Full-time national servicemen (NSFs) who typically go into service vocations are getting a feel of the rifles used by Singapore soldiers through the use of a shooting simulator.
NSFs graded PES E, who typically take on positions such as administrative support assistants or supply assistants, will get to try out the SAR-21 assault rifle by using the Individual Marksmanship Trainer in an indoor virtual firing range.
PES E soldiers, along with their PES C counterparts, have been training at School Five of the Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) since it opened at Kranji Camp in October last year, and Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How visited the facility yesterday.
PES is an abbreviation of Physical Employment Standards.
PES C means a soldier is suitable for combat service support vocations and some combat support vocations.
However, PES E soldiers can only enter combat service support and service vocations.
Under the new curriculum, the PES C and E soldiers will both undergo a weapon presentation ceremony and a combined graduation parade, just like their combat-fit counterparts.
This change has been in place since BMTC School Five was created. The new curriculum aims to provide recruits with shared defining moments.
PES C and E recruits will spend nine weeks at BMT, comprising a four-week basic soldiering phase, followed by a five-week vocation specialisation phase.
Prior to the change, PES C soldiers underwent a four-week basic soldiering phase while PES E soldiers underwent a two-week military assimilation programme, followed by vocational training and then active service in their units.
"The mission and purpose of School Five is to transform recruits into confident, competent and committed soldiers," said commanding officer of BMTC School Five, Lieutenant-Colonel (LTC) Sim Kian Hwa.
He added that another enhancement to the curriculum is the Service-Fit Fitness Programme, a self-regulated physical training programme which allows recruits to train at their own pace.
It is customisable so they can "train in a safe and progressive manner", said LTC Sim.
Asked how the new school addresses training safety, LTC Sim said: "We have brought on board experienced and committed commanders, from BMTC in Tekong and also other training institutes, so that we can give them (the recruits) the due care and supervision during training.
"The commanders that are with us right now are well-trained by SAF counselling centres, so they are able to manage the recruits better."
Mr Heng told the media during his visit: "As we know, we build the defence of this country, with the backbone on our national service.
"So it is very important for us to have effective training that is safe, but also leaves a very good and impactful sense of experience with our NS men."
He also stressed that safety in training is "foremost in the entire design of the curriculum", adding that parents of recruits he spoke to were "confident and reassured".
Correction note: This article has been edited for clarity.