It seems like just a few weeks ago I blogged about ORD. And now suddenly it is already well into reservist. That was how it was then also. We ORD and then had 2 years of lull period where I truly enjoyed myself, forgot about such the army and suddenly it is back to back reservist.
ICT 2 and 3 were back to back low key reservist. Very much like the first in camp, it concentrated much on group, section and platoon tactics. I kinda like the war gamings and outfields. And also it was only 5 days so it was ok. Not that long.
What I didn’t like was getting back to doing night missions and the long walks. It is harder now that you are less fit. I remember sweating at night, in the middle of a dark forest, uniform drenched in sweat. Super sleepy. It was miserable. Your body heating up due to the physical strain but yet freezing in cold due to the drenched uniform. Body also confuse. So was I feeling hot or cold? Yes I remember that. It was miserable. And oh I can remember the smell of the forest at night. Until today, every time I ride my bike at night and smell the scent of the forest, I will be reminded of the long miserable night walks.
Also, I was sleepy most of the time. I am already a heavy sleeper, reservist made me sleep deprived. I remember I was so pissed off when I could only go to sleep at 2am and had to wake up at 4am. What nonsense was that? What happened to 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep before strenuous activity? Nope. Never happened. It was just work after work after work. I was so so pissed off. I can still feel the anger today and especially now when I remember those moments.
I don’t know if you remember I mentioned in a post some time before this. Basically almost everyone in my active NS unit were posted to the same reservist unit. But there were some colleagues who were army regulars and had to move on to their own vocations after NS. Thus we had a number of missing personnels. My platoon commander was a regular, so was my platoon sergeant. So they didn’t join us for reservists. Section 1 Sergeant Collin was a regular too. Section 2 Sergeant Fardlie signed on to the police force. Sergeant Chris from Section 3 deferred for some overseas studies. Their respective section 2 ICs had to take up their roles during these 2 ICT. On paper, I was supposed to take up the platoon sergeant role but since we were missing our PC, I had to go all the way covering the PC role. These roles were supposed to be filled up by “top up” soldiers from other units but they haven’t arrived yet. Most probably due to administrative reasons. So yeah, most of us had to do a lot of tasks since we had to cover roles for missing personnels. So yup. Slept at 2, woke up at 4.
Remember the condescending trainers? Yup. During one of the missions, I snapped and it felt good. They were barking and making noise and were not tactical at all. The “enemies” spotted us approaching because they were not being tactical while we tried hard to be as soldierly as possible. And they also follow the book while we were already comfortable in our own way of doing things which as long we didn’t jeopardise the mission or our safety.
I remember we were suppose to form up at a “Form Up Place” (FUP) just before we assault the enemy objective. On paper, we were supposed to “dump” or leave of field packs there and go into firefight without it so that we can run and move faster. Upon completion of the attack, we will then go back to our FUP to collect our field packs. But there were a lot of times during active NS where we didn’t dump our field packs because the objective wasn’t far away or wasn’t in a huge place. And also, we had a lot of important stuffs in our field pack that we can use during the assault. And also it was trouble some to dump them and then collect them later. Therefore we were quite apt to conduct our firefight with our field packs on.
The attack started and I led my platoon into the firefight. We didn’t dump our field packs. It was an easy fight anyway and we were used to it. The trainer shouted at me saying, “Commander! Why didn’t you dump your fieldpacks?” on their condescending manner as if they went through world war 2 or some shit. I shouted back at him, “We can still fight with our bags on! And who is going to collect our bags later? You?! Shut up and catch up!” I then continued running up the objective. I saw his stunned look. It felt good. Really ah… some of these army regular trainers ah… they want to step regimental and all knowledgable and as if they went through some world war, but they actually really cannot make it one. If you all read and remember what my SISPEC PC Warrant Sim said. He was right.
So ICT 2 and 3 ended. We still didn’t have top up personnels. The section 2 ICs were then sent to SISPEC to do their section leader course and come back to our unit to become sergeants. Damn. Having to go SISPEC during reservist really sucks man. But that’s how it is. I got eyeballed too. They wanted to send me to 4 weeks platoon sergeant course. I said no. Never going to happen. If you are going to send me to some course during reservist, I am going to defer till I am 40. No way am I coming and make me sleep at 2am and wake up at 4am. No way. It’s too much. I told them that. Send me to course, I will defer and you won’t see me again.
