Hi i am a girl who just got posted into poly this year and i am considering the army path after graduation. I just want to know the life of a female in NS, like what we will be doing, what we will be trained in etc. I heard guys often went without bathing for days.. im not afraid of being dirty BUT there will be some days in the month where we will have to bathe like you know what i mean lol. So im just curious what are the differences between female and male recruits(if any?) Can anyone just give me a simple overall brief thanks
You will end up like this if you have weak willpower :
Depends if you want to be Officer or Specialist, very different path if you pick either.
Basically regardless of male/female, there are different vocations and life in the army and career prospects will be drastically different.
Eg. Technical/Intelligence/Logistics will see less out-field action and more learning, managing, running things behind the scenes.
If you want to be in a combat unit, expect no special treatment. When everyone is out 7-10 days for training or exercise, they can't bring anyone back to camp to bathe. For women who chose to be combat soldiers, they have to be prepared to be real soldiers and nothing less. Same physical fitness and everything.
As far as women privacy are concerned, there're lots of guidelines to make sure guys are kept away from female bunks and toilets. But outfield, you have to be careful yourself where to relieve yourself, nobody can really help. If u pee in the wrong place, be prepared that everyone will smile widely at you after that and share every detail of what they saw of you.
Personally for females, I think more suited for Navy/Airforce la..
This topic can be too extensive to discuss on forum. U private message me, i can discuss and share stories with you la.
As they join their male counterparts and tough it out in Basic Military Training (BMT), this bunch of recruits tells PIONEER why they chose the path less taken.
They look like your average female Junior College (JC) students. Small-framed, faces clean of make-up, hair tied up. Standing next to one another in rows of six, dressed in singlets, shorts and sports shoes. Except that instead of your typical JC physical education shirts, these ladies are wearing the Physical Training (PT) shirt - the one worn in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
Fresh out of school, they have chosen an atypical career route, challenging stereotypes and joining the military.
Their reason? These women just want to play a part in protecting their country.
Doing their part
For Recruit (REC) Joelle Cheong, signing on was simply her way of contributing to society and Singapore's security.
"Becoming a Regular is an opportunity for me to instil into NSFs (Full-time National Servicemen) a sense of pride to be able to serve our country," said the 19-year-old.
"When some NSFs enlist, they are very bitter about it as they don't see the point in doing NS (National Service). I want to be in a position to show them that what they are doing is meaningful and actually matters to the country."
While her decision was easy, the same could not be said when it came to convincing the Raffles JC alumna’s parents. Like some mothers, Mrs Cheong harboured fears that her daughter would become too manly or uncouth and be unable to find a husband.
However, after chatting with female Regulars about their concerns, REC Cheong's parents eventually accepted her choice.
"My dad was a Commando and his experience was very xiong (Hokkien for tough), so my mum was afraid of that!" she laughed.
Unlike REC Cheong's parents, REC Shaidatul Nur Ashqin Bte Ghazali's family had a very different reaction when she announced her decision to enlist.
"When my dad took me to the SAF Ferry Terminal, he was very proud and had his arms around me as though he was saying, 'I'm sending my daughter in!'" said REC Shaidatul with a smile.
In fact, the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) graduate's parents encouraged her to sign on when she was 19. However, REC Shaidatul decided to get a degree first, and studied accounting at SIM before coming back to her first love - the military.
"As a chairman of the Mountbatten Youth Executive Committee, I deal mainly with youths who are not very academically-inclined. So for me, signing on is not only giving back to the country, but also to inspire the youths," said the 25-year-old, who has been a grassroots leader for the past seven years.
Both recruits enlisted on 5 Feb, along with 31 other girls, making this the largest ever batch to enlist at any one time in the SAF.
Grit and determination
Despite knowing roughly what BMT would be like from watching shows and speaking to their male friends, some things still came as a shock to the girls. While the usual five basic exercises and regimentation were still tolerable, others, like regular water parades to prevent dehydration, were not as easy to get used to.
For REC Samantha Wun, the first few days of BMT were difficult and she even suffered from insomnia the first three nights.
"I kept telling myself, 'I can do it'," said the SIM business management graduate.
"Then the sergeants were asking us to get in line and started screaming at us to go for water parades. I'm not used to drinking 500ml of water every hour! On top of that, there's not much freedom here so it was a culture shock for me."
With a background in dragon-boating, REC Wun naturally had an upper hand compared to the other female recruits when it came to physical training. As such, activities like the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) and Standard Obstacle Course (SOC) were a breeze to her. In fact, the 26-year-old even beat her Platoon Sergeant in a pull-up challenge by doing 20 to his 17, thus earning the nickname "Muscle Woman"!
On the other hand, training has been especially strenuous for REC Cheong, who suffered from such bad muscle aches that she could barely lift her legs or climb the stairs in the early days.
