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Former Guards NSF: Yes, Everything is More or Less True about the Tekan Sessions, But…

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The death of 19-year-old Dave Lee Han Xuan, a full-time national serviceman from Guards, has raised quite a stir in the wake of allegations of gross safety lapses by the army.

Other former Guards NSF have come out with their own experiences, condemning superior officers for bullying behaviour, and medical officers for reckless endangering their lives.

This former Guards NSF, Ryan Wu, says that “everything is more or less true about the tekan session”, but that’s a phase which trainees need to go through.

Wu said that the phase, known as the “Guards Advanced Infantry Training” is the toughest training phase of all, but everything gets better for trainees from there.

Wu has called others who condemned Guards training as “biased”, because the “unnecessary tekan” ends after that training phase.

This is Wu’s post, reproduced in full:

“In light of the recent tragic events that occurred recently in 1Guards, condolences to Dave Lee. I have seen my NSF unit get mercilessly shredded online by so many. And because I too served my NS in 1 Guards (ORD-ed for a couple years now), many friends and family asked me if my time then was just as bad.
So here I am typing out a post because i find the other posts, about this incident and of other NSmen’s experience ( https://m.facebook.com/joelgohch/posts/813949062149243 ), particularly biased against the commanders. I respect their opinions and trust that everything they say is true. However I feel that there is always a different prospective to look at any particular situation with no given right or wrong. ( I would like to also point out here that I do think there is an issue with identification of physical exhaustion from everyone, commanders and men alike. *later on explained in a similar situation experienced by my platoon’s medic. )
I’ll start by saying I was a man in 1Gds. I am also a JC grad and did my BMT in Tekong, under scorpion coy (so some of you can imagine the shock I got from doing BMT in a “welfare” company to getting posted into Guards as a rifleman). So I hope to shed some light into what my experience was like for those around me at that time and myself.

-Reporting sick-
It is true that the MO in Bedok camp is probably the strictest one you can find in SAF. You can almost never get an ‘attend C’ (a.k.a MC), I have seen friends reporting sick for fever or flu, only to come back with ‘light duties’ and ‘rest in bunk’. The only way one gets an MC is over the weekends from a doctor outside, however, if your MC is 3 or more days, you have to come back for endorsement. Falling out during training is also shun upon in the unit. From my own experience, I’ve fallen out of training before, only to be questioned by my PS, PC, CSM and OC. Even men from my platoon and other platoons asked me to push on (phrasing ” don’t keng la” in a nice way here), but thats my judgement on their intentions. And all I had to do was to insist on falling out, even though my OC said he said I shouldn’t fall out, and agree to stay back for RT that weekend. My point here is that in 1Guards or any unit that has a high rate of malingering, there are bound to be due process to prevent malingering so as to retain the men within the unit. Nobody forced me to do anything, even though the bombardment of questions coming from every commander could seem like it. I, just like every other soldier, had a choice to make, carry on with the training or fall out. (I actually fell out because of bad heat rash, on hindsight, everyone was right to push me, but I didn’t mind wasting half my weekend.)

-Tekan during training-
This occurs mainly in GAIT (Guards advanced infantry training ). Yes everything is more or less true about the tekan sessions. Some of my most memorable ones are; mid-afternoon bear-crawl chasing my PS because some men laughed during PT, cleaning up after a dustbin that was thrown off the second floor because we didn’t put a trash bag in it, running around the parade square because we didn’t get recon 1 for technical handling only to come back after the run to get tested right away, these are just to name a few and I don’t even want to get into the name calling. However, it’s not just all bad when it comes to these tekan sessions. Yes, as a man receiving all of this at that particular point in time, you feel like shit and demoralized, you question everything and understand nothing. But on hindsight, all these were training and necessary to build up our mental strength for whats to come, because unlike other units, guardsmen don’t have it easier after our training phase, neither do we have it easier in our second year. Every outfield involves walking, walking and more walking, giving up midway is not an option.

BUT! the unnecessary tekan ended after GAIT, after that tensions ease a little and we work together to become a battalion. So this is why I find the two posts that I read particularly biased. They both only recount the GAIT phase where commanders have to be in that manner, not by choice but by what is require in our training. At the end of the day, those sergeants have to serve the first year of NSF life with you, and the further 10years of reservist.

*I would like to point out that saying biased does not mean that I do not believe what i read. commanders can sometimes over step the line. but it is unfair to them to call them sadists.

-Inability to identify heat exhaustion-
In the experience of my platoon’s medic, during on outfield, we were moving off after a short break, he spotted a man still ‘sleeping’ against his fieldpack. This guy was not conditioned to our strenuous outfield but still wanted to join us despite this fact. To make things worse, he was from another platoon, meaning to say that his entire platoon missed him (probably because it was dark and everyone was tired). Fortunately my medic did all the right SOPs, cutting his clothes and pouring water where necessary. This was after my medic accessed the situation, all while the company medic (a sergeant) was also present but hesitated on what to do. My point here is that heat exhaustion is very serious but not easy to spot. And the question is to who is to blame for such an accident to even occur.

My view might not be the conventional one, but I personally feel that it is in every individual soldier to take care of themselves first, then to look out for your buddy and fellow soldiers around you. At the end of the day, we are NSFs, yes we are forced to do NS, but nobody forces you to do anything you do not want to. Don’t push yourself beyond the limit just because someone says so. I hope all past present and future guardsmen and fellow NSFs alike take care of themselves.”

 

 

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. WONG SAU WAI

    May 4, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    I like that last sentence “Don’t push yourself beyond the limit just because someone says so” .
    I think my boy did okay during his BMT. But for the unit he was posted to, he came back saying is tougher than Tekong Island as had to carry his platoon mate with a full pack (that big black bag with everything inside) on his shoulders and run round the track…… One time he even told me he refused to “jump down” during training as to him, is about 3 to 4 HDB storey height.
    My boy still has about 1 year plus before his ROD. I do worry cause he is my only son too.

  2. Jammer

    May 4, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    This is an IB talking imaginative stuff. Smells like an IB, writes like an IB, and will perish like an IB.

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