SINGAPORE: Private Ethan Maniam’s food allergy meant he was classified as PES C when he enlisted in the Army. However, that did not stop him from getting a military experience.
He is from one of the first batches of recruits to graduate from Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) School Five, which began operations in October last year.
The school is dedicated to full-time national servicemen who can take up roles ranging from combat support to service vocations. These personnel, who are given PES C or E status, go through a combined nine-week, stay-in course at the school.
Those classified in PES E previously had to go through a two-week military assimilation programme.
"Training is now centralised so that commanders are able focus on people who have issues, who are not combat fit,” said Private Maniam. “So being in PES C, I feel very safe."
NSFs given either PES C or E status now have to go through a four-week soldiering phase, during which they can self-regulate their training. This allows them to train and progress at their own pace while under supervision.
This is followed by a five-week vocational training stint, during which they learn how to take on roles, such as that of a transport operator.
Afterwards, they have a Weapon Presentation Ceremony and a combined graduation parade to look forward to – an experience that their counterparts from earlier batches did not get to go through.
"We have also brought in experienced and committed instructors from BMTC and also other training institute to BMTC School Five to ensure quality, care and supervision are also given to recruits,” said LTC Sim Kian Hwa, the school's commanding officer.
“We have also collaborated with SAF counselling centre for training and management of instructors so they are able to take care of the recruits properly during the nine-week stay-in period."
Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How, who visited the school on Monday (Mar 18) afternoon, said every full-time national servicemen has a role in defending Singapore, regardless of medical status.
"It is very important for us to have effective training that is safe that leaves a very good and impactful sense of experience with our NS men, so that everyone, regardless, has strengths to contribute into the defence of the country," he said.
Three batches of recruits have already graduated from the school, and about seven more batches are expected to come through by the end of the year.