Sunday, October 30, 2005

Test week for GPMG & SOC

This week is virtually a testing week for me. I got GPMG weapon technical handling test & Standard Obstacle Course (SOC) test. But the good news is I passed everything and to add to the good news, I don’t need to have anymore SOC at least for this year.

Day 1 (24 Oct)
I had section live firing for the whole day. We moved from one bound to the next before firing the blanks and the actual rounds during separate training. I was the 2IC M203 for the whole of live firing. It was fun and interesting shooting the enemy after moving from bound to bound. It rained during the evening and the whole place was muddy. When night falls, the whole place was wet and muddy but I got a very good experience in doing fire movement during the night.

Day 2
Lessons on Sand modeling and terrain modeling. We also had lessons on Appreciation of Situation, Battle procedure and Approval of plan lessons, which will be used in the patrol field camp in 2 weeks time.

Day 3
I had intensive lessons on GPMG. The immediate action drills, stripping and assembling, loading & unloading and the theory part of the GPMG. It took us the whole morning and early afternoon.

In the late afternoon, I got SOC trial test. I passed the test with a timing of 8:53. I need to pass this trial test in order to proceed to the actual test on Friday. Guess what, I made it to the actual test.

Day 4
Continue with our lessons on GPMG for the whole day. The instructors emphasizes on the theory and Computer Aided Instructions for the test tomorrow.

Day 5 (Test day)
This is the day where the entire tests are conducted. In the morning, I had my actual SOC test. I passed the test with a timing of 8:58. Even though it was slower than the trial test, I am happy that I passed, becoz I don’t need to run SOC for at least this year.

In the afternoon, we had GPMG theory test and technical handling test. I managed to pass the technical handling test but not sure whether I passed the theory test, because it was dammed difficult.

By evening, it was relaxed time. We had a Deepa-Raya celebration for Deepavali and Hari Raya Puasa celebration. The performance were all the Indian and malay dance moves. It was quite entertaining. We had had a nasi ayam dinner and staty…very satisfying sia…

Day 6 (Today)
I had lesson on detailed Approval of plan (AOP). Very theoretical. Must study for this. Before I booked out, I got a defaulter’s parade (punishment for running across the road without the proper turning point). It was quite xiong. We had to take out the fieldpack items and repack and then off to marching. It was a fast march and a lot of turning behind command, furthermore it happened simultaneously. I nearly fainted due to the turning. Luckily I survive through it. After that, it was book out time…Yeah!

A very satisfying week for me as I passed the most important test which is the SOC. No more SOC for me loh… I can slack and have my free time during this period. Yahooooooo!


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Section Field Camp @ Tekong

This week, my training schedule is the 4 days 3 nights field camp at Pulau Tekong. Back to Tekong, it reminds me of my BMTC days; the fun; the TCS and the buddies around. This time, I came back as a trainee at the same camp site where I used to camp, Rubber plantation (Salabin). But this field camp is more xiong than the field camp in BMT. Everybody had only 3 to 4 hours of sleep each day, as the night training usually end quite late.

Day 1 (17 Oct)
Wake up at 4am. Really tired as the previous night I didn’t really slept well. Furthermore, we are the advance party (Logistics platoon), therefore time was really short as we need to load the stores and rushed for breakfast as well. By 6am, we were off to Tekong. Feeling sian and low as it was another field camp for me. I really hate field camp. Reached Tekong and set up the necessary logistics and our resting area.

Day 1 of the field camp was about navigation around the vegetation, the steep slope around Tekong area. It consists of day and night topology. We walked around the island searching for checkpoints with full battle order and weapon. Without proper man made features and depending on maps and compass, it was tough to navigate but we managed to complete the whole exercise. The exercise end at 12am and after cleaning my rifle, I powder bath and head to sleep.

Day 2
Day 2 seems faster as expected. I woke up at 5am and got ready for the day lessons plan. We had our stretching exercise at the beach nearby. Next we had fire movement drills, file formation movement, quick attack movement and danger crossing lessons. For the lessons, I was quite confused as there were many movement tactics to execute the attack. The different terrain also adds further woes to my confusion. We walk, stand, squat and prone whenever there was a vehicle or crossing a junction. That made me even more sluggish in movement. At night, we had ambushed lesson where we set up traps to ambush our enemy without them detecting us. Thereafter, we had night fire movement drills. The rain in the day, made me even lower morale than the first day. All end at 1am plus after all the usual stuff had been cleared.

Day 3
I had one of worst days in my military life. First, it was the quick attack movement lesson. I was the section commander and I think I just messed everything up. I didn’t have my basic tactics right, poor command, control and deployment of my section mates. I did it for 3 times and yet still can’t get it right. By the second time, I was stressed up by the situation. I can’t think properly and confused on how to attack the enemy. I was disappointed with myself as well as letting my section mates down. My platoon commander had to take the trouble to explain and I knew that he was disappointed with me. To add to it, I also lost my rifle cleaning kit during the fire movement.The weather turn horrible in the early afternoon.

