TL;DR – The good, the bad and the ugly.
There is an article going around about one man’s rant about his reservist experience. It can essentially be summed up as “reservist sucks”. From his experience, he thinks that reservist is a waste of time and money. He is convinced that there is no way that a few weeks of reservists every year will be able to get NSmen who’re comfortable with civilian life, back into fighting shape.
“When called upon to undertake actual operations or missions, we display the same fighting spirit as a Gardenia Cocoa Roll. The average Primary 5 Girl Guide shows more Gung-ho when she sells cookies.”
If you ask me, the whole article sounds quite exaggerated with many sweeping generalisations. Certainly, there are people who have had a splendid time during reservist.
There are units who do well in combat training, and in the process become a family.
Like the commanders and men of 823 SIR. There were commanders and men of the 823 SIR who asked for medical upgrades so that they can participate in outfield exercises. There were men in 823 SIR who were married over the weekend showing up for ICT. There were men with expectant wives or newborns coming in for In-Camp Training (ICT). The unit even had someone who had just overcome cancer going outfield with them. In their last combat assessment, they narrowly missed the top grade. To put it in perspective, only three active battalions have ever gotten the top grade. No NS battalions have ever gotten it.
But bad stories are important too
So clearly that one rant in the recent article can’t be used to represent the experience of all NSmen. And while it would be easy for MINDEF/ SAF to dismiss that article as just a single person’s rant, it would be a mistake.
What the article does highlight is that there are people within our system who view the experience with disdain.
Perhaps there are really some people on the ground who genuinely feel frustrated and it would be unfortunate if no one from the authorities listened to these concerns.
Working towards addressing their concerns allows us to keep on making the system better.
So, what now?
Of course it is obvious that we shouldn’t judge the entire system just from one person’s rant about his reservist, but we should acknowledge that NS, like the other systems in Singapore, is not perfect and that we need to be careful not to dismiss feedback entirely.