What You Need To Know About The Infantry Vocation (NS)

Infantry Vocation NS

You’ve heard your buddies hoping that they don’t get posted to the infantry after Basic Military Training (BMT). Yet, you still wonder what life is like as an infanteer. 

As an infantry section commander who was enlisted into the mono-intake, here’s what you need to know:

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How do I get into the infantry vocation?

There will be a survey to indicate your vocational interest during the pre-enlistment medical screening. Usually, this is done after the psychometric test on a computer listing the various vocations you may prefer. For my test, I selected a majority of the options stated including the infantry. All recruits then go through the same BMT before getting assigned to their vocations. 

Depending on the SAF’s vocational needs and your PES status, you may be posted to the infantry!

You can find out more about checking your PES status here.

After BMT, you will be notified of your posting and reporting camp. Beyond being an infantry trooper, you might be selected to go to Officer Cadet School (OCS) or Specialist Cadet School (SCS). All cadets will then go through a term of infantry training as it is the most fundamental form within the SAF.

You will then be posted to your vocation in the respective school’s Professional Term.

There are many forms of infantry within the SAF. Each battalion specialises in unique roles while training in conventional warfare. Here are some variations you may be posted to:

  • Infantry Trooper
  • Motorised Infantry Trooper
  • Armoured Infantry Trooper
  • Security Trooper

Infantry Trooper

The conventional infantry trooper is part of the largest formation in the SAF. This is typically called the light infantry due to the weight comparison to the motorised infantry. There are various roles in an infantry battalion, each having their specific weapon systems.

However, this does not mean an easy journey as you will be the one carrying the heavy load to trek to the mission objective.

Motorised Infantry Trooper

The SAF is converting their light infantry battalions toward the motorised infantry. To conserve the energy of the soldiers, the motorised infantry ride the SAF’s Terrax to the objective. This is significantly easier than bashing through the thick forest on foot over long distances.

During your National Service (NS), you will train as both light and motorised infantry.

Armoured Infantry Trooper

The armoured infantry troopers don the black beret of the armour vocation. They are part of the armour vocation in the SAF and fight alongside tanks to overcome the enemy. Similar to the light infantry, there are different roles with various weapon systems.

While armour is typically known for their tanks and firepower, the armoured infantry tread the line between mounted and dismounted warfare.

These troopers undergo the typical infantry training, along with the added preparation for the vehicles.

Security Trooper

Security troopers in the SAF specialise in protection of installations (POI) for SAF and key civilian installations. 8SIR does security for the various camps in Singapore during the day to allow soldiers to train within. 

These troopers work hand in hand with the Military Police to ensure the security of the camp and soldiers going in and out.

The night duties are covered by the in-camp personnel.

9SIR plays a special role in Singapore by protecting key civilian installations such as Changi Airport, Jurong Island and Sembawang Wharves. These troopers are also trained in conventional/urban warfare when they are not on the POI operations cycle. 

Currently, 9SIR functions as a mono-intake, which means a majority of their troopers are enlisted into BMT to train as security troopers from the beginning.

However, there are still chances of getting posted to this unit after your typical BMT!

The security troopers have significantly less outfields as compared to the regular infantry units. They will usually take on island defence roles for their reservist cycles.

Which camps will I go to for the infantry vocation?

These are the various camp locations for the respective infantry regiments:

BattalionLocation
1SIRMandai Hill Camp
2SIRKranji Camp III
3SIRSelarang Camp
5SIRKranji Camp III
8SIRClementi Camp
9SIRMaju Camp

What is life like in the infantry vocation?

Most would call getting posted to the infantry ‘chiong sua’. As this is Hokkien lingo for charging up the hill, you can imagine how tiring this vocation is!

Infantry is usually a stay-in vocation. This means you will stay in the camp for 5 days and book out on the weekends. This may seem daunting as compared to stay-out vocations. On the bright side, you will save a significant amount on transport and food within these two years.

Your two years in an infantry unit would be to build up towards the Army Training Evaluation Centre (ATEC) evaluation to test your battalion’s operational readiness. This will come in outfield stages until your Operationally Ready Date (ORD).

While there are multiple outfield training periods, most of the time would be spent training in-camp doing physical fitness conducts. Similar to BMT, there will be many route marches with heavier loads. There will also be another similar build-up exercise called hill training. This usually entails climbing stairs with full gear to train for uphill terrains.

You are trained to be physically fit to carry out your role within an infantry section.

Some battalions have the opportunity to train overseas for a few weeks. This means travelling to another country and staying at their military camps to train. Something to look forward to is the Rest and Recreation (R&R) at the end of the overseas exercise to explore the country as a tourist.

Personally, I have trained in Taiwan during my time in SCS, and it was fun due to the cold weather!

Depending on the timeline of your unit’s training programme, you may have the chance to train within a foreign country.

Some of these countries include:

  • Taiwan
  • United States of America
  • Australia

Organisation

A typical infantry rifle section consists of 6-8 troopers and one section commander. Within the section are various roles trained in their respective weapon systems. The roles are assigned by the commanders based on individual strength and weaknesses.

A section consists of:

Section GroupingRoles
Group 1Section Commander
Grenadier
MATADOR Operator/Rifleman
Group 2MATADOR Operator/Sharpshooter
Light Machine Gunner
Group 3Section Second-in-Command
Light Machine Gunner

3-4 sections then come together to form a platoon. 3-4 platoons make a company, and 3-4 companies will form a battalion.

What tips are there to survive the infantry vocation?

Here are some tips to get through life in the infantry:

  1. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable
  2. Make friends
  3. Enjoy the journey

#1 Get comfortable with the uncomfortable

There are going to be tough times spent in the jungle. You will feel uncomfortable during outfields over long periods in the elements. Getting used to the elements is physically and mentally hard, but not impossible. Remember that you are with fellow buddies and the outfield will end sooner than you think!

I recommend doing even the littlest things that bring you comfort such as changing into a fresh set of socks daily.

#2 Make friends

The friends you make in the infantry are the ones you will remember for a long time. This is the brotherhood bond that is rarely made outside the camp walls. After all, knowing that you are not alone in these tough times can make it seem enjoyable.

#3 Enjoy the journey

During my time in the infantry, I have seen a different side of Singapore that I would not have seen. The different terrains of restricted SAF training areas are an eye-opener. Do enjoy the time spent outdoors and worry less about the hardships during training.

The infantry will bring you to locations with tall hills and hidden reservoirs that civilians do not usually have access to.

Conclusion

As an infanteer, I’ve never regretted my time spent in NS. It was an interesting passage with people from all walks of life coming together to serve. I personally believe the stories that come from the infantry are always the best!

Enjoy the journey with your brothers in arms, and remember to have fun!


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Nicholas

Hello, I'm a designer. When I'm not working I love sketching architecture and learning new concepts!

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