And that’s what I did. I didn’t attend ICT 4 and 5. I deferred. Even though ICT 2 and 3 were low key and only 5 days, I am not going to go through it until the admin sort their shit out. So I deferred for 2 years. 2007 ICT 4, I was involved in Gentarasa. 2008 ICT 5, I was involved in Kallang Roar shoot. It was really whatever lah. You made me sleep 2hrs a night, we had to cover for missing personnels, we had to deal with rude trainers, so nope… I’m not coming back till you sort it out.
Next week : ICT 6 ATEC 1
Categories : The Army Series
Ok so here we go. First In-Camp training (ICT) or simply called, “reservists”. Contextually incorrect but Singapore got a lot of things like this. Incorrect use of words that are so commonly used that it has become normal and then becomes “correct”.
Sometimes people ask me, “reservist do what?” So this is a good post. It’s good for me to remember too.
I ORD on the 12th of December 2002. We didn’t have our first reservist call up for a number of years. I cannot remember already. I think it was maybe in 2004 or 2005. It was just for 5 days.
So basically you will have to go for 10 cycles of reservist duties. 1 cycle is a maximum of 40 days. So these 40 days can be spread out within one work year. If you are lucky, you can have just 3 days in one work year and one cycle is done.
5 days and below will be considered “Low Key”.
6 days to 40 days will be a “High Key.
You will need to do at least 7 “High Key”s and 3 “Low Keys” to complete your NS requirement.
So our first reservist was only 5 days thus it was a “Low Key” ICT. It was at this camp called Tanjong Gul Camp somewhere in Tuas.
The travelling there was a dread. Public transport will all your equipment; field pack, duffel bag, SBO, helmet from Boon Lay interchange to Tanjong Gul. I have never been there on my own and we didn’t have smartphones then. So it was the good old streetdirectory and bus guide book. Anyway, once we reached Boon Lay, we would see familiar faces, so just follow the crowd. Oh yes, I remember the dread. 2 years of freedom and it is NS all over again.
We checked into this old camp. I have been pampered with new camp complexes during my full time NS days so this one was quite, uurrgh.. but ok la. Cannot be choosy. As long can sleep comfortably, I am good. The toilets were old and of course no faucets. Just like in many parts of Singapore. So it’s like that. Shit in a cubicle, wash at the shower.Can never feel clean with just toilet paper.
So what did we do during these 5 days? Well, back to NS days. The exact same thing. So if you think ORD means you’re done with NS, you’re wrong. Reservist means, you will go back to doing the same thing. Only worse, you’re less fit. We wake up to normal 5BX, run around the camp before going for breakfast. Same old NS cookhouse and food. Basically everything is the same again. For these 5 days, we went through refreshers and revisions of our army stuff. Our weapons, technical handling and section level firefight drills. The objective is to be ready for ATEC 1 on the 5th ICT and ATEC 2 on the 7th. The only difference this time is, we had trainers. The camp is called Infantry Training Institute (ITI). They have trainers who are full time SAF soldiers posted there to be trainers to these reservist old men. I don’t mind them refreshing us on the things that we might forget like technical handling and theories. But for them to emphasise on firefight SOP when we had our own style, I think is a bit weird. We had our tested and proven ways of doing things while they stick to textbooks. Well, it’s Singapore and they are trainers, I understand that they have to have a standard for them to mark their markings and KPI. But I just find it awkward, especially when most of them were very arrogant and condescending. One day, we were definitely going to burst. I know my unit. We were stubborn and fierce soldiers. I just knew one day we were going to burst out at these trainers. But it was the first ICT so, we gave chance. Heh.
The 5 days felt very long. I just wanted to get it over and done with fast. I didn’t enjoy the rude treatment by the trainers and definitely the morning reveille.
