Posts about ocs

Another chapter closed

Today marks the end of my seven weeks of Air Force Service Term (AFST) training in the Officer Cadet School (OCS). I must say time passes very fast and seven weeks just seems to vanish at the snap of a finger. This training is one of most enjoyable and memorable one as compared to my pre-infantry training back in OCS last December. Not only have I made a bunch of new friends from other vocations, I’ve also learnt many values, leadership qualities and how to handle various situations as well as to lead a team of people and get things done.

I mentioned in one of my posts that this service term training would be a good break from my previous routines and I aim to give my best. In every course, there would be ups and downs but I’ve not really seen any major issues in this course except for the occasional miscommunications and debates. I guess the Air Force culture is different and the people have a set of positive mindsets and thinking. The way things are done are more professional and efficient and this could be one of the factors why my stay in OCS Air Wing is enjoyable. The trainees are given more freedom and say in terms of the way things are being run and executed and this has greatly helped in many areas.

I’m not sure if the rest have this feeling in their hearts but honestly speaking, I’ve never felt “sour” when it was time to hand over the bunks and leave the place. Air Wing has more or less became my second home over these few weeks. Nonetheless, I guess it’s time to move on to the next chapter of my training back in Air Force School. Before I end, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the instructors and fellow course mates whom have made my stay in OCS Air Wing an enriching, memorable and enjoyable one.

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Rock climbing

Today was the first time I ever attempted to rock climb in my life! All these while, I thought rock climbing was an easy task until I actually starting climbing up the artificial rocks. Though I did not managed to completely climb up to the top, I guess it was enjoyable and a great experience. Not only have I learned more about rock climbing (the equipment, safety requirements etc.), I’ve also understand the importance of teamwork, especially your buddy at the bottom holding on to the rope that’s attached to my safety harness.

Every step that I take is physically challenging. I realized that it takes a lot of determination, analytical thinking, proper coordination between the legs and hands as well as muscles to reach the top. There were moments where I was really exhausted and my forearms muscles were screaming in pain. By right, I should be using more of my legs to assist me in climbing instead of using arm power. I guess with more practice, I will be able to complete the entire climb without much effort.

Coming Thursday would be the last exam for this service term and Friday would be the IPPT test. I hope I’ll be able to do well in both and at least improve on my results as compared to the previous ones.

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Time travel

Last week, I wrote about feeling anxious, excited and yet looking forward to attend my AFST back in OCS after a long wait. Little did I realize that one week came and went at the blink of an eye and not only have I made new friends, I’ve was also elected to hold wing appointment for a week. Being a senior cadet (I crossed over to Air Force after completing my infantry service term), I was prepared to hold wing appointment having heard from my friends that Air Wing practices a cadet management system. Naturally, I was appointed as a Cadet Squadron Commander for a week — the role is similar to that of a sergeant major [1].

Typically, holding an appointment means more workload and responsibilities. Nevertheless, I’m grateful to be given an opportunity to prove my abilities and apply leadership qualities which I’ve learnt. Though there are times I’m in a dilemma or being thrown a difficult situation to resolve, I have learnt how to strive a balance between friendship and duties. All of these are part and parcel of the core value lessons that were taught to us.

Life in OCS Air Wing is different. The atmosphere, environment and approach of working and resolving issues are different as compared to the others. Lectures makes up about 80% of the training program while the other 20% consists of physical, team bonding and sports and games activities. I would say that there is a difference in culture among the tri-services in the armed forces though we share the common goal — that is to defend our country.

In 6 weeks time, I’ll be leaving to Brunei (yet again) for JST. By then, it would have mark the end of my entire course and I would have completed the identity transformation.

[1] Sergeant Major — Refers to a non-commissioned officer (NCO) who ensures discipline among soldiers and conducting parades.

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Identity transformation

For the next 8 weeks, I won’t be able to write as often as I’ll be going back to the Officer Cadet School (OCS) for my Air Force Service Term (AFST). This means I’ll be staying in camp on weekdays and only return home during weekend. Frankly speaking, I look forward to attend this course as it’ll be a good break from my usual routine for the past 4 months, as well as undergoing some form of identity transformation from an infantry trained soldier to an air force trainee.

