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Ah, again a post of mine has killed a thread...

 

Here, fixed it.

?

I don't understand why you erased your post. Fortunately I had read it. It was very interesting and very much on point. Certainly, it made me look up in wikipedia the topics about the Singaporean military. Based on your description you take conscript training very seriously and you have the funding for it.

If you have saved the post it would be good if you reposted it. There was interesting information there.

 

The thread isn't very alive as it is. I hoped for more interest. I am very interested to see how other nations organize their mass conscription systems and compare them with my experience in the Greek army. I was very disappointed from my service, but some people do not seem to fully appreciate the problem. I tried looking up other armies on the internet. There is some information but is too generic. The Americans (army and marines) have a lot of information on the net. Leo Niehorster's post in this thread added more info. But those are professionals and typically more is expected from them.

 

Now I must read Gregory's link of the diary of the Estonian conscript, which has the potential to be very interesting.

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Well, to add, short version.

 

I desired NBC troops (due not being quite clear in head probably :) ) when I was originally entered in military evidence (1998), but got air defence. Ofc, AD got cut heavily by a time I actually got to service so I ended in infantry...

I got in service in 2006. when army was "reorganizing" (IOW cutting units left and right). It was supposed to last 9 month, but lasted barely 7 (as it was shortened to 6 while I was in, so our term was also shortened). With leaves (there were a lot of those) it was about 5.5-6 months effective.

 

 

First few weeks was physical training - I sucked in this. I was never able to do a lot of pushups, hated running with passion and situps fucked up already fucked up knee (at the end I got medical waiver for sit ups but decided not to use it).

Then we got instructions on rifle cleaning, maintenance and shooting. First with blanks (which I wisely avoided, knowing it from a friends who served it is a royal PITA to clean a rifle after blanks), then qualification (3 x 5 rounds on different targets). I was 3rd of about 20something people (and got 2 days leave for it), first two got chosen to be squad marksmans, next best scores got to be squad machinegunners.

I got a good training on LMG (M84 - PKM), first disassembling, cleaning, clearing stoppages*, change a barrel**, Cooperation with assistant was big part of it, especially speed of belt change, both by assistant and me.

Then we got live ammo, and additional training started. If you practice a bit you can easily squeeze single shots***, and if you have optics**** you will have about same accuracy as squad marksman. Overall I fell in love with M84. :)

Training in using MG in SF role with tripod was limited and included only instructions how to mount it on tripod.

I cross trained on M72 (RPK), but instructor was adamant that in case of combat and casualties it was way better to ditch M72 and keep M84 running if possible.

Infantry squad training was somewhat basic, basic movement (at squad and platoon level), orientation, map reading etc. No GPS, old school only. We had one semi-serious exercise.

 

Other than that, I got to throw one practice and one live grenade. and shot 5 rounds from a pistol. Since pistol is only issued to squad MG gunner in case of war (and even then not always) I was lucky to have any training on it. Pistol was an old PoS M57 (TT) that I hated with passion.

I did not get to fire rifle-grenade or LAW.

Instructions included common mines (AT and claymore only, AP were phased out sometime before) setting and removal (with drill and practice versions), basic explosive setting (theory and instructor's demonstration only), AT weapons (theoretical only) etc.

 

Food was edible. We were lucky since old mags were being cleaned out, so we got a lot of "old-school" canned food (proof how much army decayed from late '80s - current ham can not hold a handle to the one made in 1991) for terrain and one weekend a month when kitchen was cleaned. You could get a beer in mess (after you were done with duties) in any quantity, but god save you if you got drunk.

 

I avoided most of kitchen duty and also most of guard duty - someone found out I know something about computers so they put me on duty of digitizing (retyping) lot of crap - and everyone knows armies like bureaucracy! After that I spent most of service playing Heroes of Might and Magic 3 (computer was too crappy for anything else)... OTOH, this granted me a lot of good will of the garrison commander, so when he found out I like old weapons I got to shoot some older guns as well as weapons that did not fall under my training - M56 SMG, M1A1 Thompson, Scorpion (really sweet gun and incredibly accurate for what it is) , M2HB (with ears ringing afterward even with muffs), CZ-99, Walther P-38, and M48 Mauser.

 

Leaves were plentiful, if you did not fuck up something you could go to town every saturday and sunday***** (and almost every day near the end of service), and got full 2-3-day leave once per month. You also got 1-week leave when you finished training and same leave at the end of service, which for some obscure reason you had to use before you got out - so you go home for a week, then come back for one day to turn back equipment... :blink:

Serving at 27 y/o was actually quite good for me (other than physical part) - I avoided a lot of petty shit done to younger guys (mostly cleaning of hall and latrines).

Other guys were... Interesting to say at least. I stayed in contact with two of them.

 

*funny thing was that instructor once tried to induce stoppage by stepping on belt, MG pulled now very muddy belt from underneath his boot and fed it w/o any problem... OFC, by the end of day mud solidified in hot gun and was a bitch to clean later, but gun kept working rest of day...

** only on a gun that was not fired. Reserve barrels are rare for squad MGs due the M84/PKM tendency to do fine and shoot straight even with very hot barrel. Instructor (who had experience from Kosovo) noted that it is always better to carry more ammo than reserve barrel - if you came to a point that barrel needs change you will need ammo much more.