Friday finally came and we said our goodbyes. Everyone was happy. I kept hearing this, “See you next year!”. I still couldn’t accept the fact that NS wasn’t over yet but ok lah, at least 1 reservist down and 9 to go.
Next Week : ICT 2 and 3
Categories : The Army Series
Yes yes. You’ve completed your full time NS. You still have to serve for another 10 cycles. Not only that, you still have to pass your Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) every year. Every year. No escape. So how does this work?
I think this topic of IPPT is a good thing to blog about because it changes through the years. Good to know how it was like.
IPPT had 5 stations. Just like how it was during active NS days. No difference.
Standing Broad Jump
Complete all stations and check out your score. Here is the score chart.
So you have to at least pass the IPPT within your “window period” which is from your birthdate this year to your birthdate the following year. So let’s say my birthday is 1st February 2003, I have to pass my IPPT before 31st January 2004. Simple right? Just pass before your next birthday. Ideal situation, birthdate 1st February 2003, take the test and pass it on the 2nd of February 2003 and your window is cleared. Your next IPPT test window starts 2nd February 2004.
Well, not everyone is fit. Including myself. I need to train before I can pass and I am usually lazy or have no time. So what happens if you don’t attempt an IPPT during the window? You get charged. Go up to CMPB in full uniform, face the officer in charge and wait your punishment. You can be fined a certain amount of money or if you are a repeat offender, you might just be imprisoned at the Detention Barracks. Damn… so serious.
But if you pass, you will be rewarded.
$400 for gold
$200 for silver
$100 for bronze
What if you attempted but still cannot pass? You will have to attend Remedial Training the following year for the IPPT that you failed this year.
So this was what I did.
Window 1 : Attempt and fail
Window 2 : Go for RT and pass.
Window 3 : Attempt and fail
Window 4 : Go for RT and pass.
So basically I need to train during RT and then only I could pass.
Back then you had to book for your RT and they were on fixed dates. You cannot change the dates. If you already booked them, you will have to attend.
RT had 2 phases.
8 Sessions 2 times a week. You will take your IPPT on the 8th session. If you pass then good for you, window cleared. If you fail, go to Phase 2.
12 Sessions 3 times a week. You will take your IPPT on the 6th session. If you fail, you continue your training till the 12th session. If you still fail on the 12th session, your window for the year is still cleared.
Best thing about RT is that, you get paid when you attend the sessions. I think I got paid about $20 per session so it wasn’t that bad. It was just the time that is troublesome. If I can remember correctly, the sessions were at 6pm to 9pm on weekdays and 8am to 11am on weekends.
There were also 3 places that you can go for RT. Maju Camp, Khatib Camp and Bedok Camp. I tried them all. Maju Camp was the most relaxed, but it also means it’s harder to pass by phase 1. Bedok Camp was the toughest. I passed my IPPT at the end of session 1.
I had no problems with my chin ups, sit ups, standing broad jump and shuttle run. I always get 5 points for all of them which is the maximum points. But I cannot pass my 2.4km and you have to pass all stations to pass the IPPT. So every time I go for RT, I will tell them that I need to train more on my running and they will put me in the running group.
Then there was also the IPT thing which I cannot remember what it stands for. If you choose not to go RT, you can go IPT. I think it was a 20 session thing. I cannot remember what was the benefit of going IPT. I think it was a programme where you know that you cannot pass even after training. So you go for this programme where you will be tested on the first day, mark your record and then train for 20 sessions. By the end of 20 sessions, you take another test and see if you have improved. If you did, then you pass the window. If you don’t then you have to still attend RT. And also you don’t get paid going for IPT. So I don’t see the point. I tried once. Just once. So ok there was some improvement and I passed. But the next years after that, I went back to doing RT.
THE NEW IPPT
And then on my final year of NS, they changed the IPPT system to the new one where there are only 3 stations. Push ups, sit ups and 2.4km run. Basket. Suddenly after all the years of suffering in RT, you changed to an easier system.
Here is the chart.
So I just had to spam my push ups and sit ups which I can train at home and then jog for my 2.4km and get at least 1 point and I pass.
Oh well, life is not fair but it is like that.
