I realized it has been a long time since I carried on writing about becoming a Guardsmen. I was surfing some forums today and I realized that there were just a batch of ASLC graduates who were being posted there. Some of them were worried and decided to ask about the Guards Conversion Course. In fact, an analysis done on the search terms that led to my site being read yielded a significant amount of people searching about the Guards Conversion Course. I remember being one of them myself when I was newly posted in.
The Guards Conversion Course for me lasted a few weeks. I forgot if it was 5 or 6 weeks, or was it longer. I hope through this post, one can gain an idea of what is going on.
There is this myth going on that GCC is the only time you can tekan the officer when you take up appointments. This myth is partially true as not every batch of GCC comprises of officers and specialists together. Furthermore, it is very childish to think that you can finally tekan officers, because once they graduate from GCC, they become your officers and then you might be in for a hard life if they are people who bear grudges. I think it is better to treat everyone like a fellow trainee, with respect as and when needed. If you forget a sense of brotherhood with the officers, your life might be better off.
I was in the batch with officers in it. However the officers were for 3GDS whereas the specialists were trained for 1GDS. This might mean that we do not have anything to do with each other once GCC is done, but as luck would have it, my ICT PC was from that very same GCC.
GCC comprises of many things, but the main core components include the 12km Fast March in FBO where you have to walk 6km per hour as opposed to 4km per hour in a normal route march. This component is the toughest to me, and it is indeed mind over body as you endure through the pain to meet the timings.
Next is the 2km coastal swim component where one has to train swimming in the normal swimming pools first before going to the sea. It is very safe and you wear the life jackets while swimming. It is one of the best parts of the training.
Thirdly, the heli-rappeling component which some might say is the best part. It is the most exciting as you get to come down to the ground from a real life super puma helicopter, feeling the downwash of the blades in the process. It is not difficult and is quite relaxing unless you have a fear of heights. However you will soon get used to it and start to love it.
Lastly, the summary exercise. It was a hellish 5 days, but it was bearable. We were basically deprived of proper sleep, only getting some naps in between missions. At the beginning it was still quite easy, but fatigue sets in afterwards. I still remember how we had normal conventional missions as well as OOTW (Operations Other Than War) like peacekeeping missions to carry out. It was a new experience. Mistakes were made and lessons were re-learnt. At the end of the 5 days, we were very happy to return all the ammunition, and we embarked on a journey back to camp in the 5 tonners, but it was not to be.
Midway throughout the journey, after every one of us fell asleep, we were awakened and asked to alight in FBO. They forced us to carry out a new mission, that is to route march back to camp. However we did not directly return, but routed past the camp location just to clock the distance. We believed we walked an additional 16km while being half asleep. I also remember walking with my head by the fence whenever a fence was present. We were that tired. By the time we reach back into camp, our feets are sore. Some of us were so tired that they scolded the RSM unknowingly as they were just highly irritable. Thankfully our commanders were all very understanding people. One of us still fell asleep halfway throughout the parade and we heard a loud thunk on the floor.
We were very proud to get our Guards tab and khaki beret, the feeling that we earned it with our sweat made it all worthwhile. It is more of a character building experience than a tekan session. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, hearing nonsensical stories from the past soldiers.
Those 4 tasks above were compulsory for us to pass through GCC. There is another event that wasn’t “compulsory” but we had to do it anyway. That was the beach PT. After learning all the drills for beaching, we were told to put our equipment down and then thrown off the craft. We swam to shore and began this intensive tekan session that involved leopard crawling. Those who were too slow had to do it again. We had to be in push up position whilst each and every one of us had to leopard crawl below each other. It was a test of endurance as our arms are sore. Not to mention the idiotic questions that come to test your mental power in harsh times. I remember my question was “How many ‘Guards’ are there in the Guards creed”. Thankfully I guessed correctly.
The Guards Conversion Course is not a sick course. It is something that every one is able to do unless you are medically unfit. I am a very skinny person and I weigh no more than 50kg. Yet I am able to complete the training without additional help given. Everything is merely mind over body. The GCC had given me character building lessons that I cannot find elsewhere, and its values and spirit has guided me through my entire life since then. It is something to be proud of, and not something to be shunned away.
If any of you have more questions, leave me a comment and I will reply ASAP. I would only have trouble replying you if I am currently in OCS being trained. 🙂