (AMS), Nee Soon Camp, for five months.
After many long consultations with Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Medical Officers and his own personal medical specialist about his allergy throughout the five months he was in AMS, he was given the green light to be upgraded to PES B.
3SG Noorhakim then went back to Pulau Tekong again in January 2019 to go through BMT a second time for a nine-week combat-fit military training.
He recalled: "There was definitely a lot more physical training during my second BMT and even though even it was challenging, I found it refreshing to be able to do these physical activities!"
"Deciding to challenge myself during my NS (National Service) days really made my time here more fulfilling, and that's what makes my NS journey enjoyable till this day."
3SG Noorhakim is especially thankful to his section commander, 3SG Lew Jie Wei, during his second BMT for inspiring him to become a leader.
"3SG Lew knew that I was initially from a service-fit PES status, and he told me that he saw the leadership qualities in me," said 3SG Noorhakim. It began when 3SG Lew noticed how 3SG Noorhakim would help ease his platoon mates' workload or guide them whenever he could.
"He told me that I had the potential to become a commander, and he would often encourage me to better myself in certain areas such as my leadership skills," added 3SG Noorhakim. "I would work on his advice and continue to push myself even further. That is how I eventually made it to Specialist Cadet School."
Another person who inspires 3SG Noorhakim to do better is his father - 1st Warrant Officer (1WO) Rozilan Bin Mohd Roshid, a driving tester at Kaki Bukit Camp.
"My father shared with me his experiences during his time in NS, about how they had to go for outfield exercises and training, being able to go for range, and all these exercises sounded very thrilling to me," said 3SG Noorhakim.
"These were some events I would not have been able to experience for myself if I remained as an Admin Support Assistant in AMS, and that made me wanted to upgrade my PES status.
"He always told me to excel and do the best that I can during my time in NS, and those words motivated me to become who I am today."
Even though being a section commander in BMTC is more physically and mentally demanding as compared to being an Administrative Support Assistant in AMS, 3SG Noorhakim is grateful for being able to do something meaningful within the two years of his NS.
As such, he aims to inspire and give his recruits the guidance to becoming not only better soldiers, but better people.
"With these few months I have left in the service, I hope that I will leave a positive impact to every single one of my recruits who were once under me, and that they will become soldiers who are willing to defend our nation."