Life as an officer cadet

I had a total culture shock when I enlisted into the Officer Cadet School (OCS) in SAFTI Military Institute. It was very different from BMTC where majority of the newly enlisted soldiers are trained. For one, cadets are expected to maintain a very high level of discipline and one will have to answer for his/her own action. Disciplinary action includes confinement, extras (where one will perform duties over weekends or public holidays) or even being charged (restriction of privileges, stoppage of leave etc.) for serious offenses.

It was definitely very stressful and difficult to cope for the first 3 weeks and I am still trying to adapt to the new environment and the fast pace training. Typically, I would wake up at 0515 hours and will not sleep until 2245 hours. In between training programs, the only breaks I get are meal times, which usually last for 30 minutes. Gone is the administrative (personal) time where I used to be able to slack around in my bunk for an hour or so before the next training program commence. Standby-bed is a common sight and we are expected to keep the bunk in tip top condition (that is to say, all the shoes/sandals have to be arranged properly under the bed and even the way uniforms are hung in the wardrobe needs to be standardized throughout the platoon) at all times. I usually could not sleep in peace for the first few weeks because of turnouts, which is common because the instructors claimed that we must be operationally ready. Apart from physical training, we are also mentally trained in one form or another. There are plenty of tests, which require us to study during our “free time”, and we are expected to do well in all of them.

I have actually felt very pressurized because I am not physically fit as compared to most of my platoon mates and I am uncertain if I can take the training. If not for the support from my family members and friends, I would have gave up and get out of course. I agree that it is prestigious being an officer but sometimes, I asked myself is it worth going through all these since I am not interested in a military career. I was supposed to be in the Air Force training to be a pilot but because of delays in my medical review, the application is being freezed.

I certainly hope that I’ll be able to adapt soon and make it an enjoyable and memorable training.