Living Room Boot Camp: How Singapore’s recruits are training to serve

Chiew attending the lessons on the portal site, at left. Emir doing push-ups while following circuit training online, at right. Images: Pioneer
Chiew attending the lessons on the portal site, at left. Emir doing push-ups while following circuit training online, at right. Images: Pioneer

Singapore’s fresh conscripts are training at home now that nobody’s allowed outside unnecessarily due to COVID-19. 

Instead of encountering adverse conditions in the jungle, trainees say air-conditioning and home-cooked meals aren’t detracting from the program’s rigorous demands, according to personal accounts shared today by the Defense Ministry.

“This is not a break for us to slack off; we still have our responsibilities as soldiers,” Ferguson Chiew told the Defense Ministry outlet Pioneer in an interview published today.

“Even though we cannot carry out practical training now, learning the theory helps to prepare us so that we can be ready when BMT resumes,” Emir Ilyas bin Elham, another conscript, chimed in, referring to Singapore Basic Military Training.

Recruits are now learning through a home-based program following the suspension of military training last month in accordance with measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. The suspension affected more than 3,000 new recruits and is currently set to expire May 4.

Emir and Chiew reportedly are unfazed by the changes and remained committed to completing their training.

A significant part of the training consists of vigorous physical exercise to prepare them for an annual fitness test called the Individual Physical Proficiency Test. 

Recruits at home are being given instructional materials and fitness videos. 

“Back in camp, we had a mealtime regime where, before going for lunch or dinner, we would have to do static exercises like push-ups, sit-ups and squats. I do this at home too, including before breakfast. It just takes me half an hour. Every night, I go for a run too,” Emir said.

They’re also expected to participate in e-learning programs through an armed forces portal called SAF LEARNet. 

The program requires that they complete about 200 minutes of theoretical study spread out across a minimum of four modules. 

Chiew described the lessons to be neatly categorized and progressive, with quizzes to help them recap key points. Emir said the program helped him maintain a regimented lifestyle while equipping him with technical know-how. 

“I haven’t been presented with my rifle yet, but I’ve studied SAR 21 handling on LEARNet. It gives me an introduction to my rifle by breaking down weapon handling into different chapters. With the foundation and theory, I feel better prepared for the actual handling,” Chew said.

Both Chiew and Emir said they had upheld their responsibilities as soldiers by taking the home training seriously. They expressed hope others were doing the same.

“Remember that you are serving your NS even though you’re at home,” Chiew said. “So you have certain responsibilities to uphold as a soldier, such as completing your lessons, taking care of your fitness and health, and following instructions from your commanders.” 

Emir added: “Don’t forget that after the circuit breaker period is over, you’ll have to go back to camp (to complete your BMT). So you should take the HBL lessons seriously, so that it won’t be so difficult when you resume BMT in camp. It will make your transition smoother.”

At least for now, Singapore’s living rooms may be the safest place to be.

Other stories you should check out:

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Sick of delivery? Food pros share easy recipes for beloved Singapore dishes
‘We’re really small’: Struggling home food businesses want gov’t ban reversed


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