Our next activity was the Tenderfoot exercise where we were left in our section to find checkpoint without the instructors help. It rained the whole of the afternoon and the terrain condition was very wet and slippery. It made bashing through the jungle dangerous and difficult. We didn’t managed to complete all checkpoints as the last checkpoint; I had overshot by a few hundred metres. The night was better as the weather was back to normal but it was so dark in the jungle. During our last checkpoint, we hol lan (lost) in the jungle and we bashed through the jungle for one hour before we managed to get back to the end point. By then, it was already midnight. Tired and restless, I just hope the last day of the field camp would come sooner than expected. 3 cock-ups in a day and my lowest point of my military life.

Day 4 (last day of the field camp)
We had the section movement circuit test. It was a test to see whether we understand tactical movement during engagement in attack or on the lookout for enemy. Most of our mission, I think we just messed it up. Movement was not as swift and quick, I was slow in finding cover and fire movement was also not tactical. Everything was in a messed. I was section commander for the last two missions and I fared below par. We also got punished for not lying down when contacted. We were made to leopard crawl a distance before the instructor called it a day.

By 2pm, we board the fast craft back to mainland and back to our school. Everybody was tired and total silence as all had slept throughout the way back to the school. My PC called me upon for a special interview and he commented that my performance was below than expectation and a special report was written. I knew that it was time to buck up from there onwards. After cleaning my weapon and dinner, I head to sleep. Another chapter of my military life was written.

Day 5
IPPT test in the morning. I think I still maintain my silver standard but gold target was still a realistic target. We had lesson on how to ensure safety and prevention measures during live firing. We also had rehearsal for the section live firing on Monday. Book out @ 7.30pm. Back to home.

To say, this was my lowest point of my military life so far. Jumbled up fire movement drills, losing rifle-cleaning kit, failure to lead to the correct checkpoint and the special interview by PC really summed up how I feel this week. I just hope next week would be a better week.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

1 month in OCS

Time really passes by so quickly and I had already spent 1 month in OCS. In OCS or other command school, we learn a lot on weapons as well as military knowledge.

Day 1
We had our SAW (Section Automatic Weapon) and SAR 21 technical handling test. Technical handling test includes stripping and assembling, theory test & Immediate Action drills. After last week lectures and practical lesson on these weapons, we are given this test to determine whether we can go for live-firing. I pass the SAR 21 technical handling test but fail my SAW technical handling test. In the army context, 75 and above is considered pass and I got 72 marks. Even though it is going to be a black spot in my report book, I managed to pass the retest to fire the SAW rifle.

Day 2

I had M203 (Grenade Launcher) technical handling test. For this weapon, it is one of the easiest weapons to learn. The Immediate Action (IA) drills and stripping and assembling of weapon is fast and require fewer steps then the previous two weapons. In the afternoon, we had live-firing on the SAR 21 and SAW weapon. For both weapons, my shots were mostly off target and none is on target for SAR 21. Haiz! Maybe I am a bit rusty when it comes to live-firing. The SAW was especially fantastic. I trigger press is equivalent to a 3 to 4 rounds being fired off. The recoil is much less than other weapon. So overall, I give SAW the thumb up.

Day 3
Nothing really special except lecture on section fire movement. The lecture was to prepare us for the field camp in Pulau Tekong next week.

Day 4
In the morning, we had 7km endurance run. Timing was not bad and managed to run the 7km without stopping. But I made a mistake when running the last part of the 7km run. I cut across the road when I am supposed to cross at the place where the cones are place. Being spotted by the instructor, I was given a defaulter parade (Marching for 1 hour) on a weekend with the rest who had also cut across the road. I am not sure whether the instructor remembers it, as he had not taken down our names. SO I hope he will forget when the next week come.

In the afternoon, I had lecture on Signals & communication. The lessons are on the characteristics and how to use theory on the signals sets used in SAF. I also learn that matrix and some other encoding stuff when communicating over the signals set to prevent enemy from understanding communication.

Day 5
Another lectures on Signals. It is more towards drills to solve jamming and voice over procedure lessons. The most important part of this lesson is how to communicate efficiently and effectively. In the afternoon, we had practical lessons on how to set up a dipole (Communication device set up in a forest that can sent signals up to 16km). This dipole is going to be used in our section field camp next week. I wondered who will be the unlucky one to carry the signal set, hopefully is not me…

Day 6
It is the day where u sees other people book out and ur wing is staying back for more lessons. A bit low morale today, maybe is due to others wings booking out earlier while we are booking out in the evening.

