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  • Gedanken's Avatar
    8,703 posts since Jul '03
    • The making of a Guardsman

      Story by Sheena Tan | Photos by PIONEER photographers



      The khaki beret and Guards tab do not come easy, as more than 100 soldiers find out after embarking on a journey to become part of this elite group.

      In the still of the night at 1am, they seem like dead men walking. After three days of rigorous physical training with little rest, 122 soldiers are roused abruptly from their much-needed sleep, packed into 5-tonners and transported to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Ferry Terminal.

      As they march from the terminal, some hobble and some limp, their bone-weary and heavily-blistered bodies barely holding up the weight of their Full Battle Order (FBO). They are the very picture of extreme fatigue.

      Guards 101

      Just 22 days ago, 131 Guardsmen-to-be stood fresh-faced on the parade square with only one goal: to graduate from the Guards Conversion Course (GCC) and don the khaki beret and Guards tab.

      Reputed to be physically gruelling and mentally taxing, the three-week GCC trains soldiers posted to the Guards formation in technical skills such as setting up helicopter landing sites and insertion into hostile territory by heli-rappelling.

      To successfully graduate from the course, trainees are required to complete a 12km fast march in 108 minutes, a 2km coastal swim and a rappel from a helicopter.

      To test their physical and mental limits, they also undergo a Rite of Passage (ROP) phase, a series of missions and physical tasks towards the end of GCC before passing out as Guardsmen.

      Should the course prove too challenging at any time, trainees are given the option to ring a bell to signal their intention to drop out of the course.

      Course commander 1st Warrant Officer (1WO) Saravanan, who is also the Regimental Sergeant Major of 3rd Guards (3 Gds) Battalion, explained the purpose of the GCC: "As Guardsmen enter deep inside hostile terrain in combat, they have to be very strong in their fundamental soldiering skills and be able to work closely as a team. That's what we aim to develop in trainees during the GCC."

      1st Sergeant (1SG) Alvin Thomas, a 3 Gds Platoon Sergeant and Training Cohort Specialist for this GCC, elaborated: "Guardsmen are land warriors of air and sea; we have to be adept on land, and in the air and sea.

      "The heli live descent and coastal swim build trainees' confidence and test their competence to operate in the air and sea, while the fast march trains their speed and endurance on land."

      He continued: "The ROP encourages team dynamics... Trainees are grouped into new syndicates (teams of 12) just before the ROP, so they have to immediately adapt to changes and work as a team to complete the various tasks and missions."

      Always ready

      Staying true to the Guards creed, which ends with the line "Always ready, ready to strike!", the GCC comprised many twists and turns to test the readiness of the trainees.

      Turn-outs, where the instructors wake the trainees up for physical training (PT), happened when least expected.

      Trainee 3rd Sergeant (3SG) Syahrulnizam Bin Aziz recalled the experience of his first turn-out in the early stages of the GCC: "The instructors turned on the lights in our bunks at 3am and shouted 'Turn-out! Turn-out!'.

      "The banging and shouting woke us up, and we had to change into our FBO and run to East Coast Park (ECP) for beach PT."

      Flashing his usual optimistic smile, he said: "When we ran back from ECP, our energy level was very high despite our tiredness. We sang and cheered while running, and that was very memorable, because I felt that the turn-out actually bonded us closer together."

      Said 1SG Thomas: "Once, during the course, we even got trainees to report back to camp a few minutes after they had booked out, and we asked them to check their stores and equipment in camp."

      He explained: "We spring such surprises on them to ensure that they are always alert and prepared for anything. (So that) when they become Guardsmen, they will always be ready to be deployed."

      Rising above

      Despite being pushed to their limits, some trainees took pride in overcoming personal challenges during the GCC.

      At the start of the course, 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Ng Li Bing predicted that the fast march would be a major obstacle: "I'm vertically challenged; with shorter legs, doing the fast march will naturally be more difficult."

      Being the only lady in the course, she gave other stronger and taller men a run for their money, as she successfully passed the 12km fast march within 108 minutes.

      With memories of the march still fresh in her mind, she said: "The thing that kept me going was the thought that I never want to do this again, so I had to pass it well, and not have to re-take the test."

