The Guards are infantry soldiers who are proficient in helicopter operations. All Guardsmen are taught and trained to be comfortable working with helicopters. They are proficient in Terminal Air Guidance, in the setting up of landing sites as well as communicating with the pilots. To ensure that Guardsmen are able to land in any conditions, they are taught the normal emplaning and deplaning drills, all Guardsmen are able to execute hover-jump, heli-rapelling, and fast-rope down, in full battle order.
The specialised skills that Guardsmen possess are vital to the SAF as they add a new dimension to the modern battlefield. To achieve such high standards is not without blood, sweat and tears. The men are put through some of the most rigorous training. To be worthy of adorning the muchh sought-after 'Guards' shoulder tab and the Khaki beret, trainees have to go through the gruelling 'Guards Officers Conversion Course' for officers and 'Guards Specialist Conversion Course' for specialists.The men go through the 'Guards Advanced Continuation Training' (GACT) to earn their mark as Guardsmen. These conversion courses push every soldier physically and mentally to the limit and only those who qualify will be given the right to be called a 'Guardsmen'.Rappelling and RopingIn battle, Guardsmen are noted for their rapid deployment of troops. Their rapid deployment is by helicopter. Thus, an important part of their training has to do with helicopters. This entails not only rapid disembarkation techniques but also rappelling, coming down from the chopper via long ropes. A nice landing area may not always be available, and Guards units may have to rappel straight into battle zones, or onto rooftops. The Guards have to master many kinds of rappelling from cliffs and buildings. In one method, they come down a cliff head-downwards. All this business of jumping off cliffs may sound scary but the Guards are used to it such that it is second nature to them.The Early Years
Guards Emblem1 Jan 1975 marked the beginning of a new chapter in the SAF - the emergence of the 7th Singapore Infantry Brigade (7 SIB). Two months later, it moved from its original location at Headquarters Singapore 3rd Infantry Division (HQ 3 DIV) to Seletar West Camp. At that time, there were only four officers, five specialists and a few clerks. On 24 Dec 1975, the first Brigade Commander of 7 SIB, COL D R Jambu, PPA, was appointed.
A year after her inception, 7 SIB took command of the Infantry Training Depot (ITD) on 1 Jan 1976. The 7th and 8th Singapore Infantry Regiments (SIR) came under its command on 9 Feb 1976. On 1Jul 1976, 7 SIB was officially declared operational. In view of its operational role, ITD was removed and the SAF Guards Unit (SAFGU) was added to the remaining 2 battalions.
On 14 Nov 1977, the late President Benjamin Sheares presented the Inauguration Plaque to the Brigade Commander, then COL Kwan Yue Yeong, during a ceremony held at SAFGU, Portsdown Camp. This signified the official opening of 7 SIB.
Compound of 1 Guards1978
SAFGU was renamed 1st Battalion Singapore Guards (1 Guards) in 1977. A year later, 8 SIR was renamed 2nd Battalion Singapore Guards (2 Guards). 7 SIB was accorded elite status on 1 Apr 1978. The sub-units then included 1 Guards, 2 Guards, School of Commando Training, 1st and 10th Commando Battalions. 7 SIR was transferred to 3 SIB.
Guards Beret (top) and Cap Badge Backing (below)1979
On 6 Apr 1979, a special parade was held at 1 Guards with the Chief of General Staff (CGS), then MG (NS) Winston Choo, presenting the beret with the new Cap Badge Backing to 7 SIB. CGS explained that the backing was designed for the use of the Guardsmen as a symbol of elitism.
1980 - 1983
On 1 Jul 1980, the Commando sub-units were transferred out. 7 SIR was reverted to 7 SIB and renamed as 3rd Battalion Singapore Guards (3 Guards). On 31 Jul 1980, the men of 7 SIB were presented with Stable Belts,another symbol that the men deservedly earned for their excellence in training, performance, discipline, conduct and bearing. The then President Devan Nair presented 1, 2 and 3 Guards Battalion with their regimental colours on 11 Jun 1983 at Jurong Stadium.
The old Colours of SAFGU, 7 SIR and 8 SIR were retired. The presentation of the Guards Tab to the Guardsmen on 23 Jun 1989 marked another milestone towards the recognition of the Guardsmen. 9 Jun 1994 saw the Guards vocationalists honoured with the distinctive Guards Khaki Beret.
Home of the Guards1991 - 1996
On 17 Dec 1991, the 7th Brigade Training School (7 BTS) came under the command of 7 SIB. However, from Sept 1996, all Basic Military Training (BMT) were taken over by Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC), and 7 BTS was closed down. 11 Oct 1994 marked the formalisation of Guards as a formation. A parade was held at Nee Soon Camp to mark the inauguration of HQ Guards as Senior Specialist Staff Officer (SSSO) HQ with the Chief Guards Officer (CGO) at the helm.Light Strike VehicleThe LSV actually allows for different weapon configurations. It can be mounted with other weapon systems such as the 40mm Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL) or the advanced Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM).
The soldiers can now bring heavier and better firepower systems into operations. With the help of the Light Strike Vehicle , the Guardsmen are able to move faster than ever before, and with more potent firepower.
Weapon - 106 mm Recoiless Gun
Weight - 1500 kg
Max Speed - 110 km/hr
Configurations - 40mm Automatic Grenade Launcher - Advanced Anti-Tank Guided Missile - Infra-Red AdaptorEdited by eac 31 Mar `16, 11:23PM
The making of a Guardsman
Story by Sheena Tan | PIONEER
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.
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."
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."
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.
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
Making it count
Duration of the GCC
Number of turn-outs
Longest period trainees
were deprived of a bed
Distance covered by
trainees on foot
Number of push-ups
they did as punishment
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."Edited by eac 04 Apr `16, 5:03PM
this may be out of topic but my boyfriend just recently enlisted into ns and I'm aware of the fact that when they have their field camp they'll be given letters? I read somewhere that they'll only be allowed one letter per recruit and that worries me because then I wouldn't be able to send my letter because his parents will have their own letter to send, obviously. So my question is are they allowed to receive more than one and if they are, how will I know when and where to send it to?
For parents who did not receive the letter to send to their child for field camp.
You can send it to the following address in this format:
Name: REC (Enlistee's name here)
Company: (Company name here) COY
BMTC School (1,2,3 or 4), Admin Branch
21 Pulau Tekong Besar
Pulau Tekong Camp
Only one letter will be accepted per recruit.Edited by eac 12 Apr `16, 11:10PM