If you’ve found your way onto this article, I would assume that you probably just received an SMS from CMPB regarding your PES status. I was in your shoes once too, looking at the screen and concerningly wondering – “what does PES B1 even mean? ”.
Considering that National Service was going to take up 2 years of my life, I did want to know what was going to be installed for me and I guess you are too!
As the description from CMPB might not be able to tell you much – I hope that I can help to shed some light based on personal experiences!
What is the PES status?
To describe to you what PES B1 entails for you or the differences between the various PES statuses, will be slightly difficult without first briefly introducing what the PES status is.
As such, the PES status is essentially the result of your medical assessment.
The significance of the PES status lies in its role as being one of the key considerations in determining the vocation that you will be assigned to post-BMT (Basic Military Training).
So with that brief look on how your PES status is assigned – what does PES B1 mean then?
What is PES B1?
PES B1 is probably the most common PES status that you will hear be assigned to you or your peers. This is due to most of us being medically fit and not suffering from any debilitating conditions that would greatly affect our performance in NS.
In other words, you passed your medical assessment with flying colours.
This means that you are medically fit to be assigned to any combat vocation within the army.
What’s the difference between PES B1 and A?
Looking at the image, you would see that both PES B1 and A are classified together. The reason for this is that there is actually not much difference between the two.
The vocations that you can go to or the army regimentation that you will be put through is generally the same between both PES statuses.
There are popular suggestions as to what determines your PES status between A or B1 such as having any minor medical history. However, there are discrepancies to this suggestion as there are cases where people with conditions were assigned PES A.
Nonetheless, I would say that being assigned PES B1 instead of A does not put you at a disadvantage. You will still be able to enlist into specialised vocations such as Commandos (CDO) if you’re interested in that.
For example, you will be required to undergo a vocational assessment test before enlistment if you are being shortlisted for CDO. There you will undergo a string of physical fitness tests, a few written tests and finally, an interview.
The vocational assessments are not limited exclusively to PES A pre-enlistees. As a PES B1 NSF, I was still called up to attend the vocational assessment.
Furthermore, being PES A does not guarantee that you will be shortlisted for vocations such as CDO or NDU – as there are ultimately many unknown underlying factors too!
Thus, I would say that in my opinion, the difference between PES B1 and A is quite negligible and nothing to harp over for sure!
What’s the difference between PES B1 and B2?
While the difference between PES B1 and A is pretty negligible, it’s a whole different story between PES B1 and B2.
These differences can be broken down into 3 key points:
- Difference in Length of Service
- Ability to go to Command School
- Possible Vocations
Differences in Length of Service
2 years of NS is definitely a long time and I’m sure that many of us would gladly reduce that duration if we could. If you’re assigned to PES B1 or A, you’re in luck!
Being assigned to either of those PES statuses will make you eligible for the Pre-Enlistee IPPT. If you attain 61 or more points during that IPPT, you will enjoy an 8-week reduction in your NS duration – effectively shortening your service from 2 years to 1 year & 10 months (approx. 669 days).
2 months is almost 10% of your entire NS duration so if you haven’t gotten your 61 points yet – what are you waiting for?
Note: If you do decide to give the IPPT another attempt, they are conducted strictly based on appointments only. Bookings can be made on the NS portal.
Unfortunately, if you’re assigned to PES B2, you will not be able to enjoy this 8-week reduction in service period as the “Pre-Enlistee IPPT offer” is not open to you.
As such, you will be required to serve the entire 2 years of NS if you’re PES B2 as opposed to the shortened duration of 1 year & 10 months if you’re PES B1 (given that you clear your IPPT).
Ability to go Command School
Going to Command School seems to be the goal of many Singaporean guys in NS and unfortunately, if you’re assigned to PES B2 – Command School will not be open to you. This is due to PES B2 personnels not undergoing the Situational Test (SIT), which is a requirement for command school.
Furthermore, the BMT experience for PES B2 individuals is different from the BMT experience of PES B1 individuals. Differences include:
|PES B1||PES B2|
|SOC requirement||Required||Not Required|
|Route march distance||Up to 24km||Up to 10km|
Even if you do manage to up-PES during BMT, it will still be highly unlikely for you to be posted to OCS/SCS.
Being assigned to PES B2 will give you much lesser options, in terms of vocations, that you can be posted to as opposed to a PES B1 individual. As a PES B2, you will not be able to get posted to Combat units such as CDO, NDU and Guards.
There is still a chance that you may be posted to a Combat unit such as Infantry, albeit the chances would be lower as compared to if you were PES B1.