Next Week : First In Camp Training
Categories : The Army Series
And.......... you thought that after ORD, you will be done with the army. But no........
Well, maybe you will feel a bit sad if this blog series comes to an end. Eventually it will but not for now. So if you are happy that this series still has some life in it, do give it a like. Hahaha.
WHAT HAPPENED AFTER ORD?
Well, I think it was a few years of nothingness.... about 2 years maybe. We, or at least me, happily forgot about NS. There was one day when we were called up to attend a briefing at Dieppe Barracks. It was just a few hours. We were briefed on what to expect after NS, about reservists and In-Camp Training, about IPPT that we still have to clear every year, about the unit we will be posted to, about our mobilisation exercises, etc.
So for my reservist duties, I was posted to a reservist unit, 662 Battalion Singapore Guards. About 3/4 of us from 3rd Guards were posted there, so basically it was still the same people. The other 1/4 were those who were army regulars or went overseas or I don't know how they managed to escape the unit. So the army then posted some guys from other units to ours to fill up the 1/4. This slowly became more as the years passed as quite a number from the 3/4 somehow dropped out or downgraded or just disappeared.
We were then told that we have to:
1) pass our IPPT every year.
2) report for mobilisation whenever required
3) report for 10 cycles of In Camp Training (ICT) or colloquially called "Reservists" or "Reservist Duties"
We will then have our ATEC again for reservists on the 5th and 7th cycle.
So today I am going to share about mobilisation exercises. I am sure you would know that this happen quite a common thing. Once in a while we will see that blinking army icon on TV and announcement on radio and the code words and the call that you have to report to mobilisation centres. So yes. It is those kind of things.
But it doesn't happen like that all the time. Sometimes there will be a "silent mobilisation" where we will be called up by phone calls from the HQ. Those that you see on TV is called the "open mobilisation" where we would be called by phone and also having to see and hear those call up alerts on TV and Radio.
We also have our own unique code words but I cannot share it with you here. Actually, I forgot them already too.
Anyway, the mobilisations are not something that happen like a surprise. Every year, we would be told of our standby periods, like from this month to this month. Say like, we would be told that our unit has to be on standby from 1st September to 21st September 2006. We can then be called up during this period. But not necessarily will we be called up every year. We just have to be on standby and have our army stuff ready at home.
I think if I remember correctly, I was only mobilised three times during the reservist days.
The first one was a silent mobilisation. We got called up and have to report at the mobilisation centre within 8 hours I think. At that time it was at Northview Secondary in Yishun. We just had to go over, wait for half of our people to reach, check our field packs have all the standby items, sign the attendance sheet and that was it, we could leave already.
The second one was sometime in 2008. I was having a post Kallang Roar shoot activity. We were playing futsal at the cage in Kallang. Then sometime around 6pm or 7pm, we received a silent mobilisation call and had to report to Maju Camp within 8 hours. So I continued playing and then went home and went to Maju Camp.
This time around, we had to sit at the multi storey carpark and wait. Just waited. We didn't know how long we had to wait. We just sat there. We even had to draw our weapons. We felt quite shitty already then. If ever we were told to draw blank rounds for that mobilisation, we definitely have to go outfield for some kind of war gaming exercises. We really hoped it won't happen.
So we sat at the carpark and slept and woke up and chatted and slept and just waited. Some time around 8am the next day, we were told we could return our weapons and leave. Nice! No outfield.
The final one was in 2016. It was during the show day of a theatre production at ACJC. We had a matinee 2pm show and an evening 730pm show. I reported to Maju camp after the matinee show. Luckily it wasn't very far from ACJC. I was just hoping I didn't have to stay overnight like the previous mobilisation.
Upon reaching Maju Camp, I already saw people leaving. That's great. I met up with some of my friends there before registering our attendance. We were then told to draw our rifles. We were also then given a slip of paper with checkboxes. Apparently we had to go to all the stations placed at different places in the camp. We didn't have to go in a particular order. Just go to the stations and complete the tasks at the station. The tasks were quite simple like strip weapon, assemble weapon, IA drills and some thing else that I cannot remember now. Once we completed a station, the checkbox on our paper will be stamped and we can move on to another station. Once we completed all stations, we could then leave the camp. It was quite fun actually. Most of us compared it to funfairs. One friend laughed and said, "Welcome to Uncle Ringo!" I will always remember that mobilisation exercise as Uncle Ringo. I managed to complete all stations and got back to ACJC for the evening show.