***Which was frowned upon. In words of instructor "if you want to carry 10kg sniper rifle rifle I will give you sniper rifle and tie couple of bricks to it".

****Optics were not standard on squad MGs, they were used on machineguns in fire support squad.

*****You had to be back until 11pm and OFC, most of time a lot of people were not. So to get inside you had to jump over very old brick wall (or wire fence, which was worse option). One night someone managed to crash good 2m section of that brick wall... So next day we spent rebuilding it... Then someone jumped over it while it was still fresh and fucked it up again. Rebuilding time again.

:wacko:

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Well, to add, short version.

 

I desired NBC troops (due not being quite clear in head probably :) )

 

Interesting, I never knew NBC (Nuclear Biological Chemical?) troops were a special unit. I just thought it was infantry men given occasional NBC training.

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The camp where I did my 3-month basic in Dec 1983 is the School of Basic Military Training (SBMT). At the time it was housed in a camp called Nee Soon Barracks. It was an old leftover from the British colonial troops built in the 1930's as were most of our camps. Up till 1970's, it housed the New Zealand troops (where the above photos came from). It even had a church but of course, after Singapore took it over all religious symbols were taken down. We have Malay Muslims, non-christian Chinese and Indian Hindus in our ranks. The officer mess was a stately British colonial building fit for a king. During WW2 the Japanese took over this and all other camps to house the Allied soldiers as POWs where many died. So all our camps are pretty haunted.

 

I was in First Wing, Delta Company Platoon 13.

 

There were two kinds of camps for a new recruit to go to. One is like these basic training camps where after 3 months, everyone get posted out to different units. The other kind is where a person enters into a specific unit and stays there for 2 years. These could be Line Infantry units, Commandos, Armour, airforce or navy etc.

 

I had an easy life since I entered a Basic training camp where there was a high chance that after 3 months, you could get posted to a non-combat role. But I wanted a combat role since my older brother was armour, so I wanted to be in armour. But it was not up to you. and my father served in the Japanese occupational forces during WW2 in Singapore. He was also a conscript as he was forcefully conscripted into the IJA at gun point. The less lucky was not given this option and machine-gunned at Changi Beach.

 

My wish half came through as Delta Company was designated a "combat company" and our training were more tough. Some did end up in semi-combat roles as Military Police, drivers etc. I also got a semi-combat role in the Brigade HQ where we were deployed in the field during brigade-level exercises. The biggest one was held in Taiwan during the final year of my service.

 

The first year in Brigade was very interesting as our Brigade was tasked to organise the National Day Parade 1984 for Singapore. It was Singapore's 25th anniversary as a independent nation so it was quite a big deal. As a junior Lance Corporal, I was working among very high-ranking officer everyday from different forces. My job was mainly to draw charts and stuff (pre-computer days). One very important chart was where you can see all the different units as they arranged on the stadium for the parade review by the Prim Minister. But they order of where the different contingents stood kept getting changed and I had to keep re-drawing it. Plus it was all words and very boring. I loved art and I loved military so I loved drawing soldiers. So I created a chart where each unit is indicated by a card with a drawing in colour of what the troops would be dressed, and what weapons they carried. And these cards can be moved around as I created a slot in the backing board where these cards can be slid in place and you can re-arrange them any number of times. Our camp commander LTC was over the moon and very proud of this thing his conscript created for him to present to his bosses.

Edited by chino
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Back then they were part of engineers.

A guy I used to know ended up in Engineers. But it was the worst part of engineers called the "pioneers". I met him on a training ground by chance. His platoon each had a mini golf-club attached to his uniform. And they all looked like shit. Yellow mud uniform and faces that looked like they had all given up. Apparently, what the golf club tool was used for was to crawl on the ground probing for land mines. i thanked my lucky stars that day.

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So are their roles to fight as infantry men, or to clean up the mess created by NBC warfare?

 

Clean up mess.

 

 

A guy I used to know ended up in Engineers. But it was the worst part of engineers called the "pioneers". I met him on a training ground by chance. His platoon each had a mini golf-club attached to his uniform. And they all looked like shit. Yellow mud uniform and faces that looked like they had all given up. Apparently, what the golf club tool was used for was to crawl on the ground probing for land mines. i thanked my lucky stars that day.

 

My father served as engineer, dual qual of combat engineer and bridge engineer. 1st one included probing for mines (and all other nasty things) both with probe and metal detector, blowing things up and setting up all sort of nasty things and traps. Second one included a lot of carrying heavy things (Bailey bridge components are not light) even if he was in reserve officer school they all had full standard training and learning how to fix things they blew up previously. Last one he described as essence of probably every army along with "hurry up so you will have to wait, wait so you will have to hurry up".

I spent two months here:

And rest here:

Edited by bojan
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If you have saved the post it would be good if you reposted it. There was interesting information there.

Be careful what you ask for, I can talk forever about my conscript service even though the last time I'm in uniform was 20 years ago.

 

I still have my kevlar helmet, webbings and fullpacks at home. Unfortunately, I cannot fit into the uniform anymore. : ))

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Just a quick note regarding "professionals". When I went into the US Army only about 30% of the inductees in my Basic Combat Training class were volunteers ("professionals"), the rest were draftees, Army Reserves, and National Guard. The all-volunteer force didn't come until 1973. There was no difference in pay or treatment between types of soldier. And, frankly, a lot of the volunteers had joined only because they had been offered the choice of special military, and therefore the possibility of not going to Vietnam, or at least not as a front line troop. Many were deceived. Recruiting sergeants and used car salesmen: not to be trusted.

