You’re going to enlist soon for your National Service (NS) and you’re wondering what life will be like within Pulau Tekong. What exactly will your typical day be during your Basic Military Training (BMT)?
As an ex-NSF, I’m here to tell you everything you need to know!
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Depending on your pre-enlistee Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) results, Body Mass Index (BMI) and PES status, you will be enlisted into various durations of BMT. The difference in time periods are to train recruits for the expected physical fitness. Every recruit will still undergo the same training schedule of BMT events, just on a different timeline.
These are the 9 different low-key and high-key events that will be conducted:
- Route Marches
- Standard Obstacle Course (SOC)
- Weapon presentation
- Basic Trainfire Package (BTP)
- Hand grenade throwing
- Field Camp
- Close Quarter Battle (CQB)
- Battle Inoculation Course (BIC)
This may seem like a lot of events for such a short period. Do not worry, as there will be progressive training planned before you hit all your milestones! This is through regimentation and physical activities throughout the day, from morning until lights out.
The typical morning in Tekong usually begins at 5am for waking up at reveille. All recruits will fall in at the parade square at around 5:15am. Should you require more time in the morning, do set your alarm clocks earlier!
The morning then includes the Prehabilitation Exercise (PX). This used to be called the 5 Basic Exercises (5BX), and it usually takes about five-to-ten minutes to complete all the sets. Depending on your company’s commanders, they may conduct a short, slow run as well. The PX consists of:
- Mountain climbers
- Forward lunges
- Alternate arm
- Leg raises
- Other exercises
Recruits will then be marched to the cookhouse to queue for their meals. This can take some time as there are many recruits in the camp from other company lines. You will be required to scan your identity card for your meals and roughly 10-15 minutes to consume your breakfast.
First Parade is usually conducted after breakfast. It is a military procession for the accounting of strength before the day begins. Afterwards, there will usually be physical activity and an auditorium dialogue. This will be based on the training schedule of the day. The intensity of the physical conduct will slowly increase as there is a progressive training program.
The conduct can sometimes be rotated depending on weather and facilities.
These are some of the various physical conducts you will go through:
- Ability Group Run (AGR)
- Cadence run
- Metabolic circuit
- Strength and Power (S&P)
- Speed, Agility and Quickness (SAQ)
- Basic Close Combat Training (BCCT)
During the auditorium dialogue, here are some of the possible talks you will sit through:
- Military lectures
- National Education
- Officer Commanding (OC) dialogue
- Navy / Air Force talk
- Insurance talk
- SAFRA membership talk
Usually, the physical conducts will be held near your company line or in the parade square, while the talks tend to be in an air-conditioned auditorium.
There is a roughly fixed time at around 1pm for lunch. Similar to all mealtimes in BMT, your platoon will be staggered in timings for meals to prevent congestion at the cookhouse. Oftentimes, your platoon might still need to wait after marching to the cookhouse due to the amount of recruits in the camp.
The food in Tekong tends to be quite bland, but will fill you up enough for the day. It usually consists of rice with two types of meat, one vegetable and soup. There will be mildly flavoured water along with fruits as well. While Tekong food generally does not taste nice, the western food is at least a change in palate during the midweek.
Another physical training will be conducted after lunch. The training may be pushed back to a later timing depending on the weather category. As these training sessions tend to be under the hot afternoon sun, remember to keep safe!
Any additional time may also be used for completing the compulsory LEARNet quizzes on the issued laptops. This can be extremely time-consuming as you would need to hit a certain number of marks to pass. You may need to repeatedly redo the quizzes to attain the required percentage. The laptops can also be used to surf the internet, but there is restricted access as it is mainly used for online learning.
However, if you work with your bunk mates, everyone can clear the quizzes quicker.
Dinner time will be around 6pm in the evening. There is no difference in meals in comparison to lunch as well. You may need to get used to the cookhouse food as the ingredients are always the same and rotated. However, you will get hungry easily due to training and recruits are always looking forward to meal times!
Especially towards the beginning of BMT, there will be quite a lot of lectures. After dinner, commanders may usher recruits into the auditorium again for another talk. Take note to stay awake during these talks as commanders are strict on paying respect to the speaker. Commanders enforce this by making the recruits seated around the sleeping individual stand up for the entire talk, as a way of punishment. This is very effective as you would not want your buddies to get ‘tekan’ed’ for something they did not do.
Personally, I would pass time by sketching on my notebook.
Last Parade would then be held to end the day. This is where commanders will brief you on the Routine Orders (RO). The RO is the timeline of events of the next day. While each timing may differ for each company, a typical BMT RO will look like this:
|0730||Metabolic Circuit (Physical Activity)|
|1600||Swimming (Physical Activity)|
Administrative time is the little pockets of time you will have in-between training. As you progress through your service, you will slowly have more admin time as you get things done more systematically. Try to gauge your breaks before the next activity to minimise your time spent doing preparation work. I personally used the short breaks to take a quick nap.
For some unknown reason, these naps tend to be the best naps you will ever have!
Recruits will also go through a Force Preparation before any event. It is a process in which all soldiers lay out their necessary equipment for commanders to check its condition. Everyone will be in a high-kneel position as they are to lay their items in a specific order in front of them. The in-charge will then call out each individual packing list item as the recruits raise it up for inspection. As a result, the admin time tends to be used to prepare equipment for the upcoming low or high-key events.
This is a very long process as everyone is checked for individual packing list items. You can speed up the process by helping your section mates have their equipment in order.
There will be some time given before lights out to shower and do laundry. You will not be allowed to book out with dirty laundry because commanders want to train the soldiers to be independent from home. As the entire platoon shares two bathrooms, there tends to be a queue formed to use the shower cubicles. You can plan out a simple bathroom schedule with your platoon to rotate laundry and shower timings.
Try not to hold up the queue when showering so your platoon mates can do so before lights out!
Lights out refers to the time everyone is expected to sleep. Bunk lights are to be turned off and no usage of mobile phones are allowed. There will be commanders making their rounds among the bunks to ensure all recruits are sleeping. This is to ensure a full seven hours of uninterrupted rest, as stipulated by the Army Safety programs.
BMT has a very packed schedule, with the low and high-key events recruits are required to go through. Oftentimes, it can get quite intensive due to the route matches needed. However, you are never alone in these times and you will have your platoon mates to rely on.
Remember to pace yourself and BMT will be a breeze!
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