Air con shirts make our army soft

From’ Air-con shirts won’t toughen our soldiers’, 22 June 2018, ST Forum

(Dr Michael Loh Toon Seng):  I applaud the Singapore Armed Forces’ efforts to minimise heat-related injuries during training (SAF can improve heat injury prevention: Panel, and Army combat soldiers get new uniforms that cool faster; both published on June 21).

The uniform introduced recently is designed to absorb perspiration and dry quickly. It also provides better air circulation, making our soldiers feel more comfortable and endure longer in a combat environment.

But isn’t the whole point of national service about readying our boys for a state of preparedness in as real an environment as possible?

NS should be a time when our enlisted soldiers train in realistic combat localities and learn to overcome the elements and endure whatever comes with it, rain or shine.

During the Vietnam War, American soldiers succumbed largely due to the lack of experience sweating it out in the tropics. If the troops had trained in the South-east Asian region, perhaps history would have turned out differently.

NS is not a fun-filled summer camp, and if we continue to mollycoddle our young sons and grandsons with “air-con” shirts and knee and elbow pads (these are now issued to NS men) we can never hope to transform them from boys to men; from boys to wimps is the more likely result, and the fate of the Americans in Vietnam may befall us.

Better training methodology could be the solution, and not necessarily more comfortable clothes because in the hot humid jungle, no clothing of any kind, no matter how high-tech, can make one comfortable.

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Yes, why waste tax payers money on fancy uniforms at all. If you want to breed REAL soldiers, our army should emulate these warriors below. Clothes only cause grazed nipples and no decent man would want that in the way of battle. Elbow and knee pads? Fuck that too! Give me a cape and a trumpet damn it!

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Use of handphones in camps? A disgrace!

Having a helper carry your load and a mother to wash your dirty uniforms? An online butler service for your fullpacks? Appalling!

Running on a treadmill in a GYM instead of the track? Useless! Wait, you mean the track is synthetic and you run in T-shirt and shorts! No pull ups during IPPT? Medicine balls instead of logs and boulders? WIMPS YOU ALL!

A lighter helmet? iPads for war games? Indoor shooting range? Brown rice for lunch? You mean our boys are not hardened with unsavoury gruel to steel their stomachs for trench warfare? What is this world coming to? You want to give our soldiers napkins and oxygenated water with their combat rations too? Why not just get our boys to sit on their lazy arses and have them experience 2 years of virtual reality NS from the comfort of home?

No wonder our troops are asked to do unmanly stuff like manage crowds at MRT stations during a breakdown, and our chief of armies are assigned to run public transport. We do not have the necessary lust for blood or an iota of heroic mettle in us. Dr Michael Loh, surely you are one of the last remaining diehard warriors left. If duty ever calls, I trust that you would be the first to sacrifice your life for Singapore, with cotton underpants or none. Your fullpack is probably the only one in Singapore where you have CB leaves in place of a toilet roll and a twig instead of a toothbrush.

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