Basic training at Fort Dix, NJ was in "new" barracks.

http://www.thejumpingfrog.com/?page=shop/flypage&product_id=1322303

One training company (about 250 men). Three floors. Five bays with about 50 men each. Two tiered bunks, a set of two (i.e. 4 men) next to each other, with a cloth partition (shelter half) dividing each set. Nice modern toilet/shower/wash basin/cleaning sinks arrangement. Laundry and dry cleaning was done by a company, which picked up and delivered the clothes. Shoes and boots were your responsibility. Still had to spit shine all leather and highly polish brass items in those days. Half of the bottom floor was administration plus day room. Supply and weapons rooms in the basement. Kitchen and mess hall (one storey building) at the end. Staff (drill sergeants, admin) lived in single rooms within the barracks. Food quality was great, although sometimes it suffered in preparation. Of course, you couldn't please everybody all the time with the choice of menu. Training was seven days a week. No leave. No passes until the sixth week, and then only for the base itself, and for a few hours.


Accommodation during pioneer training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri was in restored WWII wooden barracks.

http://www.donparrish.com/FtLeonardWood.html

We slept in platoon bays, (approx. 40 men each), 80 men per two storey building. Same arrangement for bunks as Fort Dix. Rather primitive toilet/shower/wash basin arrangements. The corresponding buildings housing the company mess hall, supply room, weapons rooms, administration office (= orderly room), etc. were also in the same material and style, although only one storey. The buildings were individually oil heated. Although it was a cold Missouri winter, the temperature inside was fine. [OK, OK, those troops coming from warmer climes (Puerto Rico, Cuba, etc.) insisted on their wearing long underwear in bed.] No staff lived in the barracks at all. Again, food was great and plentiful, and we had a great set of cooks that added that little bit extra. Training was 5½ days a week. Friday evenings getting ready for inspection. Saturday morning was the inspection. Afternoons off. Sundays off. Of course, the usual guard duty, kitchen police, and general base housekeeping duties interrupted the training and free time.

Officers' Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, Georgia had the same type of barracks as at Fort Dix.

Weapons training in Basic (M-14) and Advanced (M-16) emphasized automatic rifles, with barely other weapon familiarization. However, OCS changed that. We also spent a LOT of time on the firing ranges. However, after eight weeks, the Army decided in its wisdom that it had too many (ca. 10,000) lieutenants, so the OCS programs were reduced in size. Candidates were "given the opportunity" to leave OCS and do something else. Yours truly was ended up in Germany.

Accommodation in Hanau, Germany (Headquarters Company, 130th Engineer Brigade) was in former Wehrmacht (WWII) stone barracks which had undergone a "Stem-to-Stern" renovation, probably making them the most modern barracks in the world at the time. Very comfortable. Two-man rooms, approx. 12 square meters each. Just to make up for all this goodness, the food in the mess hall was not too good. I was the brigade legal clerk. The troops of the HHC were on duty from 0800 to 1800, five days a week. Guard duty came seldom. I was also Duty Driver, which meant driving to V Corps Headquarters, Frankfurt (IG Farben building) to pick up classified messages.

Later, as an NCO, I also was Charge-of-Quarters at times. As there was never any trouble in my time, this basically consisted of sitting at the entrance of the barracks armed with a pistol during the night trying to stay awake, making the occasional rounds, and carefully avoiding the troops sleeping areas.

Discipline. By 1970, discipline and morale were very low. Smoking dope was rampant. Very little hard stuff, though. The 130th Brigade was a relatively orderly unit, although even then NCO and officers did not enter the accommodation area of the barracks without an escort. Across from our building on the same kaserne, there was a supply and service unit, where the NCO and officers entered – and that very seldom – only with an armed military police escort. Saw it myself on various occasions.

Pay as a private started at about $120/month. By the time I got out 2½ years later as an E-5 (sergeant equivalent), I was earning about $260/month. In addition, as had I managed to move out of the barracks and into a furnished room off base, there was Housing Allowance of $60/month, plus Rations Allowance $75/month. Less the obligatory $20 Savings Bond (more or less required), less 22% taxes for Uncle Sam. Leaving some $300/month. Nice money in Germany in the early 70s. For a member of the armed forces, with PX and Commissary privileges, cigarettes were 90 cents for a carton (10 packs of 20 cigarettes). Bottled alcohol was also very cheap. Gasoline was 35 cents a gallon.

 

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When we went over to Taiwan for Brigade exercise 1984, we had a taste of what the Taiwanese conscripts had to endure. At that time, it was almost still martial law in Taiwan and their military service was not as well funded as we were.

 

We were billeted in a camp where the bunks were a extended 2-tier wooden platform. It was like the Nazi concentration camps. Even as a recruit in Singapore we had actual bunk spring-loaded bunk bed with mattresses.

 

Our food in Singapore ranged from slop during basic to pretty darn good at the Brigade HQ.