I’ll try to keep this web log updated whenever I have extra time to spare or manage to secure an internet connection. As compared to the last 2 months, though things will be a little quiet here, do remember and continue to visit this site for updates!

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Survivor Brunei

I’ll be going to Brunei on Jan 3, 2006 for a ten days jungle orientation course. This would be my first time embarking on an overseas outfield exercise and I believe many of us are certainly not looking forward for this trip. When we were first told of this trip, many were shocked as we were told in such a short span of time. Eventually, I decided to take things easily and have a more positive outlook.

I headed down to beech road early in the morning and spend quite a little to get many outfield gears such as hammock and bungee cords as we were told that it is not advisable to sleep on the ground there. We have also been told that the living conditions there would not be as luxury as compared back in here and I’ve already mentally prepared myself for that.

Hope that things will go well and I look forward to complete the exercise and return to Singapore on Jan 12, 2006.

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Life in new camp

The day when I reported to the Home of Combat Engineers in Nee Soon camp, I told myself that this will be another fresh beginning of military training and I’ll have to have a more positive thinking and look forward for the training. The engineer’s headquarters was a few hundred meters away from the guardhouse and I thought this was similar to SAFTI MI. After the initial registrations and settling into my bunk, I was “welcomed” by the previous occupant of the bunk (senior cadets) where they left a piece of note with advice together with three pairs of epaulettes as a form of blessing.

Unlike when I first enlisted into OCS where all our personal stores were properly laid out, this training wing seems to be unprepared for our arrival. We were told to purchase our own PT-attire and admin T-shirt (No. 6) as they will not be issued by the unit. Furthermore, we had to sort and collect our own stores and pr’ecis within a short period. I believe all of these should have been prepared in advance instead of us having to do it personally.

Anyway, here’s a breakdown of my first week in Engineering Training Institute (ETI).

Day 1: We spent the entire morning sorting out and unpacking our personal stuff. Thereafter, there was a course opening by the Commanding Officer (CO) as well as an introduction of the various coaches (instructors) by the Officer Commanding (OC) of Engineer Officer Cadet Course (EOCC), Cadet training wing. Although the weather looks gloomy, we continued with the familiarization run which didn’t really seems like one because we simply ran and sing along without being introduced to the various landmarks. I wasn’t exactly pleased with the way things were conducted as it soon started to rain heavily with lightning and we did a total of 150 push-ups and 60 crunches. The lesson we had to take away was “Overcome fatigue and work as a team”.

Day 2: Had a so called “excursion” where we visited the Armored Engineer Training Centre and 30 SCE (30th Singapore Combat Engineers) unit to learn more about it since we were told that many will be posted out for seven weeks of specialized training in various engineering unit.

Day 3: As usual, we had IPPT categorization test. From the way OC sees how we cadet conduct the IPPT cat test, he told us “Everything must have a proper form of structure in order for things to work”.

Day 4: First book out – except that we booked out at 2345 hours. Before book out, there was the usual standby bed as well as a summary test on what we have learnt for the week. We were told that unless we pass the test, we would not get to book out. It seems like it is a tradition for engineers to book out (or even) work late into the night.

Before I forget, there’s this seven-minute thing that was mentioned. This means that we will have frequent turnouts and everything (field pack inspection) is expected to be laid out within seven minutes — regardless of where you. Besides this, we were told that engineers do not really sleep as they work best at night. Hence, this explains the 2300-hour Routine Order timing as well as the 2359 lights out timing on “normal” days. Looks like life as an engineer isn’t going to be that enjoyable after all!

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Farewell march

As a farewell march for Service Term and for those posting out to support arms, we marched 23km last night. This was part of our senior bar presentation ceremony, which was suppose to be held before sunrise and on top of a knoll in the SAFTI live firing area. It was a good march with excellent scenery, less the humidity and the occasional drizzle. By the end of the march, my foot was sore but it wasn’t as bad as the 16km road march, which I participated few weeks ago.

