Major Teoh’s Blog

March 4, 2007

Do not scrap NS Training

Filed under: General — Major (Rtd) Teoh @ 8:52 am

Do not scrap NS TrainingBy Major (Rtd) Teoh

I wish extend my condolences to the family members of those NS trainees who passed away while on course. Their bereavement cannot be so easily consoled and their grief cannot be so easily forgotten, not even with the passing of time.

Scrapping the programme will not solve the problem. It is as good as banning people from crossing the roads because there are road fatalities and people from from flying because of an air crash.

We must remember that in any actvity we carry out, there is bound to be accidents and deaths. This we must expect.

Personally I have gone through the rigors of military training and frankly I must admit it is tough. Just because there are a few deaths, it does not mean that we should scrap the programme altogether. Now is the time for us to review procedures and the training programme in toto.

In the army we do everything in stages. For example to prepare the troops for a long distance-forced march, we begin by walking and jogging. We do it in our shorts and running shoes, less arms and packs.

The weight, equipments and distance will increase accordingly as the training progresses depending on the fitness of the troops. It will take months before the troops put on their Full Service Marching Order (FMSO), complete with packs, seven days’ ration, two grenades, rifle, first line ammunition, claymore-mines and other war paraphernalia. This is also the same when we teach them how to scale the 10 foot wall with FMSO

All these going-ons are closely watched and monitored by our resident Regimental Medical Officer (RMO) at each training.

Before a new day starts, we have a Report Sick Parade, where all those soldiers who do not feel well, or those who have aches and pains can present themselves to the RMO for medical examination.

In this way we weed out the weak and sick and we only ensure that the healthy take part in the training.

I do not want to sound boring. I am sure all the NS Camp Commandants know what I am driving at. Most of them are ex-army personnel. In brief I would like to suggest that:

1.. There is compulsory initial medical examination and drug screening for all NS trainees;
2.. Review all training programmes and ensure that they progress from less vigorous to more strenuous ones;
3.. A Sick Parade must be conducted daily before any activity is allowed to begin;
4.. Trainees are obliged to declare the illness they are suffering from, such as epilepsy, allergies, and other forms of phobias.
5.. There should be no compromise for safety.
6.. Hygiene of the camp must be of utmost importance.

The crux of the whole issue is pushing the trainees too hard and expecting them to perform like trained soldiers. We must not forget that these trainees are mere schoolboys and girls plucked from their schools and sent to these camps.

Sometimes it is the trainees themselves to blame. In their enthusiasm, they tend to over do and push themselves to the limit.

We cannot expect them to go from zero to 200 in a second or two. The only thing that can move from zero to 200 in a second or two is a bathroom scale and that is, if you put a 200 pound lady on it.

Just sharing.


Major (Rtd) Teoh


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