Happy National Day and a tribute to National Service

Happy 45th birthday Singapore. If you were born earlier, another 10 more years and you can officially retire and kope all your CPF. Anyway this year I thought I should do a little something special.

This morning I suddenly felt super emo, and hence I asked my freshie if she was proud of her boyfriend who is inside the army. I wondered if Px was proud of me too when I was inside serving the nation. It gave me much to think about, so posted this on my status:

Were you proud of me when I was in NS? That I made it to SISPEC and became a sect comd. That I went through GCC and became a Guards spec. That I went to PS course and became a PS? Were you proud of me? I should be proud of myself, shouldn’t I?

And it attracted 2 likes and 36 comments as of now. The discussion is interesting, and I shall post some of the more interesting comments inside. The comments my friends gave made my day, and then I thought I should just pay tribute to whoever I was in my National Service days, so that people will understand my job, and understand that even though I was not chosen to become an officer, being a specialist is no less glamorous and it is also a tough job.

First up, being a Guardsmen. Most people listen to the word Guards and they think of security guard. I don’t blame them because honestly I don’t know why we use the word Guards too. I mean, a similar term in the US would probably be Marines, since they are amphibious and heliborne as well.

The army is divided into several vocations, with the main ones being Infantry, Guards, Commandos, Artillery and Armour. Infantry is just normal soldiers who walk to objectives and fight. Commandos go into enemy lines to do recon work and help direct fire at enemy objectives. Artillery fire artillery rounds to places like 40km away. It looks like a safe vocation but from what I heard, radar is now powerful enough to zone in on artillery’s location a few seconds the rounds start to fly, so the enemy could also use artillery on our artillery. If that makes any sense. Armour is just moving in tanks and they provide the heavier firepower. If you watch Band of Brothers, Armour comes in after the infantry cleared the objective and pushes forward to places the infantry cannot clear.

And Guards. To put it simply, Guards are infantry soldiers. We walk to our objectives and capture them. I am not too clear about it, but it seems like we don’t stay for long. We keep moving on and on, so in a way I kind of expect us all to die. In the Singapore Army, Guards are considered to be the elite infantry. Supposedly we’re tougher than normal infantry, and our operations differ too. Instead of walking all the way, we do heli troop lift. So we take the helicopter you see on National Day just now (the Super Puma and Chinook) to near the enemy and then we walk and fight.

Due to this nature, I would kind of expect us to be in locations that is more easily accessible by helicopters than by legs. Guards are also amphibious cause we train in operations involving beaches also. Same scenario in war films, where the ship opens and the soldiers come out and get gunned down by the machine gun.

The process of becoming a Guardsmen is something that only a Guardsmen would feel proud of. At the beginning I hated the fact that I was posted to Guards, but after it all, I was never less proud of the fact that I ended up there. The Guards conversion course was the most sickest and meanest part of my entire 2 years of NS, and I survived it with people I call my brothers today. So I guess even if one doesn’t understand what Guards does, just know that we fight, and we fight hard.

No matter how many times people laugh, I repeat, we are not half fucked commandos.

Anyway the conversion course involved a 16km fast march (if i remember correctly), 2km coastal swim and heli rappelling. Yes the heli part was the most fun segment of the course. My GCC also ended up in a 5 day no sleep summary exercise that ended with us doing a sudden continual mission that made us so exhausted and pissed off, one of us scolded the RSM during the parade. It is this summary exercise that brings to the mind so many memories, memories that made me say “Yes I am proud to be a Guardsmen”.

So when your friends tell you they belong to Guards, be proud of them, because chances are they deserved it for passing out of that conversion course anyway.

The second thing to be proud of is becoming a specialists. In the past, and I dare say till now, people often have the impression that officers > specialists. Sadly it is the case till now, but it’s time to change that. In the army, the officers and specialists work well together. We have different roles and duties, and we complement each other. For the company to work well, the commanders, meaning specialists AND officers would have to respect and trust each other.

