As a combat fit soldier of the Singapore Armed Forces, there will be many basic military skills imparted to you during your BMT – to ensure that you are ever ready if the need arises.
Skills can range from the weapon handling of your wife – the SAR 21 – to basic close combat training. However, the topic for today’s discussion is neither of them and instead, we will be talking about IFC.
If you’re new to all the army lingo, you probably don’t know what IFC stands for.
Well, in this case, IFC does not refer to the trading market but a set of military skills known as Individual Field Craft. So, now that you know what IFC stands for, let me share with you what it encompasses.
What exactly is IFC?
As mentioned above, IFC stands for Individual Field Craft and from the name, you can probably tell that it is a more self-orientated set of skills. If I were to briefly summarize it as a phrase for easy understanding, I would say that it is “the fundamentals of being a soldier”.
Examples of skills that you will learn include:
- camouflaging skills
- field observation skills
- tactical movement
They may all sound pretty foreign to you as a newcomer, but not to worry, each of them will be individually explained in the following section – along with a few other not-yet mentioned ones.
As such, you can probably see why I say that they are your soldiering fundamentals and this holds true – whether you’re in BMT, unit or Command School (Post-BMT).
You can find out more about SCS here.
What are the components of IFC?
The IFC can be broken down into many separate skill sets that you will be tested on during your 4D3N camping trip – AKA field camp.
#1 Camouflaging skills
This is arguably the most important skill to have during a firefight and my reasoning for this is?
There is literally no point to learning how to use a gun if you’re going to get spotted by an enemy and get shot before you even have a chance to fire back.
So yes, learning how to look like a good watermelon is important.
Usually, you will learn how to do this before your field camp – but if you’re unlucky like me – you might also just learn it 2 hours before your field camp. Then during your field camp, you will then be assessed on your camouflaging abilities.
Our task was pretty straightforward: Hide in the vegetation and not get spotted by the assessor standing 5m away from the vegetation. We were basically playing “Where’s Waldo?” except this time – we were Waldo and there were 15 Waldos.
It was a pretty funny experience I will admit, seeing 14 other guys stuff branches & leaves into their ILBVs and wearing vines to try and hide from the eyes of the assessor. We looked just like that green monster from SpongeBob.
A final thing to note is that the whole assessment also lasted for 5 minutes which meant we had to stay still for 5 mins – even if anything started to crawl on us.
#2 Field Observation Skills
Field Observation skills sound pretty self-explanatory and it is!
It involves drawing on your range card (above) what you see in your surroundings – based on your arc of fire.
Don’t worry, you won’t be expected to draw Mona Lisa level drawings on your range card – but instead, what you need to focus on, is drawing pronounced landmarks which can be used to map the surroundings.
Something along these lines, but a lot simpler as the SAF-issued range card is not as in-depth as this one pictured.
#3 Tactical Movement – AKA Ninja Training
This is definitely the easiest skill to understand and it involves learning how to properly step in the jungle to minimize the sound made. This includes which part of your feet to plant first while walking and certain types of foliage that you should avoid stepping on.
Other than that, you will also learn the different types of positions that you can take up to move tactically from one position to another – such as the baby crawl, leopard crawl, etc.
#4 Fire Movement Drills
This will be a major component of your IFC assessment. Fire movement drills refer to the different sets of actions that you should do when you are contacted by enemy fire – or to be simply put, get shot at.
The purpose of learning these fire movement drills is to teach you how to quickly take aim with your rifle in various positions when you get shot at – so that you can return fire. Positions include turning (left or right), going prone, kneeling or just standing.
Like the assessment for camouflaging, mine might slightly differ from yours, but ultimately, they still serve the same purpose.
For my assessment, we were first split into groups of 4. After that, we were then individually assigned a specific drill to do when we got “shot at”.
This cycle of being assigned a drill and then being assessed for that drill was repeated 4 times till we each had done one of every single drill.
#5 Digging of Shell scrape
Last and certainly, the thing that you will dread the most – digging of the shell scrape. There is nothing in the field camp that can compare to the digging of the shell scrape, in terms of physical demand.
If you don’t know what a shell scrape is, it refers to a trench made for one. It is usually around knee to mid-thigh deep in height and slightly longer than your body length.
The digging of your shell scrape will be done individually and your only equipment of choice is the ET blade and stick (above).
Based on my experience, the digging of the shell scrape can go 2 ways – (A) Really Easy or (B) Really Tough. There is no in-between.
For those who are fortunate enough to get option (A), you probably were lucky enough to dig your shell scrape in a region where other recruits had also recently dug their shell scrape. If you didn’t know, different BMT companies have their field camps at staggered timings – some going before the others.
So usually what happens is that after you dig your shell scrape, you will then be required to close it back. If some lucky individual was then tasked to dig a shell scrape in that same spot you dug, he would have a pretty easy time, as the soil had already been loosened by you!
And if you’re as unlucky like me, you will get option (B). My platoon was probably the most unlucky one as the region we were tasked to dig in, not only had non-loosened soil BUT also tree roots.
Suffice to say, most of us went with the latter option as cutting off tree roots with a blunt ET blade and stick was probably more tiring than restarting our shell scrape.
So after your shell scrape is dug, your Enciks or Platoon Commanders will then walk the grounds to assess each of your masterpieces. If it doesn’t meet their expectations, they will tell you to ‘Semula‘ and unfortunately, you will then be required to continue digging – instead of resting.
Do I need to pass IFC for BMT?
Passing the IFC assessment is one of the requirements for passing out from BMT. If you miss your field camp (and thus IFC), you will be sent for a re-IFC with another company before you POP.
But not to worry, it is close to impossible to fail your IFC, from what I’ve seen. During the IFC assessment for each individual skill, assessors will usually ask you to re-do each assessment till you meet the passing criteria – if you do badly.
As such, unless you put in so little effort that the assessors give up on you, you don’t have to worry about failing your IFC!
Tips for IFC
Here are tips that I’ve learnt from my friends and my own experience!
#1 Shellscrape Tips
Use momentum when digging! When you dig in, it is important to swing forward with your body to give your ET blade a little more OOMPH when striking the ground. But obviously, do also engage your shoulders at the same time, if not, you might just dislocate both your arms.
Additionally, try to also keep a constant rhythm and momentum as it makes digging the shell scrape a lot easier as compared to pausing after each strike of the ground.
However, if you are too tired to keep a constant rhythm and opt to go for single blows, use your boots to push the ET blade deeper into the ground before you pull out the soil.
This might only allow you to dig out just slightly more amount of soil but a little definitely goes a long way.
#2 Shout Like Your Life Depends On It
During the execution of the fire movement drills, you will be required to shout out your actions as you do them. The reasoning behind this is that it is very important to ensure that your buddies beside you, are aware of what you’re doing in the event of a firefight.
Being able to account for your buddies during a firefight makes sure that none are left behind and as the army saying goes “Leave no man behind“.
As such, during your assessment for the fire movement drills, shout like your life depends on it. With all the blanks being fired, it’s often hard to be heard if you don’t shout loud enough.
I watched my buddy beside me repeat the standing-to-prone drill twice with his field pack on just because he wasn’t being loud enough. With how tiring the entirety of field camp is, I highly suggest trying to avoid this.
Ending it off, the skills that you pick up from IFC will be important for you both in BMT and post-BMT – that is if you go to a combat vocation of course.
As such, do try to learn all of them well so that they won’t be any trouble for you in the future. Hopefully, I’ve been able to share with you tips and knowledge you haven’t heard before.
All the best with your IFC assessments!
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