      For 3SG Elamaran s/o Ambalagan, the coastal swim was something he did not look forward to, revealing that he was not a good swimmer.

      He gave an account of his experience during the swim that took about three hours: "We swam against the current most of the time, which made us drift further away... It felt like we were never going to finish the swim, but as we sang the Liverpool song You'll never walk alone, it boosted our spirits and kept us swimming."

      Another trainee 3SG Chester Tay added: "My syndicate came up with the strategy to place the weak swimmers, including me, in the centre, and have the stronger swimmers flank the weaker ones. After completing the swim as a group, there's this sense of achievement because before this, I couldn't swim for more than 100m at a stretch."

      The heli live descent was another major obstacle for 3SG Tay, who had a fear of heights before the GCC.

      Remembering how his legs shook while standing at the edge of the tower which he had to rappel from, he found the confidence to rappel from a helicopter after progressive training.

      "It's a unique feeling to be in a helicopter for the first time! Up in the helicopter, I kept going through what I learnt about rappelling, and surprisingly, I wasn't as scared as I thought I'd be," said 3SG Tay after the heli live descent.


      Breaking point

      While the heli live descent, coastal swim and 12km fast march proved difficult for some trainees, the three tasks were merely the tip of the iceberg. Nothing quite prepared them for the ROP.

      Out in the field for three whole days with little opportunity to rest, the trainees were continuously given tasks to do, such as dragging tyres through the mud, carrying fellow trainees on their backs or carrying 140kg logs on their shoulders. All the technical skills they learnt during the GCC were put to the test as they also carried out an attack mission in a built-up area.

      "I'd expected that our commander's ROP would be tough... I was mentally prepared, but it took everything out of me physically. It's the toughest experience in my life," said trainee 3SG Harikrishnan Veerasamy.

      Even trainee 3SG Alvin Lim, who was later awarded the Best in Physical Training, found the ROP a challenging experience: "I've gone through BMT (Basic Military Training) and SCS (Specialist Cadet School), but it's only during the GCC that I experienced this kind of extreme physical exhaustion.

      "The GCC really pushes you to the point where you'll know where your limits are, what your breaking point is."

      1SG Thomas added: "Although the GCC tests the trainees' mental and physical limits, the instructors always have their safety foremost in mind, and we also train them to look out for themselves and their buddies."


      Tips on surviving the GCC


      2LT Ng:
      "Take good care of yourself and your buddies, because you only have each other to depend on. What I learnt from this GCC is this: Always stay focused, so that you don't suffer unnecessary injuries when you lose focus."

       

      3SG Syahrulnizam:
      "Think about the pride of being a Guardsman, an elite infantry soldier. Whenever you're discouraged, look to your buddies for encouragement. It's a morale booster when people encourage one another."

       

      3SG Tay:
      "Don't entertain thoughts of giving up. I didn't want to fall out because if I did, I would be looking at my course-mates getting the Guards tab and khaki beret today instead of getting it for myself. So just keep striving for your beret and Guards tab."

       

       

       

       

      Making it count

      23 days
      Duration of the GCC

      2 times
      Number of turn-outs

      96 hours
      Longest period trainees
      were deprived of a bed

      90 km

      Distance covered by
      trainees on foot

      >1,000
      Number of push-ups
      they did as punishment


      Trained Guardsmen

      There is a saying that the GCC never ends, but it did on the morning of 6 Aug at Bedok Camp. At the graduation parade, the remaining 122 trainees stood before proud family members, looking the worse for wear after the three-week ordeal, but maintaining their high spirits nonetheless.

      Chief Guards Officer Colonel Nelson Yau commended the graduands: "In the past three weeks, you have undergone the toughest training yet in your Army experience... You have displayed the confidence, fortitude and determination required of a Guards commander."

      As the khaki berets and Guards tabs were presented to the graduands, the loudest cheers came not from family members, but from the instructors. 1WO Saravanan expressed his approval for the graduating batch: "When they first came in, what we saw were individuals trying to get this GCC over and done with.

      "Today, you can see that they are a team, always looking out for one another...and we're very proud to see that in them."

      Looking back at the past three weeks, 3SG Syahrulnizam said: "This course showed me the true character of my friends, that they are willing to help and encourage one another during times of intense stress."