 

But the food at the Taiwanese camp was worse than dog food. The rice were what they called "coarse grain rice" and they were powdery and greyish in colour and tasted as bad as it looked. It was also probably because the Taiwanese troops despised us and made the food so bad it was inedible. The Taiwanese referred to us as "boy scouts" because they feel our training was soft compared to them and we complain all the time because we were used to more comfort than the average ROC conscript. : ))

 

The toilets were an indescribable nightmare consisting of a long shallow drain instead of individual flushing toilets. Imagine a long urinal except you are supposed to shit in this one. The theory was if you flush at the far end of the drain, the water would flow down the length of the drain and wash away stacks of shit deposited along the length. Like most things in Taiwan it didn't work and when I entered the toilet, I saw a nightmare scene of week-old piles of shit sitting along the drain and huge flies buzzing them. The shit was piled so high if you tried to squat and shit over the drain, your backside is likely to touch the shit already there.

 

I held it in, and retreated from the toilet. I was indeed, too soft, to face this Taiwanese horror. I decided to eat as little as possible to avoid having to go to the toilet. I ate only a little of the combat ration "dog biscuit" - the cookhouse food was bad anyway - that had a reputation for making you shit less. We were moving out within 2 or 3 days and I managed to hold out until the trucks finally came and shipped us out to the countryside. At night, I took a shovel and a bayonet for protection and finally had a good shit out in the bushes.

 

But on the average we were much better trained than the Taiwanese (at that time) whom were more like robots because their discipline was too strict as to stop them from thinking. On the whole they were a very antiquated army at that time not just in armaments but also thinking. In 1985 their infantry sections had few, if any, support weapons like LAW's, M203, and LMG. And their standard rifle was the M14.

 

For some reason, we had to wear ROC uniforms instead of our own. This was because our being in Taiwan was officially "denied" in order not to offend China. China of course knew we were there as we stood out like a sore thumb everywhere we went and there were many non-Chinese soldiers in SAF.

But I think the practical reason for wearing ROC uniform was so we don't get shot at by dumb-ass ROC conscripts guarding the coast line thinking we're the PLA or something.

ROC uniform then were of a thin material and the only thing military about them was the olive green colour. They had to be tucked into the trousers which also required you to wear a belt with a metal buckle. It was ridiculous. Back home we were wearing US style woodland No. 4 uniforms and the ROC uniforms felt like a No. 3 office wear to us. On our arm was a large complicated-looking patch with complex rank markings that none of us could understand. Their rank structure was also complicated as they had several classes for each rank like junior private, senior private etc.

 

For sure their training were a lot tougher, but Singapore had by then made it a point to spend more time on combat training than on regimental stuff like marching, or starching uniforms, or wasting too much time to turn troops into highly-disciplined robots etc. This is again adopting IDF doctrine of emphasizing military skill over regimental stuff as a conscript's training time is very short.

 

The Taiwanese terrain and weather is very different from ours but I suspect we used the shape of the Taiwan island to simulate the shape of the Malaysian Peninsula. That's why our exercise started at the southern tip of Taiwan - just as Singapore is located at the southern tip of Malaysia - and our troop movement was northwards.

 

The ROC military has since modernized dramatically. But I like to think that our large, intrusive and long term presence there did a lot to help push the Taiwanese towards modernizing in the right direction.

Edited by chino
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I did my time in Finnish Army in the '90s, in AAA unit right on the Arctic Circle. Much has changed in the Army since then so some of this probably no longer applies.
Basic training was ten weeks (may have been 12) and we were given basic training. We were first Recruits and then promoted to Artillerymen in the end of basic training after we had sworn our soldier oaths. Finnish army no longer has generic rank "Private", lowest rank is based on your branch (Jäger, Artilleryman, Guardsman, Cavalryman, Signalist etc).
The training included some basic infantry training, outdoors exercises, physical training and shooting. We spent in fact quite a lot of our time in the range, however it was all fixed targets at 150 or 300 metres, we had no access to pop-up targets, nor we did the "patrol" drills. The unit was so called 'B' unit which meant it took 'B' rated conscripts, usually B rating was earned because of vision, or physical ailment or condition, sometimes mental abilities. This resulted to huge differences in quality of recruits - some quickly became very capable and motivated soldiers, in the other extreme were guys who struggled with the concept of shoe laces. As a B unit we also didn't get the newest stuff, I never saw a night sighting device during my service (supposedly there was one in the entire battery). We also wore old m62 camos or grey service uniforms, whereas rest of the army had largely moved to m91. Complete with grey field caps and leather boots, we looked like extras from Good Soldier Svejk, but I didn't mind, I thought they were actually superior to m91, it's crappy baret and goofy markings system. Some of our equipment was incredibly old, we were told that some of the cable laying stuff was donated by Kaiser's Army. We also had some former DDR equipment and old Soviet stuff. OTOH newest communications equipment was very up-to-date, touch screens and whatnot.

Basic training was moderately physical, but not too bad. We didn't march that much, I think longest was like 20km in a day.