"It has not been easy for me. To be able to do things like the Low Rope or even the 2.4km run, I had to tell myself, with every step, to just push forward and keep trying," she said.
When recruits are introduced to the SOC, one of the obstacles they (guys and girls alike) tend to find challenging is the Low Rope. Despite having weaker arm strength than their male counterparts, the female recruits were determined to conquer the obstacle, even if it meant doing it over and over again till they had blisters.
As REC Shaidatul put it: "As long as I haven’t reached the top, I'm not going to let my hands off this rope. It’s damn tough, but it’s worth the effort."
During the first three weeks of BMT, physical challenges were not the only things that the girls had to adjust to.
For REC Cheong, BMT was a constant struggle in battling both physical and emotional stress and still finding the strength to continue. And growing up in a close-knit family added to her stress of being away from home.
Holding back tears which threatened to fall, she said: "My parents wrote me letters and I couldn't even bear to finish reading them. I read two words of my mum's letter and I started crying so badly that I couldn't continue.
"Thank god this (getting emotional) always happens when I'm in my bunk, so I'll just cry and I'll be fine."
REC Shaidatul, on the other hand, would keep conversations with her mother over the phone short or just ask about her cats during the call to distract herself. "That's a way of diverting my attention away from the emotional stuff," she explained.
Dealing with separation
One of the most frequent complaints of every male recruit when they enlist is being unable to see their girlfriends, who then break up with them during NS. What about the female recruits?
Asked about her boyfriend's reaction to her enlisting, REC Cheong said: "He was very proud that I could do something a lot of boys find difficult, and that I was doing it voluntarily. And he really respects me for it, so that keeps me going."
Despite missing him immensely, REC Cheong felt that it was probably much easier for her in BMT than it was for her loved ones. Recruits were often busy dealing with a new environment and physical training, while their loved ones had to deal with missing them when they "looked at an empty chair or bed", she explained.
"I hope all NSFs can understand, instead of just blaming the girl and NS for 'taking away' their girlfriends. It's a two-way challenge and a test of your relationship," she added.
REC Deborah Koh felt that being away in BMT was like travelling overseas. Communication and encouragement from her boyfriend kept her spirits high.
"We try to set up ways of coping for ourselves, like texting and calling, so at least there's some contact. He's very supportive of me and tells me that he’s proud of me."
As the weeks passed, the bond among the recruits grew stronger.
That sense of camaraderie was especially apparent during physical training. Words of encouragement were exchanged and cheers were the loudest whenever it came to IPPT or SOC training.
"You can see everyone encouraging each other to do more chin-ups and pull yourself up one more time," said REC Wun.
"And it works. At the start, one of my section mates could not even manage one, but now she can do at least six! It's a vast improvement and it shows that encouragement from your section mates can really motivate you."
As the Chin-up In-Charge (IC), REC Wun also plays her part by taking time out to guide the girls on strengthening their arm muscles.
"Every night, I help them with their pull-ups and ask them to hold on for five seconds to build up their back muscles. Then I slowly lower them down. We do two sets every night and this really helps to strengthen their back muscles and arms," explained REC Wun.
For some, military commands, which are in Malay, can be a tough challenge. This is where REC Shaidatul comes in, as she is fluent in both Malay and Chinese.
"If my bunkmates are unsure of any commands, I translate them into Chinese," said the Higher-Chinese student. "I teach them to listen to the second last word, because whatever comes in front is usually just a command, the last two words are the instructions."
Of the bond among the girls, she said: "If someone doesn’t know anything, we will go and help her. We're like sisters."
My rifle is my husband
In BMT, there are several defining moments; receiving the Singapore Assault Rifle (SAR) 21 is undeniably one of them. Usually termed as a recruit's wife, the rifle becomes a "husband" in the hands of female recruits. Some of them have even named their weapons.
Jokes aside, REC Koh said she felt honoured when she received her rifle. "Sometimes people say that it can be a burden carrying the SAR-21 around, but it makes me feel like a soldier as I'm reminded of why I'm doing this and what I'm doing this for," said the National University of Singapore (NUS) psychology undergraduate.
When it came to weapons, the disparity between the male and female recruits became a little more apparent. During a lecture about the SAR-21, while most of the male recruits could answer questions about the guns, the female recruits were more hesitant when answering.
Similarly, when it came to weapon handling, the girls were slightly slower in getting the hang of it. The sergeants conducted a one-to-one session to teach them to strip and assemble the rifles.
The female recruits fared well eventually in the test by stripping the SAR-21 under 45 seconds and assembling it back under 60. In fact, they all scored about 90 marks or more (upon 100) in the technical handling test, with 40 percent clinching full marks.
Another milestone to cross in BMT is the 6km route march.