Ok yup that is pretty much it for mobilisations. It was quite simple and straightforward. The hassle was to make sure the items that we have to bring once mobilised are always properly maintained. Basically we had to always have all the required items in our SBO and field pack like torchlights, batteries, uniforms, toiletries etc. Different units will arrange them differently but in general it is pretty much the same.
Ok that's all for mobilisation.
Next week : Reservists IPPT IPT RT
Categories : The Army Series
So here it is. I am almost at the end of the road.
For those of you who have been reading my army series post, I thank you. I started blogging the army series back in 2020. The early days of covid and circuit breaker when I was pretty much jobless as a non-essential artist. It was a very difficult period of time. The blog was meant to be consistent. Like maybe one post a week. But low traffic, low readership added to the downward spiral of motivation especially with the bloody covid making life difficult. I still posted whenever I had the slight motivation to. Most of it was because I want to document these experiences before my memory fails and also hoping that it can be a source of reference with the ever changing army system and lifestyle. Honestly I still think that it just keeps getting easier over the years. If you don’t think so, then it’s your point of view. I have mine, you have yours. We don’t share the same bunk.
So it has been more than 3 years of this series. You have read. The first post on enlistment and now the post on ORD. 3 years is actually longer than NS itself which was 2 and half years then. Not like 2 years now.
So here we are. The road to ORD. Back to civilisation. Back to being a civilian. Back to life.
I think I have mentioned somewhere before that people usually clear their leave before they ORD. Not including weekends, clearing leave can actually stretch to about 2 months. But I am still very salty about this. My unit didn’t give us much opportunities to clear leave. On the day I ORD, I still had like around 14 days of leave and 10 days off, thereabouts, uncleared. Burnt. It’s not fair. I hate it. That’s one of the sucky thing about my NS life that I will never forget.
If you see the last post where we were in Australia, there is a time stamp at the photo that showed the date. 21st of November 2002 was the date we left Australia and was heading back to Singapore. My ORD date is 12th December 2002. That is less than a month away. 24 days of leave not including Sundays means that I could clear my leave starting the 12th of November. But no. I was still in Australia.
And then we reached home. And guess what? We had to take turns to clear or leave. At least 2 sergeants per platoon have to be in camp while the others clear their leave. Not to mention we still had to do Company duties and Guard duties. I managed to clear some days off and leave and yet I still had 14 days leave and 10 days off. Can you imagine how much time we spent for the army during that 2.5 years depriving us from our entitled leaves and off. I’m sure it won’t be the case now. I’m sure nowadays people will be kicking up a fuss. I really wish I could. But it’s all in the past now.
And then, guess what again…. We had an ORD parade! Wow, so fun. So good to be recognised. So good to be properly sent off. But but but….. a parade means, you have to go through rehearsals. Days and days of ORD parade rehearsals meaning even more days where we couldn’t clear our leave. I am sighing as I typed this. It was really a test of patience.
And guess what again and again? Because some of us were required to stay in camp while others took leave, some were tasked to do duties as mentioned above, some others actually have nothing to do. We just slacked in the bunk. Yes. In camp but nothing to do. So, we were attached to some places just so we will not slack. I remember I was attached to NCC camp at Amoy Quee for a few days just because I didn’t have anything to do. It was me and someone else. I thought it was Nurizam. But when he visited me at home when I was sick, he said it wasn’t him. So obviously I cannot remember much about the attachment. Most probably I was pissed off that I couldn’t clear my leave and went on auto pilot mode throughout that period.
Anyway, the ORD parade happened. I cannot remember when but it was a few days before the actual ORD date. The parade was in the evening and at the end of the parade, we left the bunk and camp for good. From that day, everyone could leave the camp and clear whatever leave there was left. No one was needed to come back to camp. No more duties. I remember I left happily. Finally leaving everything behind. I am back home.