 

After basic training most suitable were selected for basic NCO training which was done in-unit. NCO aspirants were then mostly sent to other garrisons to complete their specialization, wherefrom they would return as Under-Sergeants. Best/most eager (not necessarily same thing) went to Reserve Officer School and would come back as Officer-Candidates. Rank & file would start their special training right away, most coveted jobs were Unit Clerk, Staff Messenger and Staff Driver, as they had short & cushy service times and you got to hang around with officers, above the trench filth. Truck driver was also popular, it had long service time but you got a truck driver license for free (it's expensive in civilian life). NBC training was another popular option, it was easy and after training was finished you had next to nothing to do. I went to Signals, it was middle-of-the-road option, moderately easy but not too boring. We shared the base with Air Force unit, and there was always friendly competition between the 'Smurfs' and the 'Dustballs'.

 

Finnish army has no "qualifications" system, you are given a basic training with some weapon or piece of equipment and then you are assumed to be able to employ it. Tests exist only to earn you the achievment rank (3rd, 2nd or 1st rate) in shooting, running, swimming etc. but they are purely for show. (It's probably different for more high-tech jobs like maintaining an aircraft etc). 1st rate Shooting Award looks like this and was not too hard to earn. Lower rates are often not even worn:

 

If you miss a training because of illness or something, you are then given the training afterwards, or not, in which case you might be given some training during the field exercise. As for weapons, we were trained just the assault rifle and LAW and some basics on hand grenade and LMG, and because it was AAA unit, 12.7mm NSV and ZU-23. I only got to throw one live blast grenade, and shoot one LAW training rocket (I missed like most of us). Later, during reservist call-up exercise I got to shoot pistol, Suomi SMG and LMG.

 

Regular conscripts no longer did guard duty. It was only for MP's, some of whom were conscripts. Exception was the alarm exercise where base was locked down and we were assigned guard posts and routes. It was held towards the end of service and discipline was loosening, most people seemed to use guard shifts for sleeping. Live ammo was tightly controlled, owing to event few years earlier where a conscript went on to killing rampage with assault rifle and crossbow (no it was not a military crossbow). I recall one guy who stole few live rounds just in case he wanted to off himself, but apparently it never came to that.

 

In the end, best performing/CO pets were promoted to full Sergeants or Corporals (Finnish corporal is equivalent to US PFc). Officer-Candidates were promoted to 2nd Lieutenants in the last day. Various discharging day pranks were common, my pals stole Lt. Colonels hat.

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Awesome responses. Thanks guys!

Just a quick note regarding "professionals". When I went into the US Army only about 30% of the inductees in my Basic Combat Training class were volunteers ("professionals"), the rest were draftees, Army Reserves, and National Guard. The all-volunteer force didn't come until 1973. There was no difference in pay or treatment between types of soldier. And, frankly, a lot of the volunteers had joined only because they had been offered the choice of special military, and therefore the possibility of not going to Vietnam, or at least not as a front line troop. Many were deceived. Recruiting sergeants and used car salesmen: not to be trusted.

Leo, given that your draftees were treated and paid the same as volunteers, they were basically professionals. In Greece -I can't speak for other European armies- there is a disctinct difference between professionals (contract enlisted) and conscripts. They do not train together, but contract troops have their own training center and their own, much more extensive, basic training course. Moreover, Greek conscripts are basically unpaid (ie the 8 Euro/month salary I talked before about), whereas contract soldiers take a proper salary (ie 700+ Euro/month). Similarly, the rank insignia is different and professionals are senior to conscripts. Within the battalion the professionals have their own positions in the table of organization and certain specialties are only attainable by them.

Discipline. By 1970, discipline and morale were very low. Smoking dope was rampant. Very little hard stuff, though. The 130th Brigade was a relatively orderly unit, although even then NCO and officers did not enter the accommodation area of the barracks without an escort. Across from our building on the same kaserne, there was a supply and service unit, where the NCO and officers entered – and that very seldom – only with an armed military police escort. Saw it myself on various occasions.

Jesus. Why did they need escorts?

 

We in my unit had, I think, fairly high discipline. A conscript private talks to a professional corporal or even a conscript instructor in plural (if you know german you understand, in english the equivalent would be "sir"), and this was an order. You always stood up when an officer entered the room and talked to them standing at attention. I was (almost) punished with a 4 days punishment (prevention of leaving the camp) for responding to a question by my captain while I was at-ease. On that note, generally conscripts were much more disciplined than professionals. I have read on interent forums that in some units officers "feared" contract soldiers, or at least based on what I saw, they wouldn't shout and order them around as they did to us conscripts.

Edited by rohala
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Not conscripted, but volunteered for the U.S. Navy in 1978 and honorably discharged in 1987. Took recruit training for two months at Great Lakes just north of Chicago. Can't remember much but there was no firearms training. There was an emphasis on watch standing and fire fighting. The usual uniform care, military courtesies, etc. with modest physical training. Barracks was a large, open squad bay with two tier bunks and the recruits choice of a green or gray wool blanket. This bay had one unusual feature in that it had a "drying room." I think it was for laundry but the more out of shape recruits used it for remedial calisthenics as this room was warmer than the squad bay. At this time the Navy substituted it's traditional uniform for a ' business suit" look that lasted until the early 1980's. The traditional uniform could be purchased separately, I think, at the end of 1978. Food wasn't bad and they did away with traditional Navy names such as chow hall which was replaced with dining facility. The Navy reverted back to its traditions around the time Reagan became President.

