Sunday, April 19, 2009

12:27 pm

Its ok to be a follower (for NS)

In my BMT, my commanders kept "physcoing" us about the benefits of being a commander, about how the normal man will usually suffer in NS. Mainly its due to the enhanced leadership batch we are in, hence the pressure to ensure most of us express interest in it.

Throughout our BMT life, we were peppered with phrases like "you will learn this, you will learn that when you enter command school". Then in the morning 5BX, the few specialists that took us sometimes remarked that being a commander enables them to sleep more, they just take turns taking the platoon during the wee hours. During QnA sessions when asked about what does the "man" do, what we were told was basically the life of a rifleman. We will be assigned a weapon and train together with a group of 5 other men for the remaining NS life and reservist.

Not that they are spewing lies, but I felt that they didn't mention much about the alternative but interesting vocations such as signals for me, some to police, armour and artillery many others which I know but cannot say. Or could it be the relatively slacker Signals life which is clouding by judgment I wouldn't know. Our BMT specialists are also ASLC trained which probably skewed their view towards managing infantry.

A man also has lesser responsibilities which results in lower chances of confinement. I heard of this 1:3:7 ratio where for the same mistake, the man will get one confinement/extra guard duty, specialists 3 and officers 7. One weekend guard duty is seriously shiong, can't imagine anything more on consecutive weeks.

So what about the fear mongering in BMT? On paper, those who are disinterested in command school can say no. From my experience so far and the accounts for others, those who say no at the start will get "special" attention from commanders. Somehow, most will eventually say yes lah. This consistency with other BMT companies smells of a top-down instruction. Whether company commanders are under pressure to deliver "interested" numbers is a speculation I can never verify. What I do know is that a certain significant number reluctantly put yes and some very motivated to do so end up not in. And some dunno how the hell managed to enter with their appalling attitude.

Of course, I have heard of rumours that some people's vocations are predetermined on the day when we took our barely disguised IQ/physical tests during our medical checkup. This in turns affects the BMT company and the enlistment date (since I guess potential vocational manpower requirements have to be planned well in advance). A personal example would be that Signals need men in May hence I must enlist in January to be available to them.

The 3 main reasons I surmise if that would change are these.

1. You show exceptionally good leadership/physical abilities and potential.
2. Opposite from above.
3. You change PES status, OOT from BMT etc.

If you are go though normally, you tend to stick with your pre-assigned vocation. This is pure speculation on my part. After all, I do hear of freak cases. My platoon best went to SISPEC and I heard from Chuen Hwee his went to be a man. Some of my bunkmates had their JC friends becoming a rifleman.

It may seem unfair for SAF to pre-judge people but I believe for NS, this is the most efficient way. There are tens of thousands of men enlisting every year. There is simply not enough manpower and time to go though each enlistee's profile carefully to decide his suited vocation. Whats most probable is that each person has several scores in different areas. A computer program then just sort the cohort into different vocations based on a pre-set criteria. Loopholes are bound to exist for scores don't make a person and vice-versa.

In the army and outside world, not everyone can be the leaders. There has to be followers. If you are given the opportunity to enter command school, do treasure the skills you learn and the leadership scenarios you will be put into. Don't misuse your powers or show off just because you are a commander, your followers may just be denied their opportunity because of reasons outside their control.

For those like me who are the followers, just take this has a good break to rest your mind and just follow orders. There are many chances in the future to showcase your leadership capabilities in a corporate/public service environment. For the case of signals, specialists are almost equal to operators like me. Just the pay difference and extra section leader training.

Regardless of this, this is just NS. We are a conscripted force. Just serve two years and get back out to civilian life but don't forget your skills. If war breaks out, each of us whether as a man, a specialist or an officer have a part to play using our training to defend this nation. I have heard before that up to half or more of physically-able men will flee should signs of war be imminent. I do hope that is not the case. A cycle of cynicism will breed more cynicism and thats how a country would fall.

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That was worrisome enough: what if they were a flop? These were professionals. What would they think? use it or lose it policies

By Blogger Rebecca A. Maynard, at 20 April 2018 at 1:01 am 


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