Besides, we have our own fair share of officers who don’t deserve to be one. Same goes with some specialists who totally disgrace us.

Although the officers are of a higher rank, and they get a higher pay, but our roles and responsibilities as specialists are also vital. Some of us didn’t make it to OCS because we weren’t good enough during BMT, but I dare say that there are a couple of us who could get in now that we have finished our NS. Just look around, we have specialists becoming the PS of a platoon. That means he answers only to the PC and he runs the platoon for the officer. We complement each other, and we command the same type of respect. Some of us make it even further, to become the Company Sergeant Majors. And then we can go further on to become RSM of our battalion.

But that’s not the point. The point is that in all honesty, specialists don’t get the recognition they deserve. I cannot blame people for having this misconception especially when they are not involved in the Army, but I guess it’s good to educate.

I’m a specialist, and I am who I am now because I am trained to be one. I might not be doing what an officer does, but he needs me, just like I need him.

So this National day, if your loved one is a specialist serving his NS now or as an NSman, tell him that you’re proud of him. Who cares about what rank he is at, or what vocation? As long as he is fighting alongside with us, he is one of us. Sons of Singapore.

Like how Rawdy Company puts it:
“For I know that my brother depends on me, like I depend on them.

So join me brother. For he who fights along with me this day shall be my brother.”

I guess not many will understand. I guess, its enough that I understand. This national day, I’m proud of being a Singaporean, and I am proud to say that I did my NS the best I can. I’m a Guards Platoon Sergeant commanding 26 specialists and men and proud to be one.

Here are the few comments my friends posted:

Though i wun comment on the whether going OCS or SISPEC, which is better, after so many years of talking to people from both sides. My conclusion is this :

Peeps who go OCS have the benefit of First Impressions. Whereas mud sluggers like us …do not. However not all Officers are good, just as not all Specs are good as well. But at the end of the day, everyone of us have a role to play. The machine breaks down if neither one plays its role.

A spec is not trained to do Ops planning just like how a PC is not trained to lead a section – the basic nucleus of a fighting unit. He is only trained to lead a Platoon because his planning role requires him to do so. There is a reason why every Platoon has a PS like urself πŸ™‚

Haha πŸ™‚ no offence too but when i was APS2, someone told me this that made me realise the importance of being a Spec, however lowly paid, regarded and viewed upon then (It has changed now)

A Spec (or PS if you may) can function without his …Officer. But an Officer cannot function without his Specs.

Hierarchically, a platoon needs its Officer to carry out its mission, but the officer needs his specs to make the mission possible. Its dual complimentary πŸ™‚

With pride we lead!

haha aiya dun fret abt whether or not ppl are proud of u or know what u did in ns la. us ourselves know can le. it is the process of overcoming the multiple adversities that u become the person u are tdy. i feel u will haf qualities that wi…ll be absent in someone who did not go through the same training courses or hardship. this edge in character will extend to whatever you do outside army and better prime u for success. tt imo shud b our source of pride.

den when u succeed, tell everyone you were once a spec, succeeded becos u applied part of yr trg as a spec and haf always been proud of it. lol

tt being said i do hope d old impression of us specs being expendable second tier cmdrs is slowly eroding. haha let the nation’s bday be a fitting tribute to all specialists. With pride we lead!

3 thoughts on “Happy National Day and a tribute to National Service

  1. I say!

    Alan Phua likes this post! Haha

    Happy National Day to you too!

    Maybe one day i will explain to you how our Bn functions in detail, being in HQ has revealed many juicy bits about our Ops profile that i never knew about. Haha.

    What you hear might shock you πŸ˜›

    If you ever watched “We were soldiers” you will find that our Bn functions exactly like that πŸ™‚

    With Pride we lead!

  2. I din see that post on your FB. I guess regardless of other’s opinion, the most important thing would be your self-confidence. Be proud of yourself and who you are. πŸ™‚

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