Your Basic Military Training (BMT) field camp is coming up soon and you’re wondering what else you need to prepare besides the essentials your commanders have mentioned. As an ex-NSF who has survived multiple field camps, here’s everything you need to know!
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When will my field camp be during BMT?
Field camp is one of the high-keys almost all recruits go through during their BMT. It is a five-day, four-night field camp to train recruits in their Individual Field Craft (IFC).
As the field camp is conducted towards the end of BMT, there will be sufficient build-up training to prepare you for what entails. Recruits will be brought to a forested training area to learn basic infantry fire and movement at a group level before embarking on the field camp.
It will be physically and mentally tiring during these few days out in the Tekong forest. If you want to be selected for command school after BMT, the field camp is where you can prove your worth to the commanders.
What happens during the field camp in BMT?
This is what you will be going through during each day for your BMT field camp:
|Day 1||Orientation to the ground|
|Day 2||Shellscrape digging|
Night movement training
|Day 3||IFC test|
|Day 4||Fire and movement practice|
Move to SIT test site
|Day 5||SIT test|
Return to coyline
Your commanders will firstly orientate you to the ground once everyone has arrived at the training site. You will have to sit through a conducting brief by your Officer Commanding (OC). Everyone will then be allocated their sleeping area according to platoon and section level.
After this, training begins within your section with your commander. This includes fire and movement practice, along with demonstrations for the trip flare and claymore systems.
If you are unlucky, it may rain during the first day of field camp. This is also where you will learn to construct the basha tent with your buddy to place your field packs and harbour (sleep). Two things will be enforced at night, body maintenance and security duties. Security includes a rotational duty within your platoon to be carried out with your buddy.
Every hour, two sentries and two prowlers will rotate to pull security through the night. Remember to wake up during your duty timing to report to your commanders!
This will be the most physically tiring day as shellscrape digging begins. This usually takes about four hours under the hot sun. There may be a system in which you will wear the entire Standard Battle Order (SBO) and progressively remove gear depending on the weather. This is to ensure safety as the heat in Tekong can be quite intense.
Fire and movement practice will continue after your shellscrape digging. If you did not complete your shellscrape by the given schedule, you may need to finish digging after training. As night falls, your commanders will train you in night movement.
This consists of tactically walking with the platoon through the forest at night to adjust your eyes to darkness. You will then sleep in your own shellscrape after.
There will be a test by commanders from another unit to test the company’s IFC. This will include:
- Fire and movement
- Range card drawing
- Cover and concealment
As many years of recruits go through this, it is a well-known fact that Day 3 will include a “tekan” session.
While the tekan session differs for every commander, it ultimately consists of physical punishments and shouting by commanders. They will push the platoon to a breaking point, to which the Platoon Commander (PC) will tell a tear-jerking narrative of fighting for loved ones back home.
This is usually quite effective and the day ends with a written letter from your family to further bring out your emotions. It is a rite of passage for most Singaporean sons.
Day 4 will be significantly easier as you get used to being out in the field. There will still be practice drills on fire and movement. After the training, you will be required to cover up the shellscrape as you will move to another site.
Do not accidentally bury any gear as you fill your shellscrape!
Your company will then move to the situational (SIT) test site to to harbour for the night. Dinner will be maggi noodles as you learn to cook your meals outdoors with your buddies. It will be a chill night as you rest for the final day of field camp.
The SIT test is designed to assess your ability to lead in various scenarios. It is a test conducted by external commanders during the last day in field camp where everyone tends to be fatigued.
A group of around 12 recruits from different platoons will work together to complete several “missions” given by the tester. Each recruit has a different role to play for each mission, taking turns to be the In-Charge (IC) and Second-In-Charge (2IC). This is where you show your ability to lead and work together. Remember to give everyone a chance to show their abilities and take a step back as necessary!
Once the SIT test is conducted, your OC will declare the end of field camp and finally return to coyline.
What should I bring for my BMT field camp?
There are restricted items and there will be an inspection on what you bring out into the field. You can attempt to sneak in some comfort items at your own discretion. Besides the necessary gear required during force preparation, these are some items you may want to include:
- Extra underwear and socks
- Mosquito repellent
- Wet wipes
#1 Extra underwear and socks
Your 10-pack item list will already include socks and underwear. However, I feel bringing extras to change into a new pair every night can help you feel more comfortable. You will definitely feel happier changing into a fresh pair each time!
#2 Mosquito repellant
The eMart army shop’s spray-on mosquito repellent seems to be a heavy duty insect repellent. It is super effective in getting rid of the huge mosquitos you will come across in the Tekong jungle. One full bottle is sufficient for the field camp duration, but remember to keep it accessible in your pocket at all times.
#3 Wet wipes
Wet wipes are not allowed by commanders for field camp. That does not mean you cannot sneak in them into certain parts of your 10-pack! These are much more practical than the eMart’s soap sponge in use, and your buddies will love you for it. Take note as to dispose of them properly in a ziplock bag after use.
The field ration accessory packs already contain two small packs of various candies. I personally felt it was insufficient and always wanted more. Sneaking in an extra tube of sweets may be ideal to bring you and your section mates’ morale up in tough times!
What are some tips to survive BMT field camp?
Everyone’s experience may differ, but here are some tips that can get you through any BMT field camp:
Field discipline will be strictly enforced by your commanders throughout the field camp. Remember to secure your rifle during shellscrape digging and when sleeping, as your sergeants will come around to try to “steal” them. Personally, I slung the SAR21 under my body while sleeping and hid the rifle magazines in the field pack. Also, consciously take note of your noise level to remain tactical.
Five days in the jungle can get very dirty. While you get used to it, there are little things you can do to get some comfort. Heat rash is a problem most recruits endure during the field camp. It is a painful prickly sensation that tends to affect areas of your body where heat is trapped.
Remember to scrub these areas at night when body maintenance is necessary.
Cover up any exposed skin when sleeping to avoid mosquito or insect bites. I usually wear socks, while covering my hands and face with the Gore-Tex jacket while sleeping.
Food and water
The Meals Ready-to-Eat (MREs), aka combat rations, are generally quite tasty. However in my experience, I would avoid the Makhani bean stew meal and exchange it with someone willing to try.
Refill your water canteen and water bag whenever possible, as commanders will always be enforcing water parades and your water levels.
This also gives you more time to rest during breaks.
What do I do after the field camp in BMT?
After field camp, these are the conducts remaining before your Passing-Out Parade (POP):
- Hand grenade throwing
- Close Quarter Battle (CQB) training (two days one night)
- Battle Inoculation Course (BIC)
- Route marches
The BMT field camp is an iconic part of every NS journey. It is a story all soldiers across the SAF can relate to as it is a shared experience across generations! This may also be the only field camp you go to, if you get posted to an administrative role after BMT.
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