Is BMT Worse Than Unit Life? (2 Examples)

BMT vs Unit Life

Has BMT been a tough journey for you?

You may have heard some people say that BMT is the ‘worst part of NS‘, and that your unit life will be better.

However, others may have mentioned that your unit life maybe even worse than BMT!

We’ve got 2 of our writers to share their experiences in comparing their BMT and unit experiences, and here’s what you need to know:

Nicholas (3SG, Infantry, PES B1)

Physical Activities

Physical Training (PT) conducts were more or less the same in BMT and in my unit. There were usually about two conducts daily. Transitioning from BMT to the unit, PTs were different for me with the added intensity and varying exercises. Combat circuits were done in full gear with heavier field pack loads, and metabolic circuits had additional exercise stations to complete.

Frequency of going outfield

There was definitely more outfield training in my unit as compared to BMT. As we had to go through the infantry training phase and the Army Training Evaluation Centre (ATEC) stages in my unit, that meant going outfield added up to roughly twice a month. This being said, some outfield durations can last only about a day to complete training, while the BMT field camp lasts longer.

Amount of admin time

Personally, I felt that there was much more admin time in my unit than in BMT. While most conducts ended around evening for both, time after the 6pm dinner spent in BMT consisted of a lot of lessons or talks by commanders.

In my unit, there were significantly fewer lessons as we had already adjusted to military life. This meant less time spent preparing for the next day, and more time spent resting.

Frequency of booking out

The frequency of booking out remained the same in unit after BMT, as I was in a stay-in unit. We followed the same weekly book-ins and book-outs throughout. While there were more holidays and Off-In-Lieus in unit due to the duration, as a 3SG we had increased regular camp orderly duties as compared to being in BMT.

This took place on weekends which was similar to the BMT confinement of two weeks or weekend guard duties.

Other factors

Another factor that is different in unit vs BMT was the regimentation. As a section commander, the unit command team would tend to allow soldiers more leeway in day-to-day activities as long as discipline and work is still upheld.

This includes the occasional nights-out allowed, perhaps as a reward for achieving Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) Gold.

In BMT, recruits are more carefully monitored as they are still adjusting to military life.

BMTUnit
Physical ActivitiesTwice a day
Standard basic exercises
Twice a day
Increased intensity
Added exercises
Frequency of going outfieldOnly towards the first field campRoughly twice a month
Amount of admin timeLess time due to added lessons by commandersMore time due to adjustment of military life
Frequency of booking out5 days in-camp
Camp duties
5 days in-camp
Camp duties
RegimentationMore enforced
Strictly monitored
Added expectations that come with added liberty

Isaac (LCP, Army Intelligence / Reconnaissance, PES B1 during service, B4 after ORD)

Physical Activities

Overall, the amount of physical activity that I had in my unit was more or less the samebeing around 2 physical training (PT) sessions per day in both unit and BMT.

However, the PT sessions in unit were definitely more diverse as compared to BMT. In BMT, my PT sessions usually revolved around body weight & core exercises (pushups, planks, russian twists, etc.) and running (fartleks, distance intervals) – the typical exercises you would expect.

And in unit, we had the same exercises, and a few more. As a Reconnaissance unit, we were expected to be able to carry heavy weights while trekking in the jungle – translating into numerous weight lifting sessions per week, to increase our physical strength. 

Other additional physical activities that we also had, include:

  • Stretching sessions – to improve our mobility and flexibility
  • Metabolic circuits – which were interval trainings incorporated with resistance training
  • Combat circuits – PT sessions with our alice pack, ILBV (Load Bearing Vest), helmet and M16 rifle
  • Swimming – usually used as a form of active recovery a day after our night-time route marches
  • Water polo – same purpose as swimming

“As such, the range of physical activities done in my unit, was definitely a lot greater than what I experienced in BMT.”

In a way, this was largely due to the physical requirements of my unit being vastly different from BMTwhere my unit really required us to be of a higher physical standard to carry out our duties.

Frequency of going outfield

Hailing from Reconnaissance, I undoubtedly went outfield a lot more in unit as compared to BMT. In BMT, everyone will only have 1 outfield experiencewhich is the one usually held in the 4th or 5th week. And the amount that you have in unit will depend on your vocation.

“As we were recon, outfield was quite a norm for us – especially during our Reconnaissance Trooper Course (RTC), where we obtained our recon tab.” (pullquote)

During our RTC, we went outfield almost twice every week for 6 weeks. But fortunately, most of them were one day navigation exercises (NAVEX) that began early in the morning and ending close to midnight.

But outside of RTC, we would usually have outfield exercises around twice every 2-3 months but this was ultimately dependant on whether we had rotational assessments coming up.

“Rotational assessments refers to the evaluation of your units skills and capabilities by external assessors from the Army Training Evaluation Center (ATEC).” (pullquote)

When we had rotational assessments coming up, the number of outfields were bumped up to around 1-2 every 2 weeks. This was to ensure that we were well-versed in our outfield standard operating procedures (SOPs).