Went to Hospital Corpsman School for about 10 weeks. Had men and women in this one. Can't remember much but no physical training and very few inspections. Still had" watch bills", ie duty station one which was guarding the library and the female barracks. Outside the barracks of course. Became basic medics.

After this was Field Medic School for the Marines. Lasted about 5-6 weeks. Was instructed by Vietnam veteran Hospital Corpsman Chief Petty Officers and Marine NCO's with emphasis on what they went through. A few hours instruction and use in the M1911. Do remember Thanksgiving day dinner with the chow hall serving old C-rat pound cake camouflaged with whipped cream. Did a few years being a rifle platoon corpsman with 2/6 and 3/6. Rode in a LVTP7 a few times but never saw a tank.

After that was several months of two eyeball technician schools in San Diego with duty stations in Groton sub base and Portsmouth Naval Hospital.
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During the last week of basic before "passing out" - as in graduation - all training had ceased. Our days were spent returning stores, cleaning up stuff etc. When you have hundreds of 18 year olds with nothing to occupy them, all kinds of mischief happen.

 

The unpleasant ones were mild violence. Fights occurred to settle scores, and then we also gang up on unpopular recruits that frequently got us into trouble during the last three months. The worse was "blanket party" where at night, we crawl up to someone sleeping and beat him up while someone wraps his head in a blanket. We avoid hitting the face so there can be less physical signs.

 

The victims complain, but the NCOs and officers did nothing as long as there were no serious injuries. THis was considered a tradition and after 3 months of hell, we had to let off steam.

 

Some get off with just having their faces drawn with permanent ink marker pens or toothpaste on their private parts.

 

The funniest one was where we had the one and only drinking bout at the other rank mess. We drank lots of beer as they costs less than a soft drink in civi street. After that, one guy - who wasn't unpopular - but just easy to victimise, was forcibly stripped completely naked outside the mess. Then we ran all the way back to our barracks with his clothes. It was a good 2km run even if you cut across the parade square. The victim had to run back as well, completely stark naked.

Edited by chino
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Swiss conscription is a bit different from the usual models. Instead of basic training and the rest of one’s term being one block, one goes home after basic and is called up for the annual refresher training with one’s active unit over the next few years.

 

The recruits would join school companies that were newly formed every January and July (summer being obviously more popular than winter) with the recruits being on duty Sunday evening to Saturday morning. The companies were always type pure (f.e. mortar recruits would join a mortar company, not a mortar platoon in an infantry company). Everybody in a school company, from recruit to the company commander, was doing their function for the first time. At company level there was a career officer + a career NCO to check/control the set up and running of the company/training regime, also conducting training sessions for NCO/Officers, but direct contact with the recruits was limited.

 

Corporals + Officers earning their grade were responsible for conducting most training based on detailed canned lesson plans which were adapted as needed.

 

The below is what a typical towed 12cm mortar basic training course looked like in the early 2000s. I did it 3 times so it’s a bit of a composite.

 

Week 1:

Collecting uniforms/gear, medical, many class room sessions, gear inspections, basic military socialization (marching, learning grades, saluting etc.). Receive personal weapon (stays with you until you finish military service).

 

Week2:

Zero rifles + manipulation first 2 days, then 3 half days in the KD box (so about one 1 hour session per person per day, normally 2-3 mags), rest of the time spent on rifle manipulation, basic first aid, NBC (full monty), hand grenade practice (theory/dummy throws) and dry runs for 2 person fire and movement lane. First night exercise, usually a 7km march.

 

Week3:

Half the day in KD box throughout the week, 2 person fire and movement drill with live ammo (1 mag per run) and fire cracker hand grenades. More basic first aid and NBC. Hand grenade theory test and static live hand grenade throw by each recruit (not war ammo, thinner non pre fragmented shell and less powerful explosive type, but easily fatal if going off next to you). This was the moment of truth for the platoon leader since there was inevitably one guy in the platoon that did something weird. A recruit he really thought he couldn’t trust would be shuffled off to guard-kitchen help duty and kept there on the remedial dates. Every company had 1-2 such cases. Friday was inspection by school commander + professional instructors of basic proficiency (KD Box, live fire and movement, basic first Aid, NBC). Another night exercise during the week, this time in platoon bivouacs, NVG’s for the guards, maybe demonstration of Thermal.

 

Week4:

Corporals out of NCO school join the company. Beginning of 3 week specialist training, company is reshuffled and new platoons formed for mortar gunners, fire control soldiers, observation assistants, anti-tank (Panzerfaust) gunners, drivers, medics. All time spent on specialist training aside from 2-3 half days of fire and movement (ex drivers, medics), now with the above live hand grenades and now normally with 2-3 mags. Maybe a 200m range or KD box session with gas mask on.

 

Week 5 and 6:

More or less as Week 4. Less or no fire and movement (depends on preference of company commander availability). Mortar training still inert, PzF get to use their 7.5mm inserts. Another night exercise, this time night march + bivouac, sometimes combined with a night session in KD box or on 200m range. 15km march.

 

Week 7:

Company again reshuffled, now into official TOE, so integration of specialists into platoons, normally one tried to keep the cores from week 1-3 platoons together. Week 7 is spent on drilling the complete platoons, practicing interplay of observers-fire control-mortars (radio language) and integrating the non-mortar specialists into the mortar crews. Last 2 days spent shooting 2cm fire crackers launched from inserts in the mortar tubes. In theory these would simulate the trajectory on 1:10 basis, in reality they were heavily affected by wind. Though still valuable practice because step up from inert rounds and after 3 weeks of dry run drills, those were becoming a pain. Night fire dry run.

