The changes to the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) left me disconcerted and somewhat rattled.
It brought to mind nostalgic images of Basic Military Training (BMT), a row of us recruits queueing up to do chin-ups before we were allowed to have our meals.
Yes, the IPPT has just become vastly easier to pass.
It also means that I can achieve a gold standard the next time I take my test, increasing my reward from $200 (silver) to $400.
But at what cost?
I have just finished my third In-Camp Training (ICT) and I understand emphatically how much of a hassle IPPT can be for us NSmen.
Failing it as an NSman results in the dreaded Remedial Training (RT), 20 sessions of physical training sessions that eat into work or personal time.
However, I still feel that the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) should not have done away with the more difficult stations simply to enable more NSmen to pass.
Push-ups are no substitute for chin-ups as they target very different muscle groups.
In my opinion, chin-ups remain very relevant to a combat soldier, especially one who operates in an urban environment.
Climbing ropes and scaling walls were never easy to begin with.
When you throw in the additional weight from a solider's skeleton battle order (including helmet, drinking water, ammunition and weapon), every extra bit of strength you can muster becomes absolutely essential.
And what about the standing broad jump?
The concern about fit individuals failing the standing broad jump is valid and such individuals should not have to suffer through RT because of that.
But couldn't an alternative test of leg strength be devised? Maybe a person has to complete X numbers of squats within a minute?
I think it is ironic that the three most important fitness stations are now a thing of the past.
I remember one mission I performed, many years ago. As my platoon provided suppressing fire, I sprinted (shuttle run) out of the forest towards cover.
On my way there, I leapt (standing broad jump) over an open ditch. Once my section had formed up, we climbed (chin-up) over the wall and finished off the enemy.
Such a simple and typical form of tactical movement, yet I now fear that the NSmen of the future may no longer be able to perform such a simple feat.
This article was first published on July 24, 2014.
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