      He also spoke about how the course changed him: "I've grown to be more like a soldier. I'm now mentally and physically tougher. It has taught me resilience; to keep pushing on no matter what happens."

      Having demonstrated an indomitable spirit and comradeship during the trying course, these soldiers marched out of the parade square with the symbolic Guards tabs on their sleeves and khaki berets on their heads, having earned themselves the right to be called Guardsmen.

      "They told me 'You're not going to make it, man!', but I didn't believe it. If Guardsmen before me have all survived, I can too."
      - A trainee on his friends' reactions after he was posted to 3 Gds

      Edited by eac 04 Apr `16, 4:57PM
  • FappingFrenzy's Avatar
    4 posts since Jun '13
    • Just got the posting order to 1 Guards unit.

      1 Guards' buildings are older than 3 Guards' one, even though in the same camp.

      Edited by eac 27 Jul `13, 7:30PM
  • sgbanana's Avatar
    1 post since Jul '13
    • All PES A and B combat-fit personnel are eligible for Guards Conversion Course.

      However, getting an posting order to Guards units is a randomised BMT POP lucky draw.

      Edited by eac 16 Jul `13, 10:12PM
  • Dark n ground's Avatar
    3 posts since Jul '13
    • hi guys!!! im a 18 year old student studying in poly under the JPSDS sponsorship for CDO vocation. so basically after my poly, i go serve alr. cant wait :) but i kinda wanna know a few things. how long will my bmt at pasir ris camp will be? how long is the in house specialist course for cdo's. how long is the entire cdo course?(how long to get red beret) im also worried about the pay as a regular (ppl keep say sign on not good). can i know an estimate for the specialist pay in the cdo? thanks guys :D 

  • Moderator
    eac's Avatar
    4,034 posts since Dec '03
  • Dark n ground's Avatar
    3 posts since Jul '13

    • Army Recruitment Centre
      3 Depot Road #01-66
      Singapore 109680

      HOTLINE

      1800 - OUR ARMY (687 2769)

      PARKING

      Public Carpark directly opposite Depot Road

      MRT

      Queenstown MRT Station
      Redhill MRT Station

      BUSES

      57, 145, 175, 195, 272, 273, 408

       

      Edited by eac 27 Jul `13, 7:30PM
  • Moderator
    eac's Avatar
    4,034 posts since Dec '03
    •  

       

      Some things can say briefly, some things cannot say too specific.

      If don't know, please call the 24/7 NS hotline at 1800-3676767 to speak to a customer service officer.

      Edited by eac 27 Jul `13, 7:29PM
  • Dark n ground's Avatar
    3 posts since Jul '13
  • Morgylicious18's Avatar
    1 post since Aug '13
  • Demon Bane's Avatar
    3,228 posts since Dec '10
    • My friend's son going into army commando unit soon....wish him good luck!

      Edited by Demon Bane 15 Aug `13, 11:50AM
  • Hazemheather87's Avatar
    13 posts since Aug '13
  • DieppeRyo's Avatar
    3 posts since Jun '09
    • Please call the 24/7 NS hotline at 1800-3676767 to check with a customer service officer.

      Edited by eac 05 Nov `13, 8:26PM
    • Originally posted by johnlee215:

      This evening I got a call from CMPB double confirming that I'll go Tekong BMT on 14 Feb 2013 as I didn't make the cut for CDO due to the attitude/ spirit needed to be a CDO...

       

      where got such thing as attitude?before bmt went hendon for VA, ask me do push up pull up..i everything just do almost kosong as i am not fit and not interested at all plus i am still at my last semester in studies..after awhile when finished studies, i receive a letter ask me go tekong so i think hendon gave up on me already.hahaha

      after tekong bmt and waiting for posting..by time of POP i can pass my SOC and min of ippt silver,i checked the miw website and got posted to guards instead.this was more than 10 years++ back..

      still get sh*t either way whether you are at cdo or gds.

       

  • Gedanken's Avatar
    8,703 posts since Jul '03
  • Controlyourmind's Avatar
    5 posts since Sep '13
    • Yo commando 2014 Jan / feb intake. 

      1) anybody receive enlist letter already?

      2) ptp batch also will receive letter the same date as enhance batch?