Today, I’m no longer a junior cadet. There will be more tough training ahead in the professional term as I’ve been posted to the Combat Engineers (CE) vocation. When I tell people that I’ve been posted to CE, their first reaction is “siong”. Let’s see what’s lining up for me when I report to my new unit in Nee Soon camp on Dec 27.

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Cohesion night

Alpha Wing Cohesion

I’ve never really attended any formal social night event in my entire life and this is one of the first time I have to find a date for my social night (Wing Cohesion Night) event in the Officer Cadet School (OCS). I guess this event proved to be of good exposure of what socializing and entertainment is all about as I begin my journey into officership or even adulthood. Still, I would prefer not to socialize as much if possible except for events like this, which I’m left with no choice except to attend.

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Completed service term

When I first enlisted into OCS Alpha wing, I was apprehensive, anxious and feeling very pressurized and worried. This was because I’ve been told that Alpha is a very “siong” (hokkien for tough) wing as compared to the other Army wings in OCS. I thought that would be a very bad start as I’m not physically nor mentally strong and I’m afraid I might not be able to take the training. I remembered the very first dialog with the Wing Commander in the company auditorium where he presented the wing’s vision, mission and achievements for the last cohort. He mentioned that 14 weeks of Service Term training is going to pass very fast but yet memorable. Back then, I was pretty negative and thought that he must have been joking.

Reflecting upon my thoughts now, what he have said was indeed true! I might have very tough times for the past 14 weeks which I’ve spent in OCS Alpha wing but those were wonderful memories. Be it tough training, confinement, extra duties or even achievements, I’ve developed to be a better person with stronger mentality and attitude.

Here are some of the achievements which I’ve gained throughout these 14 weeks of training, though I did not set out to do in the first place:

  1. Standard Obstacle Course (SOC): 9 mins 10 secs
  2. IPPT 2.4km: 9 mins 59 secs
  3. IPPT: Passed (no difference from BMT due to Standing Board Jump, which affects my overall performance)

Now that I’ve cleared the veto factors for Service Term, which is SOC & IPPT, this few weeks is going to be slower pace of training in camp. Next week would be the wing’s cohesion night as well as the release of our postings to various support arms. I certainly hope Air Force would get me out of infantry, now that I’ve suffered for 14 weeks!

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Training this week

Since the end of the last outfield exercise, we were given more recovery time as well as time to clean our muddy personal stores. This week also marks the start of a sequence of Individual Proficiency Physical Fitness Test (IPPT) as well as Standard Obstacle Course (SOC) for people like me who have yet to clear it.

To think of, I’d actually clocked 9m30s previously and I was just short of that 1 second to clear the mark. Because of this, I have to retake the SOC test till I pass and things aren’t looking good because my body fatigue level is very high. My last attempt was on Thursday and I actually clocked 9m54s. Apart from SOC, I’m expected to clear IPPT at the same time and we will not stop doing till we achieve a gold standard, which is being measured in the following manner:

  1. Standing board jump: 216cm to pass, 234cm for gold
  2. Shuttle run: < 10.7sec to pass, < 10.2sec for gold
  3. Sit up: 33 to pass, 40 and above for gold
  4. Chin up: 6 to pass, 10 and above for gold
  5. 2.4km run: < 9.44sec for gold

It’s definitely going to be a tough journey ahead and all these needs to be cleared in less than 2 weeks time before my Service Term in OCS ends. Otherwise, I might be stucked in infantry during my Professional term or even get out of course!

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Field training aftermath

I’m back from 8 days 7 nights of outfield training! This is one of the longest outfield training I have participated since my last outfield during Basic Military Training (BMT) days. To sum it up, here’s a chronological sequence of events:

Day 1: We set of from camp at about 0900 hours. It was drizzling and perhaps this was the reason why the instructors did not conduct a field pack inspection. Initially, we had expected a turnout at the wee hours but everything was rather peaceful. We arrived at the training ground and spent the whole day on navigation exercises, which tests our map reading skills etc.