 

Week 8:

Highlight of basic so far. Monday, company moves to range suitable for live mortar ammo. Tuesday – Thursday, live 12cm ammo firing. In theory we would have 20-30 rpg per day, in practice we used maybe 10-20 rpg, because of repeated delays due to something not working somewhere in the observer-FC-mortar chain. First live ammo night fire.

 

Week 9:

Complete break with everything above, now it’s all about guard duty. Since we are out in the country side from week 11-14, and we have no suitable place to lock up the mortar ammo+hand grenades, we need to have them in a temporary guarded compound (in practice a few containers on a parking lot surrounded by barbed wire) together with our other gear. Regulations state the guard for the above has to be with live ammo. So, week spent on guard shooting curriculum and various guard training. Very much a joke, since a lot from the earlier KD sessions has to be unlearned.

 

Week 10:

Back to mortar drill with some guard or fire and movement or something else mixed in. Night fire practice. Preparation for visitors day on Friday, when family + friends come to visit the company. Thursday spent prepping and rehearsing the posts, normally a combination of a platoon firing the mortar inserts, a squad sized fire and movement live fire demo (either with fire cracker hand grenades or real ones, though the 200m safety distance for the real ones mean none of the spectators can see anything, so a bit pointless) and some static displays.

 

Week 11-14

As said above, move to an area with a range suitable for live mortar fire. Since there is no caserne nearby we move into the civil protection shelter of a village. Next few weeks spent on firing mortars, infantry exercises, a 40km march and the “Endurance Week”. Since we are 12cm mortars and hence motorized, the latter is nothing fancy, just regular shooting drill but with field logistics and accommodation/anemeties + some night exercises/alarms. Dry weather makes the whole experience much more pleasant.

 

How much mortar ammo we get to use during these few weeks is heavily weather dependent. The firing areas for heavy mortars are all high up on mountain slopes, this means that we can’t shoot when there is low hanging cloud/inclement weather. Then one either does dry runs (low motivation at this stage of basic), praying for a hole to open up, or scrub the day and try to do something infantry orientated.

Of the 3 mortar platoons, on any given day 2 are doing live fire, while the platoon that is understrength due to the guard etc. does something with the simulators/blanks. What has happened is that some people hardly get any live rounds off because on their shooting days the weather is inevitably bad.

 

Mortar ammo allocation was quite ok, with 20-30 rpg per shooting day (4 guns per platoon) being probably the norm, with my record on a nice day being 50+, including a Night fire.

 

Week 15:

Move back to the caserne, clean, clean again, return material etc. etc. and going home.

 

 

The above system was more or less in place since the 60-70's but everything changed in 2005, with a totally new training structure/philosophy. Can't say much about it since I don't have any experience, but another reform will take place in the next 2 years, with many changes of 2005 being reversed or modified, so I guess the new system didn't work out too well.

Edited by Junior FO
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Very interesting! Thanks for taking the time to post. :) Interesting different approach to basic/specialist training.

 

As a mortar operator, and by extension also a rifleman, myself, I see that the difference in ammuntion consumption is chaotic. Obviously, since I served in the midst of an economic crisis with the Greek military suffering heavily, the ammo we consumed was abnormally little, but even pre-crisis I doubt out soldiers got to shoot nearly as much as you.

 

As part of my training I (not I per se, but the tube I was crew of) shot ~14 inert shells and ~5 or 6 live ones. The live ones were quite old (type M43A1 of 81mm caliber) and 1/3 of them were duds.

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How quickly could you train up a usable mortarman? I think we just had the 2 day TN rifleman special. Next Mortar and MG.

Proper mortarman training is several weeks long.

"Usable" mortarman could be instructed to the basics in a few hours.

I guess, in case of emergency you could grab any random person, show him how to open crates and prepare rounds, or how to drop them in the tube, in a matter of minutes.

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Here I try to sum up my experience, for anyone interested.

 

Τhe Greek conscript training system has gone a lot of changes and I cannot really trace them all. The current system is in place since 2012.

Nowadays conscripts stay for only a month in the basic training centers and most specialist training centers are inactive. Conscripts receive specialist training after they get posted to their units.

Since the length of service is 9 months or some 40 weeks, a conscripts service is broken into an initial period of 8 weeks of basic and "advanced" recruit training and 2-6 weeks of specialist training, with the rest 25-30 weeks following the operational training cycle of the unit/formation.

 

I didn't keep any log of my service so I have to write by memory.

 

week 1:

Reporting to recruit camp.

Medical examinations and other bereaucracy.

Placed to a recruit company of 250 recruits.

The company has one captain, some 10 NCOs and a few (5-10) conscript instructors.

