SINGAPORE - Operationally-ready national servicemen (NSmen) were called up for homeland security operations in July for the first time since all non-essential in-camp training was deferred from March 31 due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
About 580 NSmen from the 735th Battalion, Singapore Guards (735 GDS) returned, with about 440 of them deployed to protect key installations at Jurong Island and the remaining men serving supporting roles.
The NSmen reported for their two-week in-camp training in two batches, with half starting in early July and the others in the second half of the month.
Their pre-deployment training included refresher courses on search-and-arrest techniques and on engaging hostile individuals, as well as firing exercises.
Various safe management measures, such as having the servicemen undergo travel and health declarations before they enter into camp and a twice-daily temperature taking regime, were in place during the in-camp training period.
There was also a staggered training programme 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 also segregated according to whether they were on duty or on standby for any 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 bed 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 July, 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 each other and train together," he said.