SOPs for us, included:

  • Usage of specialized equipment – such as thermal imagers, night-vision equipment etc.
  • Signaling protocols – which include proper communicating procedures and formats when signaling over the radio
  • Fire Movement drills – how to react when hit by enemy fire
  • Surveillance protocols – proper steps to take when surveying a location and the appropriate way of relaying findings

As such, the frequency of outfields was definitely higher for me in unit, as compared to BMT.

Amount of admin time

In general, I would say that in the first 6 months to a year of being in a unit, your admin time will be around the same as what you got in BMT – but it does depend on your unit of course.

For me, the first 3 months of being in unit was really busy and the amount of admin time I got was actually slightly less than what I had in BMT of around 2 hours everyday.

“This being due to the intense focus on preparing for us for our RTC, resulting in us being overloaded with PT sessions, lectures and technical handling sessions for our wide variety of equipment.” (pullquote)

And this only got even worse during our RTC, which was a literal mad rush. Our days usually started at 5.30am and ended around 8pm, with little to no admin time after 8pm – as we often had to prepare our field packs for the upcoming outfield in the following morning.

Upon returning back to unit after RTC, our hectic times continued for around 2-3 months to prepare for our 1st rotational assessment. 

As such, the amount of admin time we had really didn’t differ much from BMT and was sometimes even lesser, for the 1st 8 months of being in unit. However, this eventually took a turn for the better and the amount of admin time we had slowly increased – to around 4 hours everyday.

This being due to that, by the end of our 1st year of NS, we had already completed most of trainings, thus we really only had refreshers to do for the majority of the time. 

“This meant that we usually had quite a chunk of personal time after each PT session everyday, allowing us to do our own things – like sleep” (pullquote)

To summarize, the amount of admin time I got in my 1st 8 months of being in unit was around the same or sometimes less than what I got in BMT. However, after that period, the amount of admin time I had slowly increased, being more than the amount in BMT.

Frequency of booking out

The frequency of booking out was exactly the same for me, in both unit and BMT. As my vocation was the standard stay-in vocation, I was not blessed to book out during the evening everyday. 

As such like BMT, I continued to book out once every Friday, around the late afternoon and booked in every Sunday night by 10pm. 

Frequency of guard duty

If you were lucky like me, you probably wouldn’t have done any guard duty during BMT. However, in unit, do expect to be doing a whole bunch of guard dutywhich means either booking out late or booking in a day earlier. 

In unit, guard duty was such a norm for us, that sometimes we wondered if we had somehow switched vocations to being the gate guardians of Pasir Laba Camp. We usually had at least 1 duty every month and our record was 2 duties in a single month.

“While this might not sound like a lot, you have to remember that each month is basically 4 bookouts – having 1 duty meant that 25% of your bookouts were shortened.” (pullquote)

As these were usually unfortunately weekend duties, we would usually either book out almost 2 days late or book in a day early.

To make sense of this, here is a table summarizing the differences between Saturday and Sunday duty:

Day of DutyDurationBookout dayBook in dayAmount of bookout time
Saturday24 hours (From Saturday 6.30am to Sunday 6.30am)Sunday morning 8am – as you are not allowed to bookout on FridaySunday night 10pmAround 12 hours
Sunday24 hours (From Sunday 6.30am to Monday 6.30am)Friday AfternoonSaturday Night 10pmAround 1.5 days

So from the table, you can probably see why we hate weekend duties and specifically – the accursed Saturday duty.

As such, in unit, I really did experience an exponential increase in the frequency of guard duty, as compared to BMT.

Summary

BMTUnit Life
Physical activitiesStandardized focus on bodyweight & core exercises and runningWider range of activities
Similar focus on bodyweight &
core exercises and running
Additional forms of physical activity – circuit
training, weight lifting, swimming, stretching
Frequency of outfields1 time in BMTDepends on if rotational assessment is coming up
No assessment – 2 times every 2-3 months
Assessment – 1-2 every 2 weeks
Amount of admin timeAround 2 hours everydayFor 1st 8 months
Also around 2 hours everyday but also sometimes less than 2 hours
After 8 month period
Around 4 hours of admin time per day
Frequency of booking outOnce every week on Friday, with book in being on SundayOnce every week on Friday, with
book in being on Sunday
Frequency of guard duty0 guard dutiesAround 1 guard duty per month – sometimes 2 per month

Conclusion

The difference between your BMT and unit life will really depend on the unit that you go to. For example, you are posted to an infantry vocation, there are chances that you may have to go outfield often.

As such, you may want to look around for information about your unit before you get posted there!

If you would like to contribute your NS experiences to the website, you can fill up this form here.


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Gideon

Blogging is my newfound passion, and I want to solve everyday problems you may have with the content I create.

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