While it may seem like a small feat, compared to the 24km march that recruits have to complete for their Passing Out Parade (POP), the 6km is the first route march where the recruits get a taste of walking with a full 20kg load (which includes their field pack and SAR-21).
"At first, when we put on the field pack and rifle, we were like 'can lah, 6km should still be able to handle'. But after walking one round (about 3km), all we could think of was 'when is the rest time?'" laughed REC Wun.
Nursing aching backs and in sweat-drenched shirts, the recruits were seen giving each other shoulder massages at the first rest stop. Despite having crossed the halfway mark, their journey became tougher after the 15-minute break as fatigue weighed down upon them.
This was especially so for REC Wun, who volunteered to hold the 2m-long company flag while marching. This meant an additional 2kg on top of her 20kg load.
And if the occasional breeze was a welcome respite from the blazing sun for most recruits, it was just the opposite for REC Wun.
"When the flag blows in the wind, it becomes harder to control," explained the gutsy recruit, who felt that the flag weighed "more like 10kg".
To take their minds off the physical fatigue, the recruits even sang songs such as Counting Stars by One Republic and Home by Kit Chan, on top of the usual Army songs, in order to motivate one another.
Marching alongside the recruits, the sergeants were also a source of motivation for them.
"They kept asking us if we were ok and to drink up," said REC Shaidatul. "When you see these commanders around, you just want to be as good as what they expect of you."
One of the recruits was having problems keeping up with the rest of the platoon.
In the spirit of "No (wo)man gets left behind", REC Wun held her hand and reminded her of why she chose to be in BMT. In the end, the recruit managed to complete the route march with the help and motivation of her fellow platoon mates.
Said REC Shaidatul: "This is just not one person's journey; everyone's marching together."
Agreeing, REC Wun added: "Even if you finished first, you would not feel as good as compared to completing it together with the rest of your platoon."
We are soldiers
The recruits are lying in wait among dense jungle vegetation. Well-hidden behind trees and shrubs with camouflage paint on their faces and leaves on their helmets, they take aim with their rifles.
Their "enemies" enter the vicinity and scan the jungle with eagle-sharp eyes. It’s a matter of time before the concealed recruits are spotted. They stay still. A mere twitch and they might just give their positions away.
This scenario was part of the individual field craft lessons that the recruits have to learn before they are thrown into field camp.
Split into two groups, the recruits take turns to learn the technique of camouflaging themselves in the jungle and hiding in the best places while the others try their best to spot those hidden from a distance away.
Knowing something and actually doing it is very different, REC Cheong realised, especially when she was given only a few seconds to prone on the grimy ground.
"Because you have a time limit (to hide), you find the most spider-webby and leafy place and just lie there. And after that, you realise 'oh shit, there's something crawling up your leg'," she laughed.
A "low point" of their training was the leopard crawl, where they literally "ate" the sand on the ground. As they sprawled flat on their tummies and moved their elbows and knees as fast as possible to get across the ground, the recruits kicked up a huge brownish-yellow cloud of dust and sand.
The slower ones were left in the wake of dust and sand as the faster recruits moved ahead. Many were seen coughing and choking even after they completed the crawl.
"It's really tough," said REC Wun. "The dust hits you in the face so you can't even breathe when you’re doing the leopard crawl."
Training may be arduous, but it was precisely that which made them into soldiers, added REC Cheong. "When I do this, I see how it can be applied during war; I see why I want to be in the Army and why I want to protect my country. And it gives me the drive to keep going."
When asked if they had any expectations of what field camp would be like, the girls were unanimous in their replies - "exhausting". But they were prepared and raring to go. In the words of REC Shaidatul: "It's just five days. Make it or break it."
Ready to press on
It's only been five weeks (at time of print) and the girls are already bracing themselves for even tougher times ahead.
With more to come in the second half of their BMT, such as their first field camp, the recruits know that it is not going to be easy.
What's going to pull them through?
"My personal goal is to overcome the hardships that we all face, and to POP successfully and in glory," said REC Shaidatul. "It's not all about myself, but my bunkmates, platoon mates and the one who is marching next to me. At the end of the day, I'm not going through this alone."
For others, the "push" factor to carry on could just be something as simple as love.
"You just look across the shore (from Tekong) and you feel all these emotional ties and nostalgia," said REC Koh.
"It's because of the people back home. That’s why we're doing this and why we want to protect our country."
TS, if you sign on, stick to your decision, life can be tough esp deployment in outfield training
Can you tahan 6D/5N outfield with no bath?!?
4D/3N exercise where you have little sleep coz need to complete missions?!
Guys in NS dun care whether you are male/female when you move outfield(not talking abt the toilet part), if you show them you can lead them(offr/spec), they will respect you.
Outfield, everyone will take care of each other but dun expect special treatment, work hard n show you can take the rubbish/work load, respect will be earned...