Updated: Nov 10, 2021
In this week's blog, we are joined by 2LT Elangiren. Kiren graduated from Victoria School and went on to attend the Aviation course at Temasek Polytechnic. Despite the many setbacks, Kiren was awarded the Platoon Best Recruit award in BMT and eventually commissioned as an Officer in the SAF. We are delighted to have Kiren share his journey in the national service, from recoursing to serving as a Platoon Commander in the Air Force.
Life Before Command School
Hi Kiren, tell us briefly about your NS journey before Officer Cadet School (OCS)
I attended the Aviation course at Temasek Polytechnic. Hockey is a passion of mine which I have been competing in competitively since the age of seven. I graduated in October 2019 and
while awaiting my enlistment, I suffered a spine injury that almost derailed everything.
How tough was it coming to terms with the injury?
I enlisted into BMT as other people. However, it only took a week for me to realize the injury had worsened, forcing me to go out of course from BMT. I spent the remaining five weeks of BMT helping out the commanders with behind the scene work. The pain was at times unbearable, and I had to down PES to a C9.
After BMT, I spent six months being a clerk in the Air Force at the Changi Airbase. As a result, it spiraled into one of the worst phases of my life. I wanted to serve the country dearly, yet having people around saying that it was nearly impossible to be combat-fit was soul-crushing for me.
During this time, I made it a mission to recover to up PES and redo BMT as soon as possible. This time ended up being insightful as I learnt about the meticulous details on the administration side. Finally, I recovered in six months and reenlisted in BMT.
How was your second BMT experience?
I was posted to BMTC School 4 Third COY. The readjustment was not as tricky. I helped my bunkmates to settle in and transition out of civilian life. One thing I initially found to be strange was the fact that my Section Commanders were from the same batch as me. However, this only motivated me to perform better. I was fortunate to be appointed the Platoon In Charge a couple of times, which prepared me for what was to come.
What was the highlight of your BMT recourse?
It was the second morning of my field camp during the second BMT. It rained cats and dogs that morning. I remembered feeling disgusted: there were bugs, insects, mud, puddles, etc. As I was about to lose my composure, the mail run came on the third day. Opening up the letter, I inexplicably teared up. As I read further, tears came streaming down. Within a split moment, I realized my parents are indeed the most important people in my life. Fueled by my motivation to not let them down, I put aside my as soon as possible and soldiered on. This memory was a significant reason why I decided to go to command school post-BMT.
Other than that turning point, the general bonding with my bunkmates leaves a lasting impression on me. We came from many different backgrounds and found our common grounds through endless nights playing board games and sharing life stories.
What motivated you to go to command school?
I have heard stories of how people transformed into an even better version of themselves through their time in command schools. Such transformations were no surprise because our military training is on par with some of the best in the world. Furthermore, I personally always have a higher expectation of myself. I wanted to serve the nation at a higher capacity while in national service; command school was my calling in the end.
Command School in National Service
How was your experience in the Common Leadership Module (CLM)?
Full of optimism on day one, I was taken aback by how mentally draining the journey was. Here, I was assigned to Tango Wing. Due to Covid-19, the module was shortened to one week compared to the usual two-week duration. After the week, I spoke to my dad and told him I did not want to be there. Encouraged by his words and what I have overcome to get there, I pulled through the subsequent weeks of OCS. Booking blues was a constant, and almost every day, I doubted why I put myself through such hardship and questioned if it was worth it.
How was your experience in the Service Terms?
During this time, we learnt the standards of OCS, which lasted for three months. We rotated among the seven people in our section for the leadership role. We learned a lot about weapons during this time, such as the Section Automated Weapon (SAW), the M203, the General-Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG), the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System, the Claymore Mine, and more. It was a steep learning curve as we had to pass a test regarding weaponry and military law almost every other week. OCS outfields are also entirely different from that of BMT. Two of the major skills taught during the service term were survival and navigation skills, which culminated in the ultimate test codenamed Ex. Relentless. The strict professionalism during the term instilled in us toughness and, preparing us for the professional term
How was your time during Professional Terms?
I was posted to Infantry for my Professional Terms, where I learnt to be a Platoon Commander myself. The time spent here is all about outfields, learning to come up with detailed plans to combat the enemy. Instead of heading out to Brunei and Taiwan for overseas exercises, we stayed in Tekong and Lim Chu Kang instead. Although I would love to experience the full-scale mission overseas, I quickly learnt that it is what you achieve from the experience that matters. I experienced one of the most challenging things in OCS during this term: a 16km tactical march with combat missions in between. The experience was to attain our combat skills badge, where we carried out many missions while carrying more than 25kg of equipment and bags.
Life After Command School
Where were you posted to after Command School?
I was posted to the Air Force, 608 squadron as a Platoon Commander, leading over 40 men in my time there. From life in the Infantry to the Air Force, it was a fresh and welcoming change with a different culture. As a PC in the Air Force, my main responsibility is force protection. Being the first line of defense, we have to ensure no breaches of our airbase and maintain utmost security. Other responsibilities include conducting various training, such as dealing with intruders, what actions to take when foreign unwanted aircraft land on our airbase, or drones flying in the airbase proximity.
Currently, I am serving as a duty officer. Essentially, I am in charge of the security of the Changi Airbase East Wing. Some of the responsibilities include looking after my troopers and specialists, conducting lessons for them, filling out incident reports, alongside other matters.
What were some highlights during your posting?
Some of the best and most meaningful memories I had were directly involved in handling detachment flights. There were a couple of these experiences, such as flights to Afghanistan and the USA, Australia, New Zealand, etc. We welcomed foreign air force aircrafts for their training in Singapore as well. Some of these detachments will see the arrival of key appointment holders such as the minister of defence, chief of air force, etc.
Would you have done anything differently?
Despite not treading the standard path, I treasure every day of the journey I took, starting from the enlistment day in my first BMT.
Was Command School the right choice in the end?
It certainly was worth enduring the tough training for my family and loved ones. It was indeed a privilege to have matured as a person through the rigorous experience of OCS.
What do you miss the most in your NS experience?
Although I am still serving, I could imagine one day when I look back, I would miss the jungle life which I grew to love during my Infantry days. Alongside that, I would cherish the many small yet fun interactions I shared with friends.
How would you advise someone deliberating whether or not to go to OCS?
Give it a shot. Even though nine months is a long time, and there will be a lot of downs, you will learn a lot from it and become a better person. Things happen in OCS for a reason, and every single interaction along the way will play its part in shaping your characteristics in the future.