13th June 2000. I enlisted. Pulau Tekong.
12th December 2002. Exactly 2.5 years. I walked back alone to Bedok Camp. It was in the afternoon. Maybe about 2pm. I head to HQ company. Looked for the staff in charge. Looked for my name in the list. Found my name, struck it off the list, and he handed me my pink IC. A simple card that I haven’t seen for 2 and a half years.
Placed my card in my wallet, walked out of Bedok camp in the afternoon east coast heat.
ORD oh!! No more NS! Thank you everyone for reading this series from the beginning. From the post on enlistment, to the post where I ORD. It has been a long 3 years. Just like how it was a long 2.5 years in NS. I hope you have enjoyed this series as much as I have enjoyed reminiscing and documenting. Look through the table of contents to read them again or to check out posts that you might have missed.
One more time….. ORD OH!!!! No more NS!! Goodbye Cruel World!!!
Eh wait. What does ORD mean? It means, Operationally Ready Date. Meaning, before this date, we are technically still in training. Meaning, from this date onwards, we would be ready for any given operation in real life situations. Meaning…. we are still in the army? Of course! For 10 more cycles!! End of full time National Service, yes! But not the end of army life! Alamak! You mean there’s more????
Next Week : Post NS and Mobilisation
Categories : The Army Series
ATEC 2 completed. Done and dusted. We left Samuel Hill camp and head for civilisation. Off to Rockhampton City. I think I mentioned before that it was a nice city. I don’t know if it is still is. But at that time, it was nice. A city that I really wouldn’t mind migrating to. I don’t like living in a village. I really do not miss nor envy having to balik kampung. No. I really do not like the village. I am a city boy born and raised in the city. Rockhampton is not as bustling as Singapore and I like it that it was peaceful. I like that. A peaceful quiet city. Not as quiet as a village or as busy as Singapore. Rockhampton was just nice.
I honestly cannot remember much of our last R&R. My mind was already looking forward to ORD and back to live a normal civilian life. I just went through the motion for the last few weeks in service. I think we spent a night at Rockhampton City. I think. I don’t even have pictures of it. But I have quite a lot of pictures at the next destination thus I have vague memories of it.
After a night at Rockhampton City, we went to Capricorn Resort, on the coast of Queensland. A resort where we will stay for 2 days and a night before travelling back to Singapore. The first time we came to Australia, we only spent our R&R at Rockhampton. So this time, heading to holiday resort was quite fun. Like I said, I cannot remember anything other than having photographs to remind me that I was there. I cannot even remember the memories that came with the photos. Most probably I slept the days away. I don’t even remember taking part in any activities.
So yes, this is another photo filled blog entry.
So here it is. Capricorn Resort.
We then head back to Rockhampton and took a flight home. As I am typing this, I really am trying to remember but I cannot. My brain has deleted them or my brain didn’t even record them. It was just ORD ORD ORD.
Thank you Rockhampton. You were nice. I would like to migrate there some day. But me being a practical person, it will never happen and let it just be a part of life never to be repeated again.
Next Week : Road to ORD
Categories : The Army Series
OK! Here we go! 3rd Battalion Singapore Guards 10th Mono Intake ATEC 2. The one we have been training for. The O levels of National Service. The ultimate objective we have to conquer to get back our pink IC.
We were back at the Shoalwater Bay training area, Queensland Australia. As you would have known by now, I hate travelling. But I must say, the place is actually beautiful. Though it is just an arid sub tropical climate of endless sand dust and dried up trees.
Honestly I cannot remember much about our ATEC 2. So most probably it is just going to be a short post. Yes. The memories are inevitably disappearing. Of course, part of it is because, we don’t really want to remember it as we were going through it.
Same thing like before, it was just mission after mission. Walk after walk. Longer summer days. Cold Australian nights. The vegetation was sparse, making firefights quite easy. We were very fit but we were also very sleepy. I cannot remember how long was ATEC 2 but we didn’t care. Every day is another day closer to earn our freedom and back to our normal lives after ORD.