Thus, your life might be less ‘xiong’ as compared to a PES B1, which is good if you are looking for that. However, if you do feel like you want a shot at the tougher vocations or OCS/SCS, you’ll definitely have to be PES B1!
What is BMT like for a PES B1?
This iconic meme probably sums up the feelings of all enlistees on the first day of BMT. But other than that feeling of dread – what else should you be expecting from BMT as a PES B1?
Well, before I share what you can expect from a PES B1 BMT, let me share with you the 2 possible BMT batches that you can belong to as a PES B1 – the PTP Batch or the Enhanced Batch.
PTP Batch vs Enhanced Batch
If you’re PES B1 and fail to score 61 points or more for your Pre-Enlistee IPPT, you will be assigned to the PTP Batch. And, if you do pass your IPPT with a score of 61 points and above, you will then be assigned to the Enhanced Batch.
This means that if you are allocated into PTP Batch, you will also serve the full 2 years of NS. This is similar to NS served by NSFs with a PES status of B2 and lower, as you won’t be able to enjoy the 8-week reduction in service duration.
The reason for this is that the extra 8 weeks will be used to boost your physical fitness to a higher standard. This is to ensure that you will be able to pass or even score better in your future IPPTs during BMT.
So in summary, try your best to get 61 points or more for your IPPT, otherwise, you will have an extra 8 weeks of BMT!
My BMT experience as a PES B1
I still remember the day of my enlistment back in 2019. Waking up early in the morning to have my last McDonalds breakfast, before finally reporting to Pasir Ris Bus Interchange – where my story as an NSF began.
Being an overweight kid my entire life, I am glad to say that the Pre-Enlistee IPPT was the 1st ever physical fitness test that I passed! And luckily for me, it was the only one that really mattered after all.
As such, I enlisted as part of the Enhanced Batch and only had to undergo 9-weeks of training. However, these 9-weeks of training are definitely not a walk in the park.
As there are many high-key events that you are required to clear before your POP, the BMT experience for the Enhanced Batch tends to be way more rushed and packed as compared to the BMT experience for PTP Batch.
So I would say that, if you’re part of the Enhanced Batch, do be prepared for a fast-paced BMT as there is a lot that you need to accomplish within 9-weeks:
You can also expect to be pushed physically to your limits during Physical Training (PT) sessions.
So honestly, there is only one word needed to summarise my entire BMT experience – “Tiring”. Like I mentioned above, having 9-weeks only for your BMT, makes it such that you practically have 1 high-key event every week. It is a mad rush.
However, amidst all that mad rush, you will also learn a lot of soldiering fundamentals that will carry over into your unit life or command school life. BMT will also try to help you to build a positive mindset towards the challenges you might face in NS.
While I personally didn’t enjoy/like my NS life, I am, however, definitely thankful for the mindset that was inculcated into me through all my tough training. As cliche as it might sound, NS did instil the standard “Never Give Up” attitude in me towards physical training and that is why I still try to push my body physically even after I’ve ORD-ed.
Thus, in summary, I would say that BMT for you, if you’re PES B1 Enhanced Batch, will definitely be fast-paced and extremely tiring.
However, you can learn a lot from it if you’re willing to be open to it. And whatever you learn, will certainly be beneficial to you for the remainder of your service.
What are the vocations that I can do as a PES B1 NSF?
As a PES B1 NSF, you will be eligible for any vocation – as long as you have perfect eyesight of course. Why I say that is that certain vocations – NDU, RSAF Pilot – do take your eyesight into consideration.
Here is a list of all the possible vocations that you can be posted into post-BMT:
- Air Defence
- Combat Engineers
- Security Trooper (ST)
- Maintenance & Engineering Support
- Military Police
- Naval Operations
Note: If you’re curious about what the training for each vocation might be like, you can access a handbook linked here. This handbook will give you an individual breakdown of what each vocation entails and the type of training that takes place.
To get into either of these vocations, you will have to be shortlisted and then selected after their vocational assessments. After selection, you will then undergo your BMT under either of these units and this BMT is different from the standard BMT of normal NSF’s.
As such, unless you intend to sign on for NDU or CDO post-BMT, the 2 vocations will, unfortunately, be out of your reach if you did your BMT in Tekong.
Can PES B1 NSFs go to CDO, NDU, Guards or OCS/SCS?
Yes, you can go to either of the above-mentioned vocations even if you’re PES B1!
As mentioned previously, CDO and NDU however, are not vocations that you can be posted to after BMT. Instead, they are vocations that you will directly enlist into if you are selected.
Can I be a clerk or storeman as a PES B1 NSF?
