In our new blog series, Deep Dive into National Service (NS), we explore the experiences of those who served NS - a mandatory two-year service for all male Singaporeans and Permanent Residents. This week, we are joined by 3SG Hriday Mistry, who is currently in his final year of National Service. Hriday graduated from Raffles Junior College before enlisting into the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). He is currently serving as a 3rd Sergeant in the 9th Singapore Infantry Regiment (9SIR) as a key-installation protection specialist.
Learn more about life in Raffles Junior College through the lens of Enqi Liu
Life Before Command School
Tell us briefly about your NS journey before Specialist Cadet School (SCS)
I enlisted on 3rd January 2020, right after graduating from Junior College, into the 9SIR's mono-intake.
How was your Basic Military Training (BMT) experience?
BMT was by the far the most tiring and draining 3 months of my NS journey. Being part of a mono-intake BMT did not make my BMT journey easier as the standards expected from recruits are much higher and the training conducted is exponentially harder than the normal BMTC companies. On average, each day would last approximately 14 hours as we had to wake up at 5.30 in the morning and had activities all the way till 9.30 at night with minimal breaks in between. The term “admin time” was foreign to us; we didn’t even have sufficient time to shower, do our laundry, or talk to our loved ones at the end of the day.
Seeing my peers in "welfare companies" enjoying a smoother sailing BMT experience under BMTC made me wonder why I was being made to brave such hardships. However, at the end of the day, I realised that one gets used to the rigour of the mono-intake BMT and pushes through it alongside your brothers.
What are your highlights from BMT?
I would never forget the sense of satisfaction I felt upon completing the gruelling 24km route march before our passing-out parade (POP). It was amongst the best times I had! I forged a strong bond with my peers so I was excited to chit-chat with my mates and commanders all the way from Changi to Marina Bay. Another highlight would be my Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) - a physical fitness assessment used to test the physical fitness and motor skills of servicemen. Performing well in my IPPT to achieve a gold was extremely fulfilling. Above all, the experience made me confident of the fact that I can push myself when things get hard.
Were you aiming for Command School during BMT?
I wanted to go to command school from the get-go. I’ve always had a passion for leading and I’ve held leadership positions throughout my schooling years so I wanted to continue to develop as a leader in a different environment. Furthermore, I was looking forward to the responsibility that comes with being a commander. The additional privileges and welfare of being a commander are always a plus.
Command School in National Service
How was your experience in SCS?
My command school experience was excellent and second to none. Being posted to a welfare company in SCS was a blessing - a much needed one too after the rather torturous BMT I went through. Being from mono-intake, I did not have a choice with regards to the vocational training I wanted to opt for during my professional term in SCS. Consequently, I was posted to the notorious Infantry vocation. As such, I went through Infantry training for my entire six months at SCS. This included two months during the foundational term and four months during the professional term.
Essentially, the jungle became my second home as we spent most of our time training and conducting missions in the jungles. But the best part of being in the Infantry unit is the brotherhood and the camaraderie that you get to experience. Nothing in the Infantry is done alone and you go through all the hardships alongside your brothers - forging a truly special bond. Seeing each other drenched in sweat and muddy uniforms day-in and day-out becomes a norm. This makes the moment when you don the pristine Number 1 (Parade uniform) - looking like an absolute showstopper if I may add - much more worth it.
What were some of your highlights from command school and why?
My time spent in SCS gave me many highlights, especially with the plethora of weapons I was trained to handle. This resulted in me having the opportunity to use mines and weapons like the SAR-21 assault rifle, the Section Automated Weapon (SAW), grenade launchers and a 'rocket launcher', to name a few.
There was also this particular outfield mission we participated in where I managed to get a total of seven hours of sleep over a five-day period. Fortunately, we were given adequate time to rest and recover. We booked out for the weekend upon completion of the outfield, giving us sufficient time to recharge our batteries ahead of the next training exercises. Essentially, SCS meant back-to-back missions weekly. But fighting missions alongside my brothers brought me great memories. I fondly remember this one incident where we were lost in the middle of a jungle during a mission for hours and everyone worked together to figure a way out to get back on the right path.
Would you have done anything differently in SCS?
Not really. I believe I gave my best towards my training and personally, that is the most important thing to me.
How can one foster a strong bond within their section/platoon?
Willingness to get along with people that come from a different background from oneself is crucial. I feel that we can be rather sheltered before NS where we are only exposed to peers that come from similar backgrounds. This can make NS feel like a 'cultural shock' where some face challenges trying to get along with those that come from different backgrounds. I believe one can make an effort to land on a common conversational topic which helps to break the ice. Most importantly, the notion of never judging a book by its cover was reinforced to me during NS. Thus, one can be more approachable by not having a superiority complex and putting in the effort to know everyone on a personal basis. At the end of the day, everyone is in it together and one has to work with each other to complete your training together.
What would you tell yourself a year ago when you were still in BMT/SCS training?
I would simply tell myself to stop looking at the number of days I have left until I finish my service - my Operationally Ready Date (ORD).
Don’t count the days but make the days count.
How would you advise someone deliberating whether or not to go to SCS?
Definitely go for it. If you can push yourself mentally and physically and want to feel a sense of accomplishment from your NS journey, Command School is the right choice for you.