Day 2 & 3: The weather was/wasn’t on our side. It started to rain in the morning and luckily, we were allowed to stay in the training shed to take shelter while the instructors gave lecture. It was the start of the many days of sleep deprivation we will be experiencing and we were struggling to stay awake. After lunch, we proceeded to apply what we have just learnt on the ground regardless of rain or shine. This didn’t end till the wee hours of day 3 where we finally managed to catch some sleep. Unfortunately, a heavy downpour started just after 4am and we were left shivering under our raincoats in the vegetation as we did not build a shelter.

Day 4: We embarked on a mission led by the instructors. The main purpose of this exercise was to show us how a mission should be conducted and I’m sure we have learnt and gained many pointers from it. It also marks the end of our 4 days of outfield training and we were given a “technical break” where we were given sufficient sleep without interruption.

Day 5 – 7: Headed back to campsite area where we embark on another exercise. It was one of the toughest I have experienced because there’s practically no sleep at all and most of us looked like zombies at the end of the exercise. We were extremely dirty and our feet were starting to sore.

Day 8: We were turnout at 0400 hours and off we went ahead with a 16 km road march, which marks the end of the entire outfield exercise. By the end of the road march, my foot was very numb with blisters and I had to limp around.

I’m glad that all is over and I certainly do not expect any outfield training anytime soon!

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Field training

I’ll be away on outfield military training from 11/21 till 11/28. Then after, I’ll have to bear with another 4 days of in-camp training before returning on either 12/2 or 12/3. During this period, it is going to be extremely torturing and painful experience as I dislike outfield training and because of the constant turnout’s and lack of sleep.

Will keep this site updated as soon as I return home.

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A welcoming break

Since my enlistment into OCS, weekends have been exceptionally precious. I usually get to book out on Saturdays at 3pm and will have to return to camp on Sunday in the evening (the time varies between 1900 – 2100 hours). For the first few weeks, booking out from camp means having to study for tests, complete my journey entries or even prepare the necessary personal stores required for training. However, I’ve come to learn how to multitask and reduce (or even eliminate) the amount of work related to military that steals away my weekends for personal time.

Now, this 3 days of solid break is definitely welcoming and I’m certainly not looking forward to go back to camp anytime soon!

To all my Indian and Muslim friends out there – Happy Deepavali and Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

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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.

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Won't be back till…

As mentioned in my previous post, I’ll be confined for about 2 to 3 weeks (not exactly sure of the date at this moment). Hence, I won’t be able to update this weblog although I will have access to computers but with no internet connection (that’s pathetic).

I should be back somewhere near early October.

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New military vocation

I’ve been waiting in apprehension for my military posting for the last few days. Initially, the instructors told us that we could send them a text message and ask for our new vocation few days before the official posting results will be released to us. Unfortunately, most of the instructors were either not in camp or unsure of the posting details. Hence, I had to patiently wait until 1000 hours this morning for the official results.

Last night, I turned and flipped while trying to sleep. I was excited to know where I will be posted. When I logon to MSN Messenger this morning, I was taken by surprise as many of my platoon mates had already logged on to the internet, anxiously waiting for the clock to strike 1000 hours. Soon enough, I entered my credential and waited for the webpage to load. In just a split second, out came the results:

NRIC: XXXXXXXXX Name: XXXXXXXXXX

Comd SAF BMTC congratulates you for your successful completion of the BMT.

Your Posting Order is listed below:

  1. You are posted to: OCS (ARMY WING).
  2. Your vocation is : OFFICER CADET(CBT).

I was happy for the next few seconds. Messages started to popup all over my desktop as many of us started to ask one another what was their new vocation. It seems like many are quite pleased with their new vocation and most of those I have asked have also gained a place in the Officer Cadet School (OCS). As for me, I shall reserve my opinion until I’ve reported to the new unit.

Update: Oh no, just chatted with my Platoon Commander and looks like OCS isn’t going to be that easy after all! I just realized that we would be confined between 2 to 3 weeks! Although the bunks that we stay in is going to be more luxury, I certainly do not look forward for that few weeks of confinement as well as 9 months of *very* tough training that’s lining up ahead!

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