Army Oh Shit!

Restful Night

I trudged wearily home yesterday night, chest hurting with each breath and cough, with a duffel bag on my back (now this lyrics sound familiar…). I called home only to be told to take the MRT home. And to clear the 4 flights of steps to the doorstep of my house, I winced my way through all of 5 minutes.

This marks the end of fieldcamp. This.

Field camp made me realise that I could run a fever while running between movement drill stations doing artillery drill; that I could march, blisters erupting on my toes and soles, for 8km in sun. It made me discover that digging the shellscrape was as tiring as digging through my homesick mind was painful. I didn’t fall out, though at times I wanted to;there was once I just stood outside the medical tent, deliberating in my sick state if I should seek some medical help and the shelter from the relentless rain that accompanied it.

Upon retrospect I still do not know why I didn’t immediately report sick and just heck all. It was a draining experience: having to layer cameo in slabs throughout the five days (a girl’s worst nightmare, and probably the main reason why the fairer sex doesn’t have to undergo conscription); having to high kneel whenever we went such that my knees turned angry red by the second day; having to comply with stricter discipline standards and bear punishments (including leopard crawling through freshly wetted loam for 50m in the freshly cold morning); having to endure not a night without a downpour or a day without gloomy skies; having to miss mum and dad and sis and home so acutely I just paused digging and sat down and teared.

It was one long lesson in resilience – mentally I was emptied of rational thought, emotionally I was a train wreck, physically I bore boot blisters. Even returning to the company line was tough work, comprehending the senselessness of reaching coyline at 4pm but sleeping at 4am to do sundry, postponable items like polishing the rifle.

And my mum and dad was ever so pleasant with me as I raised my voice in indignation over the many exhorts to eat dinner, bathe or to bring the duffel bag in through the door. My mum gave me painkillers, flu, fever and other supplements. She fed me the spoon of cough serum.

(Mum and dad got down to helping me scrub the field pack  when they realised I was just not up to it to do it myself. Can I seriously ask for more? They’re not angels, but they’re angel enough for me. I love you mum and dad. <3)

And there’s rethinking about how this field camp will affect my chances of entering command school.

Most of those I know are in JC, and are aiming for command school. Plenty of us want to become Officers; a few want to become Sergeants. Of course it’s good to want to lead in the SAF. But we should do a little rethinking on our motivation to become commanders.

So far the most outstanding reason has been personal achievement. The logic goes something like this: first, you’re here for 2 years in a parallel universe from which you cannot leave; second, you don’t understand military life fully so far; third, and however, you feel a distinct obligation to do your best in everything, and NS is something.

It’s the third component where the arguments tend to bend dubiously. We display a natural ambition to ascend any social ladder we see. But just because it is natural does not lend in any inherent purpose. A role placed before you as an opportunity to ascend and accelerate through the ranks does not mean you must pursue it.

There are people who are naturally placed and passionate to do so. They should pursue those roles. But officership shouldn’t go to people who just want it for the sake of status, or who become unforgivably pretentious for a role they want for exclusively ego reasons.

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