NSmen return for homeland security ops

Operationally ready national servicemen from the 735th Battalion Singapore Guards going through pre-deployment training last month that included refresher courses on search-and-arrest techniques and engaging hostile individuals, as well as firing exe
Operationally ready national servicemen from the 735th Battalion Singapore Guards going through pre-deployment training last month that included refresher courses on search-and-arrest techniques and engaging hostile individuals, as well as firing exercises. PHOTO: MINDEF

First call-up since non-essential in-camp training deferred in March over virus outbreak

Operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) were called up for homeland security operations for the first time since March 31, when all non-essential in-camp training was deferred because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

About 580 NSmen from the 735th Battalion Singapore Guards (735 GDS) returned last month, with about 440 of them deployed to protect key installations at Jurong Island and the remaining men serving in supporting roles.

The NSmen reported for their two-week in-camp training in two batches. Half of them started early last month, and the others began in the second half of the month.

Their pre-deployment training included refresher courses on search-and-arrest techniques and engaging hostile individuals, as well as firing exercises.

Various safe management measures - such as having the servicemen undergo travel and health declarations before entering the camp and twice-daily temperature taking - were in place during the in-camp training period.

A staggered training programme was also implemented to prevent large groups of soldiers from congregating, said Third Warrant Officer Jacob Lim, 31, a company sergeant major in 735 GDS.

The NSmen deployed at Jurong Island were segregated according to whether they were on duty or on standby for security incidents, he added.

Additionally, NSmen assigned for duties at Jurong Island had to pass a swab test for Covid-19 before they were deployed.

Lieutenant-Colonel (NS) Mark Chew, the unit's commanding officer, said that the presence of safe management measures resulted in various memorable situations.

This included seeing servicemen wear masks when they got up from their beds to use the washroom in the middle of the night, the 39-year-old said.

"The habit of wearing a mask is already ingrained in them," he added.

Corporal First Class (NS) Muralitharan Kalaivanan, 31, who attended the in-camp training in the second half of last month, said that he and his fellow servicemen had been looking forward to returning for reservist duties.

"It is only once a year that we see one another and train together," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2020, with the headline 'NSmen return for homeland security ops'. Print Edition | Subscribe