I will include more pictures here so you can see how beautiful the place is, though of course pictures can never do justice to the place compared to what your eyes can see. More pictures because less words.
I do remember some small things about it.
One. Gam’s coffee rush.
I was in the GPMG team. I had 2 men under me, Shahrizal and Gam. We had damn heavy loads to carry. I still cannot understand why they put me, a skinny fellar, to be in this team. I had good men. These 2 guys were as strong as an ox. But still, the toughness of the missions and the terrain can wear the fittest and strongest down.
I remember we were very sleepy. We were very tired too. Like all missions, we would have to walk to the objective. The walk would usually take the whole night. As we reached the objective, Gam was spamming coffee powder. He ate them all from the sachets. I understand because we were all extremely sleepy. But he spammed it right before we began our firefight at the objective and suddenly he had the coffee rush. Even with the load, he sprinted past us during the firefight. It was always me running first and they tagged behind me as they wait my assessment and my instructions. But for this mission, Gam just sprinted and “killed” the enemies as fast as he could while me and Shahrizal had to keep up with him. It was funny. After the mission, we laughed and he just said… “wow that was a rush.” Of course after that, we were tired again.
Two. We were fierce.
It was ATEC 2. We didn’t want to fail it. We wanted to get it done and get out of there. The umpires were doing their jobs but also tried to make life difficult for us by throwing challenges. Some time before this, we were told to always respect them and adhere to their instructions and their decisions. But this particular exercise, we didn’t care. We knew our stuff. We trained and fought together longer than the umpires knew us. We knew our drills like clockwork. The umpires had to run to keep up with us. Way back when we started our training 1.5 years ago, Lieutenant Jason told us that we must be like dogs, upon released into the battlefield, we have to sprint and hunt our enemies down before they could react. That was what we did. It was our last burst of fire. And sprinted we did. Some of the umpires were not happy because they could not see what we did and could not decide on the “kills”. But we barked at them, both the enemies and the umpires. It wasn’t our fault they couldn’t keep up. I remember seeing many of us ignoring the umpires, including myself and screaming back at them whenever they made “dubious” decisions and we fought until we got our way. It was fun.
Three. Fardlie challenging our CO.
Well he was just doing his job. I was nearby and I saw it. We were supposed to defend an area and if anybody were to approach, we would have to challenge the person with a password. If they get it wrong, it was our job to engage him. It was night, it was dark. CO and his entourage approached our area and Fardlie challenged him for the password. Of course he got it right, and passed through but what happened after that, his entourage laughed at us sarcastically, “waaaah you all dare challenge CO ah?” Sorry. We don’t angkat or tripod ranks. Doesn’t mean got high rank, we have to put flowers for him to pass. This is not the CC or grassroots event. This is ATEC. We mean business.
So yeah, that’s all I can remember. We ended ATEC like battle hardened soldiers. Went back to Samuel Hill Camp and enjoyed our rest.
ATEC 2 final result : High Redcon 2A
Bolehlah. As long no need to redo. As long as we can ORD in time and in peace.
Next Week : Exercise Wallaby Again (Part 3)
Categories : The Army Series
November 2002. Our second time travelling to Australia. Again I dread travelling overseas. But this time it felt ok because it is our second time and I kind of know what to expect. The flight duration, where we land, where we are going to stay and of course, what we will be doing.
This time around, it will be our ATEC 2. ATEC means Army Training Evaluation Centre. Every NS and reservist unit will have to go through this test organised by the centre. There will be 2 tests. Like an exam for the unit.
ATEC test 1, or what we call ATEC 1, will be a few months before ATEC 2. Like mid year exam like that. Then ATEC 2 will be year end exam. The scores for both tests will be combined and then you will get your overall score for the unit. I just realise I didn’t write a blog post about ATEC 1. By now we would have completed it.
So what happened in ATEC 1 is basically a test for a soldier’s readiness. We were tested individually for our technical handling skills with our weapons, meaning we can operate our weapons efficiently. Like, strip weapon and assemble weapon within a stipulated time, weapon malfunction contingency actions and also our marksmanship. There was also tests for the section in combat situations too I think. Every soldier will be tested and then the scores will be combined to reflect the unit’s overall score. For ATEC 1, we got the top score which was called Redcon 1. Basically like getting A1 for exams.
