"National Service (NS) does indeed change a young man's character, for better or for worse." This remark came from my mentor recently. How true! To set it in context, we were having a casual discussion on the various differing personalities of NS Full-time servicemen (NSFs) and how they would spend their two years (or less) in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). We figured out NSFs range between two extremes. On one end stands a young man, in his Full Battle Order (FBO), who fully understands the need for NS and fulfils his purpose as a ‘Son of Singapore’, usually transitioning into his NSman (or re-service) liabilities with the rank of Full Lieutenant (LTA) or Second Sergeant (2SG) on his Operational Ready Date (ORD). On the other end sits a young man, in front of a computer screen wearing his No. 3 uniform, who totally misses the rationale behind NS and pursues his goal of ‘serving the nation for two years and no more’, typically avoiding his NSman liabilities altogether with the rank of Private (PTE) or Lance Corporal (LCP) on his Run Out Date (ROD).
Personally, my perspective of NS before I enlisted was not the same as that well after I have enlisted. It has, in fact, constantly changed through the different phases of my army life – namely Basic Military Training (BMT) at Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) on Pulau Tekong, Basic Section Leader Course (BSLC) and Advanced Section Leader Course (ASLC) at School of Infantry Specialists (SISPEC), and now as a BMT Commander back on Pulau Tekong. Prior to enlistment, although I was uncertain about NS, I gave an overestimation of my abilities to adapt and cope with a regimented lifestyle. Just a few days after I waved my parents farewell at the Tekong Ferry Terminal on 11 January 2008, I began to stumble in my efforts to adapt to the new life.
During my BMT, I had a difficult time adjusting to regimentation. I looked out for no one except myself, seeking to meet my own needs all the time. I was a terrible...
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