If you’re thinking about this, I’m guessing you want a relatively chill NSF life and you will be glad to hear this. You can be posted as a clerk or storeman even if you are combat-fit PES B1 NSF!
Being posted to less intensive non-combat support roles – clerk, storeman, drivers, ST’s, etc. – is not very common but also not as rare as you might think. There are even instances where perfectly fit PES A individuals are posted as storemen.
What is it like to be a PES B1 NSF?
For the majority of us who are posted to combat vocations, being a PES B1 NSF is definitely not easy. As a combat-fit soldier, you will be pushed physically and mentally to strengthen your psyche and body.
So I would say that there are certainly some pros and cons of being in PES B1.
Pros of being in PES B1
Here are some pros of being in PES B1.
#1 Combat Pay
Yup, this is exactly what it sounds like – additional money on top of your monthly allowance. If you didn’t know already, the way that you are paid in NS is that you are paid a combined sum consisting of 2 allowances:
- Your monthly rank allowance
- Your vocational allowance.
Rank allowance, as suggested by its name, is based on the rank that you hold in NS – recruit, private, lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, etc.
Based on the image above, you can see that combatants will be paid a significantly higher vocational allowance. This stark difference in vocation allowance is what we commonly refer to as “Combat Pay” in the army.
Considering that your monthly rank allowance itself already isn’t a lot, having the extra combat pay as a PES B1 combatant is a welcomed addition!
#2 Physical Fitness
One thing that I can guarantee is that as a PES B1 NSF, you will certainly see a great improvement in your physical fitness – if you take your training seriously.
I saw a great improvement in my running speed and stamina from just my 1st 6 months in NS. My 2.4km was cut down by a whole 2 minutes – from 12.30 to 10.30 – and now I’m even able to run for longer distances of 5-6km – which I wasn’t able to do before enlisting.
Whether you like it or not, it is a fact that you will be stuck in the army for 2 years so you might as well make the best of it!
#3 NS Experiences
As someone who has done both sides of the job, as a PES B1 and B4, I would say that while my life as a PES B4 is considerably easier, I did have more memorable & unique experiences during my time at PES B1.
At lower PES statuses, you will more than likely not be sent out into the field most of the time, so the experiences that you can have is limited.
If you are wondering how it is like to be a PES C9 NSF, you can check out this guide here.
From beheading a quail to getting ants swarming inside my pants to eating McDonald’s outfield – the experiences I had, I don’t think I’ll ever experience again. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, these experiences aren’t per se bad either.
Memories made give you something that you can look back at with your friends and remember the 2 years by – instead of just remembering it as just a giant waste of time.
So yeah, even though PES B1 life is way more shag as compared to lower PES statuses – I do believe that you will walk away from NS with more memorable experiences that you will forever remember.
PS: Down-PES-ing is also not as easy as you might think it to be.
Cons of being PES B1
Here are some “cons” of being in PES B1 – if you look at them that way.
#1 Stricter Daily Regimentation
As a combat-fit soldier, you will be expected to hold yourself to a higher standard and day-to-day regimentation is a lot stricter as compared to if you were a lower PES.
Day-to-day regimentation includes small things such as shining of boots to forming up quickly upon command or even just how you carry yourself and act.
However, I would say that while regimentation is stricter, it is something that should be expected anyways. After all, the purpose of the 2 years of NS is to build up the soldier in you!
#2 Physically Challenging
Your training will be very physically challenging as a PES B1 since you will more than likely be part of a combat vocation.
For example, during my training phase in recon, route marches were more common as compared to other units. This was to get us used to the weight of our field packs as the ability to trek long distances while bearing the weight was essential in our role as intelligence.
But like regimentation, tough training is something that you should also expect going into the army. Training is definitely harder as a PES B1 as compared to a lower PES status because the nature of your job scope is very different.
Thus, while the tougher training might be ‘sian’ and a ‘con’, it is ultimately essential – to get you prepared for your role as a combatant.
All in all, I would say that the PES B1 NS journey is not going to be easy. I reckon that should be given though right? Since the entire point of the 2 years of NS is to build you up into a strong soldier.
PES B1 NS is going to be a lot tougher as compared to the lower PES life since the very nature of the job scope is so starkly different. My suggestion? Try your best to enter into NS with an open mindset and not to dread everything – even though that feeling is inevitable.
Undeniably, there will be moments in your NS life where you will just sit down and think – “Why am I doing this” – and it’s going to suck. However, just persevere through as many of us have undergone the same thing and I believe you can too!
I wish you the best of luck with your BMT!
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