So I just finished my BMT last Saturday. In the last two months, I’ve come to learn a lot more about myself and how I interact with others and I’ve come to the conclusion that I hate people in general.
Before I enlisted (or should I say, conscripted), I was actually looking forward to NS. I kept telling anyone who asked: free food, free shelter, free clothes and miscellaneous items, new friends, free training, plus an allowance. What’s not to like?
Now, after experiencing those two months, I can say that I both enjoyed and hated it. I like the activities: physical training, weapons handling, and drills. But I seriously loathed most of the people there. I know that vulgarities are a major part of the army culture, and I do use vulgarities sometimes, but some of the sergeants were just plain rude. In the end, we recruits respected the rank, but not the person. While I didn’t hate my fellow recruits, most of them were just on a different wavelength from I. Perhaps it was also partially my fault; I’m not a very social person and, after field camp, I withdrew even more.
I know I’m not a people person, so at the start of BMT, I made a little extra effort to learn my section mates’ names and talk to them. I was quite helpful and my buddy even said he had the best buddy in the world (i.e me). This growing camaraderie was not to last, however, as during field camp I went from “best buddy in the world” to “eh shut up”.
Before this, I had looked forward to and was aiming towards entering Officer Cadet School (OCS). My father had made it in and I was quite enthusiastic about following in his footsteps. The way I saw it, OCS was the stepping stone to awesomeness. The different talks by the Navy, Air Force and Army only reinforced this belief in me. When I found out about Specialist Cadet School (SCS), I felt that it was second best to OCS. Even though my superiors said otherwise, most of the subliminal messages supported my opinion. For example, the top 10% of my batch would go to OCS and the next 40% would go to SCS, leaving the last 50% to be rifle men. Does this not suggest that OCS has a higher standard? OCS also has a tougher difficulty level and longer training. There’s even something called a Crossover, where only the top cadets from SCS got the opportunity to move to OCS instead. TELL ME HOW THIS IS NOT OCS BEING BETTER THAN SCS. My personal experiences with the Sergeants (graduates of SCS) also a left bitter taste in my mouth, while interactions with the Officers only left me with nothing but respect and awe for them. To be fair, not all the Sergeants were bad. My Platoon Sergeant and Section Commanders were the nicest Sergeants my whole company and that’s saying a lot.
Much of the time spent in BMT was wasting it. There’s a saying in SAF: Rush to wait, wait to rush. I’ll be damned if this isn’t true. The Army says they’re efficient, I say my foot. If I really do make it to OCS, this is one area I will focus my energies on: making the most use of my time.
As part of graduating BMT, we all had to do a 24km route march with our field packs. I actually like walking, so this was not much of a challenge for me. I was told to be prepared to be thoroughly exhausted, but I was still up and about for the rest of the day, enjoying my afternoon playing MTG at my friend’s house in Tampines and then walking home from there (I live in Bedok South). I woke up bright and early the next day too, with nothing more than a few minor aches and abrasions. 24 click? No kick.
In the end, I came to a decision. I will find out my vocation this Friday (tomorrow). If I get into OCS, then I will put in my best efforts and perhaps sign on (because SAF will pay for my Uni education), but if I get SCS then I will do everything I can to get out of it. I do NOT want to be a Sergeant. If I don’t make it to OCS, I want to be just a small soldier and quickly finish my two years. During those two years I will do only the bare minimum for NS and put a lot more of my energy into improving my programming skills and doing small projects.