August 7, 2022

NS at 55: NSmen in infantry battalion bond over tug-of-war and durian parties

By brit

SINGAPORE – When Master Sergeant (NS) Rasul Al-Hayat Iskandar Zulkarnain’s wife was expecting their first child in 2020, he had to decide whether to continue with his in-camp training (ICT), which was scheduled to end a few days before the estimated birth date.

The operationally ready national serviceman chose to return to camp to prepare for a high-key combat readiness assessment for the unit by the Army Training Evaluation Centre that was due to take place the following year.

Contingency plans were made, such as vehicles that could be activated to send him back to camp during field training, should his wife give birth during the ICT.

“Having all that planned out for me was quite heartwarming,” said MSG (NS) Rasul, 31, a company sergeant major with the 716th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (716 SIR).

Asked why he still decided to go back for training, he said: “Seeing how motivated the other commanders are, sometimes you will feel a bit left out if you don’t go – it’s like your year is not complete.”

The NS battalion scored a Redcon 2A – the second-highest possible grade – for the 2021 evaluation.

It also bagged a best NS unit award for the second consecutive year in the annual Singapore Armed Forces Best Unit Competition.

NSmen from the unit – which is now in its eighth cycle – spoke about their camaraderie during a two-week ICT that ended last Friday.

Singapore is marking the 55th anniversary of national service this year with a series of events, including a segment at the upcoming National Day Parade dedicated to national servicemen, past and present.

NSmen typically serve a 10-year training cycle as reservists after they complete two years of full-time service. MSG (NS) Rasul, a former regular who is studying at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, said that seeing his comrades grow through the NS cycle is fulfilling.

“In this 10-year cycle, I saw my guys who came in from being botak (Malay for bald) for two years.

“Now, they’ve gained weight, grown as a person, husband and father… You feel that you’ve shared a life with them.”