The gradings were something like:
High Redcon 2A
Low Redcon 2A
If your unit gets Redcon 3, you will have to do a retest, meaning you will take ATEC 1 all over again.
So we completed ATEC 1 with Redcon 1. Now we are going on to ATEC 2.
ATEC 2 is to test the combat effectiveness of the whole battalion. Meaning, how the whole battalion execute missions. No more tests on the individual or the section but for the battalion as a whole. Same thing, we try to avoid Redcon 3 so that we do not have to do a retest. Once all this are done, only then can the unit ORD. ORD actually means Operationally Ready Date. Meaning, when you pass both tests, then the unit is ready for operation.
So we are here at Rockhampton, Queensland Australia again for ATEC 2. For us, we just want to ORD and get our pink IC and our lives back. (At this point of writing, I found out that NSF now don’t have to surrender their pink IC to MINDEF anymore.) So the morale is quite high. Get this thing done and we ORD. But the shit thing was, we were supposed to ORD on the 12th of December 2002. We heard stories from those who completed their NS before us that they could clear their leave before their ORD. Sometimes up to a month plus. But we couldn’t because we had to do our ATEC 2 in November 2002. A month before we ORD. So we just had to say goodbye to our leave. For me personally, I had about 14 days of leave unused. And also numerous more days of unclaimed offs. I am still annoyed by that till today.
November 2002. Exercise Wallaby again. ATEC 2. No chance to clear leave and off. November means it is summer in the southern hemisphere. Meaning daylight is longer. And at that time it was the fasting month. Great. Graaaappeeeee!
It’s the same Rockhampton airport again. The same Vanilla Coke. The 40 sticks cigarette packs. The same 2 litre milk drinks.
The same ride to Shoalwater Bay training area. The same first checkpoint at Samuel Hill Camp before heading to Old Camp Growl.
Eh wait…. we reached Samuel Hill Camp and we were told that we will be settling there. Woohoo! No need to go Old Camp Growl! Samuel Hill have much better facilities. Our tentages will be on cement and not gravel. There’s a proper administration building made of concrete and most importantly, there is a proper toilet and shower! We still had to be butt naked with everyone to take a shower but at least it’s proper. Not some makeshift tents. I don’t have much photos. Like I said before, we didn’t have digital cameras. But I found a blog with photos which you can have a look.
So we settled down in our camp. We are already familiar with the routines by now and also the schedule.
1st week. Administration and practice exercises.
2nd week. ATEC 2
3rd Week. Administration and R&R
Yup another 3 weeks here in the Australian outback. Let’s get it done and then we can ORD! Make sure don’t get Redcon 3 la.
Next week : Exercise Wallaby Again (Part 2)
Categories : The Army Series
XY: So I started working
B: 9 - 5?
XY: It’s 8 to 6:30 now.
B: That’s because you don’t work on Saturdays anymore.
XY: It depends. Some companies still make staff work on weekends.
B: Then that’ll be more than 44 hours a week.
XY: Yup. Just like speeding lorries and vans with tinted windows, the authorities doesn’t seem to be bothered about it.
B: That is life. You’ll have to work.
XY: I do not understand. When we die, the company moves on without us. When the company dies, we die with it. There are 7 days a week but we have to work 5 days of it and only 2 days for ourselves. There are 24 hours a day but we have to give 12 hours to them. That is half. We then have 4 hours for ourselves which most of the time are spent on commuting and stuffing our stomachs and then 8 hours of sleep. We normalise a lot of things in the past decades but we do not realise that spending more time at work than for ourselves is not normal?
B: As I said, that is life.
XY: So it is live to work and not work to live.
Categories : The Short Story Series
you know what is not fair
it is when you want to grow your hair
you think its cool
but you have to go to school
primary secondary tertiary
sorry i dont have degree
and then ns calls for me
followed by reservists and ippt
by the time you rod
hair gone already
categories : The Short Story Series
Web logs of art activities on a regular basis (hope).