Sunday, April 10, 2005

Stupidity Factor

I'm happy to do National Service not because I'm a True Believer, partly because I'm never sure what I believe in. But National Service is such a way of life here that I'm better off not spending my time kicking against it while having to serve, because that'd make me a whole lot more miserable. As you'd imagine, there are stories to be told about National Service, and because of that, Days Were The Those was started last year, with open invitations to anyone (non-serving women also) with a story to tell about National Service. I like the way it's been going, with a diverse range of insight and downright nonsense, with the nonsense bits coming mostly from me. This week, I received an email from a reader who contributed a story about how his life was put in unnecessary danger during his time in service. I've asked him to post the story himself because I think it's important enough, and because I've gone through that same stupidity myself to know it well:
Some nights I can still see the round dropping to the ground in slow motion - and yet too fast for me to do anything. I know that two years after I ORDed an NSMan died in an incident very similar to the one that I had gone through - and on the very same live firing area.
There's a difference between putting your sons in harm's way for a legitimate reason and something as senseless as taking a risky shortcut. And it should make you wonder as well, whether realism in training dictates that you should simulate water torture conditions, when in all reasonable expectations of reality, the chances of our soldiers being put in that situation for real is close to nil. I know there are many more stories along the same vein, and I'm glad they're slowly 'declassifying' accounts of incidents to bring those guilty of perpetrating gross neglect and stupidity to bear. I'm still horrified by standards during my time in full-time NS where once, during a night training exercise with live ammunition, I was asked to train my machine gun on a ridge 600m away, and only stop firing when I was told that our own troopers were charging up the hill. The radio-comms call ordering me to cease-fire came only after I sighted the silhouettes of my mates, against moonlight, on the ridge. Good thing I had great eyesight and night vision. I've lost two mates to National Service, and I have four years left to serve. I don't want to lose anyone else.
Surf stop: Think About This


Blogger stoned.nerd said...

i concur.

i've lost a mate too, a close one at that, in circumstances better left unsaid but not unforgotten.

but the mad bit is, they covered their asses and blamed anything/anyone but themselves. appropriate actions are only taken when an incident is highlighted in the media. when the case is discussed in the Parliament.

the commando case, though sad and unfortunate to all concerned, has served a red flag to all involved. but it won't be the last.

4/11/2005 01:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I think there isnt enough benefits for NSmen , and honestly Singapore is really small, hence a bomb would destroy half or whole of island (choy) anyway.

I think NS is kindof a waste of time for Singaporean men, and it really isnt fair.

They should at least uh, pay more or give out scholarships, or make everyone go to school during their service, so everyone have AA/diploma when they're done with their service.

or something like that

4/11/2005 04:35:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm beginning to think that *any* military do some sort of cover-up...some sort of alternate reality if you will.

I mean, even here in the I need to say more.

4/11/2005 07:28:00 AM  
Blogger ivan said...

From i've sussed out it's the same in cyprus, germany and britain (no national service though).

I think the mr miyagi's main point of wanting more accountability and tranparency is very valid, esp since this duty might be said to be 'forced' upon us, singaporean. it is just as important to for singaporeans to realise that it might be due to a 'military culture' rather than just the armed forces.

4/11/2005 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger Indiana said...

Any Nations military is a closed shop with it's own lingo, it's own rules and it's own way of protecting it's own ass.

These problems have always existed but as the media gets more savvy they are being highlighted and are subject to public scrutiny...yet I think there is an inherent danger that goes with being a servie, and let's face it you're not training to be a boy-scout, war is "slightly" dangerous.

I think the problem for most soldiers isn't that shit happens, it's that so many assholes on high cause it.

4/11/2005 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger kureshii said...

sadly, most officers nowadays lack the basic discipline to ensure that things get done properly, even if they involve serious breaches of safety. what to do? look out for your own ass, and bug the conducting officer/ whoever's-in-charge-of-bringing-you-back-in-one-piece even if it's going to get you extras and whatnot. if you feel your safety isn't being taken care off please sound it off, too many people die because they keep their doubts to themselves.

who will keep you safe? the saf safety hotline, of course. it's a number you might want to keep in your handphone.

4/11/2005 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger Anthony said...

I think the process of accountability is a -very- good one. It doesn't matter if we have one safety campaign or a hundred, because the -mindset- never changes.

Can you imagine the poor officer that has the job of informing NOK? "I'm sorry that he died, but you know, it was really his fault..."

4/12/2005 10:14:00 AM  

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