In the morning, I had Standard Obstacle Course (SOC) training. This time is a different location; it is located near the Pasir Leba Camp. Ran 3 times for the course today. After lunch, we had live-firing for the MATADOR and the M203. The bad news is that there is not enough ammunition for the M203 and the 18 unlucky ones are likely to burn 1 weekend just to fire MATADOR. What to do, sometimes things don’t go well according to plan. Haiz! The firing of the M203 Grenade launcher was shiok. The recoil was the strongest so far from the weapon that I had fired. It is like shooting a grenade and explodes upon hitting the ground. The impact was quite strong.

After the live-firing had ended, it is back to high morale as we are booking out. To say, I actually just book out a few hours ago which was at 8pm and tomorrow is back to camp by 8pm. No wonder people say: “I don’t want to lead an army life.”

I hope my 4 days 3 nights field camp in Tekong would be a smooth sailing one… Cya!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I’m back after 3 weeks confinement

At last, I am back home after my compulsory 3 weeks confinement in Officer Cadet School (OCS). Training was tougher than the training in Basic Military Training (BMT), at least 5 times tougher! As of now, I felt lethargic & fatigue had set upon me 1 week ago.

1st Week
Day 1
Feeling homesick. Culture shock sets in during my first day. Everybody in the school was at least a Full Lieutenant and everywhere I go, is like greeting almost everybody. Morale for me was very low. But at least I got a good buddy & roommate to keep me going. I also got my Officer Cadet Trainee Rank (One white bar) and the lanyard that protect me from guard and confinement duties. I think that was a lied. They push back the guard and confinement duties till the 3rd week. The food was good. On top of it, we also got PT kits, t-shirt and a commander bag.

Day 2 to Day 7
Slowly I start to adapt to the surrounding. Everyday, we will be running and running. Everyday we had lectures, recruitment talk and National Education. It was very boring and dozed off quite often. Physical Training was a notch higher than expected. We also did a confidence jump wearing our uniform and jump into the swimming pool from 5m. That was shiok man. Next we also had the tower run where we ran around the camp and up to the tall tower (SAFTI tower), which consists of 294 steps. Since the run was conducted in the wee hours, the view was not that fantastic.

2nd Week

More running and lectures. But the highlight of this week is the leadership field camp. 2 days 2 night camp at rambutan area. We had navigation practical lessons and learn how to navigate ourselves in the forest using the compass and the map. It consists of day and night navigation. The second day of my leadership field camp consists of navigation on our own to the respective checkpoints. It was very difficult and we spent approximate 1 hour looking for just one checkpoint. The subsequent checkpoints require us to walk up a hill with steep slope and bashing through the forest. It was challenging as well as tiring. For those 2 days, we slept in the open forest with just a groundsheet beneath us.

At the end of the 2 days leadership camp, we got a turn out where we dashed out of the forest as a stimulated enemy attack had occurred. With our field pack, helmet and SBO, we got tekang from our platoon instructors. I think I did countless number of push up and crutches. Next our instructors ask the heaviest platoon mates to act like casualties. Using a stretcher, we carry them back to the wing line. It was tough as we carry them around the camp premises. Once we reach back to wing line, we were made to carry additional 3 persons around the camp again. With my shoulders aching and breathing heavily, it was tough to get going. The weight was getting heavier with every step we took. At last, we finished the whole thing and back to wing line. I was sweating non-stop and all was drenched with sweat. It was very tough.

With the leadership field camp over, I was looking forward for my family day, where my family will be visiting me. They brought a lot of stuff especially Pi Pa Kao which was the most important in the barang barang they had pack. We took some photos and visiting my bunk. This was the time where we had total freedom.

3rd week
I called it the fatigue week. From day 1 till today of this week, we had been running non-stop. It kicks off with two 6km endurance run, Standard Obstacle course (ran 10 times for this week), Beep test, gym and so on. We also had lessons on M203, SAR 21 and Section Automatic Weapon (SAW). I was the “LUCKY” one to carry the SAW for the field camp instead of the SAR 21. We learn the technical, characterizes, technical handling and the Immediate action remedies. Last but not least book out day today. Phew.

For those in BMT, I should say they should try for command school as u will learn a lot of stuff in army even though the physical training was tough and u get a lot of scolding. I should say time is quite well spent on learning if u enters to command school. Look out for more stories to come…

P.S. OCS learning curve is steeper than normal university learning curve. I need to absorb faster than expected.


Saturday, October 08, 2005

Officer Cadet School Posted by Picasa

Outside HQ Posted by Picasa

SAFTI MI Tower Posted by Picasa

My room Posted by Picasa

My bunk corridor Posted by Picasa

Tango Wing Line Posted by Picasa