The Life of A Storeman – Through My Eyes

Storeman NS

If you’re going to serve your National Service, chances are, you’ve probably heard of the storeman vocation, as most full-time NSmen will inevitably interact with storemen at some point. 

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However, since these interactions are usually brief, most of you may be curious as to what life is like behind the storeroom doors

I’ve had the opportunity to speak with someone who has experienced the storeman life in NS, and here’s what you need to know:

What does a storeman do during NS?

Storemen, or Supply Assistants (SAs), are involved in a wide variety of administrative tasks relating to logistics operations within the Singapore Armed Forces.

Life as a background character

The way I like to explain this to people I know is by comparing myself to a background character in a film, or more realistically, a mix between a warehouse assistant and an administrative staff. Storemen can be assigned to do any combination of the following regularly:

Storage

  • Accounting for the usability and the quantity of items ranging from boxes of blue pens to entire vehicles.
  • Moving store items to and from storerooms.
  • Scheduling and organizing transport operations to move items.
  • Throwing dirty laundry into a truck and collecting/packing clean laundry.
  • Drawing and holding keys. Lots of keys.

Building maintenance

  • Assisting contractors in building maintenance.
  • Ensuring Fire Extinguishers are safety pressurised.
  • Laminating and printing posters to paste around your building.

Operations

  • Assist in official fitness conducts as marshallers and by preparing ice packs.
  • Outfield operations involving setting up watering points, delivering petrol for the vehicles and issuing arms.
  • Camouflage vehicles and collect/distribute rations.

I must say, out of all these tasks, I mostly did accounting and moving of store materials. I personally hated throwing the laundry as it was quite gross, and I guarantee you’ll be surprised at how heavy bundles of bedsheets and blankets can be! 

Combat vs Service

In general, storemen are separated into combat SA and service SA. Most combat SAs are PES-fit, ranging from PES A to B4, with most service SAs being PES C2 to E9. I was a service SA myself, and felt really lucky to not have to stay-in on nights and also to be able to skip going on outfields.

CombatService
Unit AllocationActive Combat units, Overseas attachment.Combat Service/Service Support units, Any of the 5 Supply Bases.
Working most immediately withActive Combatants.In-Camp Training, Trainees/Cadets, Service support staff, External Contractors.
Carrying heavy itemsYesMostly yes, but it depends.
Outfield Operations?YesNo

You can find out more about the different PES statuses below:

How do I become a storeman in NS?

The two best ways to become a storeman in NS is to make sure you are PES C2 and below, or OOC (Out-of-course) in your vocational training/command school phase as a trainee or a cadet. I myself was PES C2 and below, and went through the modified Basic Military Training at Kranji Camp.

Most of the time, once you OOC, you will be streamlined into either doing clerical or store duties. For combat supply assistants, the intake is rare, so chances are that if you’re combat fit, you will be called up to other vocations.

Can’t I opt in before enlisting? 

In your pre-enlistment procedure, there is an option to indicate your interest in vocations across the SAF. Under the service support section, you have the option to select Logistics.

However, I’ve not heard of any examples of the answers on that form actually affecting posting results. Most likely, you will either be assigned or selected.

Where do storemen train to attain their vocation?

Storemen are trained at the Supply and Transport School in Sembawang Camp in the month-long Supply Assistant Course where they learn about the basics of storeman work. The Course was considerably tiring, though it was mostly parades, waiting, and route lessons that made up the exhaustion. The course is mostly stay-in, but being non-combat fit, it was very simple for myself to apply for stay-out. As such, most of my admin time was outside camp on the way home, and during that 1 month period I read voraciously.

Am I able to stay out as a storeman?

As a service storeman, I was a stay-out serviceman in Sungei Gedong Camp. This meant that once training supplies were handed over to the reservist personnel and store upkeep was complete, there was no need to stay beyond office hours.

Service storemen will usually be posted to one of four supply bases (Supply base North, East, West, Central) or a support unit which will mean a stay-out life. The few exceptions include the nightmare posting to BMTC Schools 1-3, where you will probably have to stay-in due to training demands. I had a friend who was posted there. I’m not sure how much of his story he would be comfortable with me sharing, but trust me when I say he had the worst time of his life there.

As a combat storeman, you will most likely be stay-out personnel with few exceptions.

Look forward to overseas postings though, since you’ll most likely get amazing pay and a unique NS experience!

What’s the difference between a storeman and a clerk during NS?

Usually, clerks are under the Manpower branch of their unit, meaning that they handle finances, processing promotions and other human resource duties. 

There are clerks that also handle supply and logistical matters, and in those cases, storemen handle administrative tasks on the ground like the physical moving and counting of items whereas clerks handle the ordering and scheduling of delivery/servicing.

Conclusion

In general, if you’re going to be a storeman, make sure to get your Bluetooth headphones, your safety gloves and your portable charger ready because just like the rest of the army, we operate on a “wait to rush, rush to wait” basis.

Jokes aside, just like most real world logistics, as a storeman you will have the unique opportunity of interacting with pretty much everyone. 

In the SAF, that means:

  • Planning
  • Operations
  • Manpower
  • Finance
  • Transport
  • Maintenance
  • Combatants
  • Signallers

as well as external logistics contractors. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful people from all parts of the puzzle and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I’ve also been all around the country on store runs, and some of my fondest memories in uniform involve loading in the last box of field rations into the tonner, and climbing aboard the rumbly ride back to my unit. 

Logistics is, after all, the science of making plans work. That’s far from easy work, and the job can be very physically draining at times. 

Moreover, since our duties aren’t considered to be intensive training, it can be on you to take care of yourself while working as training guidelines may not apply. 

I mean, who else looks out for the background character?

My one tip today as a storeman, is to really fight for your breaks and make sure you’re only consenting to doing operations safely.


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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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