Three Lessons from Basic Military Training

I spent 1 year and 10 months in the Singapore Army. It’s a rite of passage for every Singaporean son.

Here’s what I’ve learned during my nine weeks in Basic Military Training (BMT), the time when you convert from a civilian to soldier.

#1 The Importance of Sleep

When you think of army life, it’s discipline, shouting sergeants and a long day. But sleep was serious too. Most nights, I got 7 hours of rest (time in bed with your eyes closed). If not, I would get punished with weekend confinement and my commanders would get extra duties as their punishment too.

The only exception I experienced for this rule was if you’re out training in the jungle.

#2 The Importance of Running

I entered BMT as a run-when-convenient person, but I left as a run-for-fun person. Hours spent putting one foot in front of the other turned therapeutic. And it’s a healthy way for us to compete with our former selves. It’s a you vs you sport.

#3 Do New and Difficult Things to Bond

There were 14 people in my bunk. We came from different schools, prayed to different gods, and celebrated different holidays. But we left BMT as one section.

That’s because we did so many new and difficult deeds together. None of us had ever marched 24km (15 miles) with our rifles, slept in a shell-scrape in the jungle, or stripped a rifle as part of a test. As the saying went, get to know your buddy so well until you always know the color of his underwear. We didn’t do that, but we got close.

Published August 19, 2021 | Updated August 19, 2021

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