      Edited by Controlyourmind 26 Sep `13, 11:28AM
    • Refer:

      1. http://www.ns.sg/nsp/web/esvcs/mindef/nsreg/enq-enlist-status

      2. http://iprep.ns.sg/enlistment-schedule.html

      3. http://iprep.ns.sg/notices-and-timeline.html


      4. Call 24/7 toll-free NS hotline at 1800-3676767 to speak to a customer service officer.



      You will receive notices from the Central Manpower Base (CMPB) at different times before enlistment.

      There are 2 important notices you'll receive from CMPB, these are listed below:

          Registration notice: you'll get this notice when you reach 17½ years old. It will inform you to do your NS registration.
          Enlistment notice: this notice will be sent to you about 2 months before the Date of Enlistment (DOE).

      Edited by eac 11 Oct `13, 12:41PM
    • Refer:

      1. http://www.ns.sg/nsp/web/esvcs/mindef/nsreg/enq-enlist-status

      2. http://iprep.ns.sg/enlistment-schedule.html

      3. http://iprep.ns.sg/notices-and-timeline.html


      4. Call 24/7 toll-free NS hotline at 1800-3676767 to speak to a customer service officer.



      You will receive notices from the Central Manpower Base (CMPB) at different times before enlistment.

      There are 2 important notices you'll receive from CMPB, these are listed below:

          Registration notice: you'll get this notice when you reach 17½ years old. It will inform you to do your NS registration.
          Enlistment notice: this notice will be sent to you about 2 months before the Date of Enlistment (DOE).

      Edited by eac 11 Oct `13, 12:41PM
  • Moderator
    eac's Avatar
    4,034 posts since Dec '03
    • Please call the 24/7 NS hotline at 1800-3676767 to check with a customer service officer.

  • Controlyourmind's Avatar
    5 posts since Sep '13
    • Refer:

      1. http://www.ns.sg/nsp/web/esvcs/mindef/nsreg/enq-enlist-status

      2. http://iprep.ns.sg/enlistment-schedule.html

      3. http://iprep.ns.sg/notices-and-timeline.html

      4. Call 24/7 toll-free NS hotline at 1800-3676767 to speak to a customer service officer.


      You will receive notices from the Central Manpower Base (CMPB) at different times before enlistment.

      There are 2 important notices you'll receive from CMPB, these are listed below:

          Registration notice: you'll get this notice when you reach 17½ years old. It will inform you to do your NS registration.
          Enlistment notice: this notice will be sent to you about 2 months before the Date of Enlistment (DOE).

      Edited by eac 16 Oct `13, 9:52AM
  • ggwp's Avatar
    4 posts since Oct '13
    • yo someone pls enlighten me. I got letter for commando for feb 2014, but my eyesight is like close to 300 how the heck did I get in, and I know commando got skydiving, how would I cope with my shitty eyesight?

  • Moderator
    eac's Avatar
    4,034 posts since Dec '03
    • Please call the 24/7 NS hotline at 1800-3676767 to check with a customer service officer.

      See if can request for transfer to do BMT at BMTC on Pulau Tekong or not.

      Can put up a request to CMPB by the customer service officer, but not guarantee.

      Edited by eac 29 Oct `13, 8:14PM
  • ggwp's Avatar
    4 posts since Oct '13
  • Controlyourmind's Avatar
    5 posts since Sep '13
  • ggwp's Avatar
    4 posts since Oct '13
    • Posted: 26 Oct 2013, 1000 hours (GMT +8)

      Response to The Straits Times Article on "SAF Soldiers' IPPT Likely to Change"

      MINDEF: CSNS will not be reviewing specifics of the IPPT

      The Straits Times' article "SAF Soldiers' IPPT Likely to Change" (dated 23 Oct 2013) was speculative and misleading. The Committee to Strengthen National Service will not be reviewing specifics of the IPPT, which is an SAF matter as it deals with the combat fitness of our soldiers. The SAF does review its training programs periodically, including those for combat fitness but has not decided on any changes to the IPPT format.

      Colonel Kenneth Liow
      Director Public Affairs
      Ministry of Defence

      MINDEF's reply was published as "NS panel not reviewing IPPT specifics", The Straits Times, 26 Oct 2013

      Edited by eac 05 Nov `13, 8:18PM
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