SINGAPORE - Military recruits who were affected by a seven-week suspension of their basic military training will graduate two to four weeks later than scheduled.
This is to cater time for them to complete their training syllabus, including heat acclimatisation and to build up fitness, said Lieutenant-Colonel Lim Yew Sheng, commanding officer of Basic Military Training Centre School 4, on Tuesday (May 26).
LTC Lim was speaking to reporters at the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Ferry Terminal on the first day of the resumption of BMT.
About 1,500 recruits were to report back for duty on Tuesday, out of the 6,300 that will resume basic military training (BMT), which was suspended in line with Singapore's two-month circuit breaker period that started on April 7.
Reporting dates are spread out from Tuesday to June 7 so that safe distancing measures can be implemented.
Two batches of recruits were affected by the BMT suspension. The earlier batch, which enlisted between February and April, will have their graduation delayed by four weeks. They were supposed to graduate in June and will now do so in July.
The later batch, which "administratively enlisted" in April and May but did not have to physically report to camp until the current period, will face a shorter delay of their graduation, of about two weeks.
The Ministry of Defence previously said the BMT suspension would not affect servicemen's operationally ready date, which marks the completion of their full-time service.
Recruits on Tuesday reported with their field packs and duffel bags at Selarang Camp and two locations at Pasir Ris Bus Interchange.
As part of their health screening, they were required to have their temperatures taken and submit a health declaration before they boarded the buses - which took only half the usual number of people - to the ferry terminal to take them to Pulau Tekong.
Their reporting time was staggered by and within a company, which has 200 to 250 people, starting from 12.30pm to after 8pm.
LTC Lim said that the resumption of BMT, which was announced on May 19, was important because of the need to train new soldiers to maintain operational readiness for the army and the SAF.
He said measures in place include deploying commanders on the ground to ensure safe distancing, and having recruits keep to their groups - four groups per platoon - and placing hand sanitisers in every bunk.
"On top of (these measures), we also have progressive training when they are back in Tekong. We have a structured heat acclimatisation programme for the recruits to follow - this allows them to build up their stamina and fitness progressively," he said.
"We're not going to rush into training. We will start with basic progressive training, meaning their physical training will be regulated to build up their stamina," he said, adding that recruits also had to go through a home-based programme to help them maintain basic fitness during the BMT suspension.
Basic training for about 1,700 trainees from the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force also resumed from Tuesday, with reporting dates until June 8.