No free time

 

weeks 2-3:

We learned basic stuff about military: regulations, hierarchy, some history, military prayers (yes!);

We did a lot of drill; We were shown several times how the right way to make the bed is;

Military training was almost non-existant: we learnt the basics of camouflage; we did crawling a few times, as well as other silent moving ways; we did an exercise for how to silently kill sentries (approach from the back, pull his chin, stab his lower lung, cushion the falling body -it was a funny drill since we practiced to each other); we weren't issued rifles, although during a couple of classes they brought out some and we took turns playing with them; we marched to a range some 7km away, shot 5 rounds at 100 meters and marched back; that was a hard march because we kept a pretty fast pace; I also got blisters

 

week 4:

Preparations for the oathing ceremony; rehearsals of the oath and many hours of parading daily; oathing ceremony on Friday, then short leave

 

week 5:

Return from leave. We learn our transfers. Some of us, incl. me, are loaded on buses and leave. I report to my battalion for the next 8 months, at 2 am on Thursday.

On Thursday morning we are issued our materials for the rest of our service: M16A2 rifle, helmet, gear etc. The next days are “acclimatization week”. We don’t do duties or training but we do a fair amount of chores.

 

weeks 6-8:

The “advanced” basic course. Basically, we did the common stuff that all people here mentioned. We were grouped into a training company. A captain was responsible for the training over the next 5 weeks, and was aided by one or two second lieutenants and some reserve officer cadets as well as several contract soldiers (corporals and sergeants).

We learned basic stuff about squad composition and formations. We learned patrol movement techniques and hand signal communication. We drilled a bit, also in the night for the patrol movements. We did several times dry fire and movement exercises (a lot of sweat!), both as attack as well as breaking contact (backwards). We were supposed to also do it with live ammo, but turned out there was not sufficient quantity (our captain was given only some 150 cartridges for 40 recruits). We went only three times to the range. Lack of ammo. We shot from prone position at 100 meters and observed our results. We shot a couple of times from standing position in “instinctive” shooting. We shot from prone position at 300 meters but we did not observe our results. Supposedly a reserve officer was collecting the results. We did a short two-hour map reading exercise. We made a 10 km march with load (25kg) and later a 20 km march. We were shown some basic demolition stuff, use of claymore mines. We were shown the available optical sights of the battalion: night vision, red dots, magnification sights. I don’t remember well –I never saw them again. We were shown the use of chemical masks, but I was absent. We did a lot of precision drills, now with rifle. We did some bayonet training in the air.

We did A LOT of guard duty (sentry duty). We slept very little. By the end of the course I was basically having illusions during guard duty. Others too.

 

weeks 9-10:

Mortar specialty training. First week on a 60mm mortar, second week on an 81mm mortar. Very basic stuff. We shot the inert rounds in front of the commander and wrote an exam.

 

weeks 11-40 (or so):

I was posted as clerk to an office, but it does not appear in any official document. Officially I was just a mortar operator. As a clerk I missed out a lot of training. What I did was:

 

-A course of rope climbing and knot tying

-Seven or so 20km marches. Also a “50km” (read 42km) march followed by a visit to the range. Marches were with 25kg load plus stuff (eg MAG machinegun, radio, medical pack).

ETA:During 20km marches we did one stop midway, for around 20 minutes. During our 42km march we did three stops, but they were short, ie 5-15 minutes. At the third stop I had barely enough time to change socks. The stops were not evenly spread. The distance between the third stop and the finish was very long -about 4.5 hours of marching. The march lasted a total of 10 hours. At the end I had run out of water and felt dizzy. Approaching the finish, we were chanitng songs. A fucking reserve officer cadet kept yelling at me for not being lively enough... (repressed memories coming to the surface...)

-Three (separate) weeks of night fighting exercises. Basically convoy ambushes, raids on enemy facilities and map reading exercises.

-Two “shooting” weeks. Basically we mortarmen prepared to shoot the mortars, but the first shooting was cancelled. In the second shooting we went to the range with 4 mortars (our platoon) and 24 shells. Other specialties shot their rifles, machineguns, threw live grenades and whatnot. As part of the first we attacked on a hill as a rifle company. I realized the complexity of company tactics, which is more than just the sum of squad tactics.

-One week of “small unit tactics”. I did a fire and movement run with 20 live rounds in two magazines (so that we had to change mag)

-One week of built-up areas fighting. Room clearing, corridor movements and such.

 

Things I missed:

-I missed the field training week because I was left behind to do guard duty. Most conscripts did.

-One of the built-up areas fighting courses, including its intereresting final phase (attack on an enemy camp)

-Water obstacle crossing course

-Defensive tactics week

-anti-aircraft tactics week (I am curious what that was)

-demolitions week

-first-aid week

-mine warfare week

-winter living week: this was cancelled due to lack of snow

-amphibious raiding week

-other stuff that I cannot recall

 

 

Facilities were basic but not nearly as bad as Chino's Taiwan experience ( :lol: ). Our problem was that a lot of stuff was broken and there was no prospect of repair. Thus even though we had normal "turkish" toilets (a hole in the floor), we did not avoid the "shitmen" (equivalent of snowmen, ie piles of stacked shit). There was typically no warm water, and people in the winter didn't wash for weeks. Heating was very little, temperature in the barracks in the winter was constantly in single digits. The barracks felt always filthy even though we cleaned every day. We had lots of toads (!) in the summer. In the summer we had a huge bed-bug problem. Thankfully bed-bugs die out in low temperatures. We constantly had rats, despite our best efforts to kill them. They just kept appearing.

As I said earlier in this thread, we did lots of guard duty. Guard duty would be (most often) sentry duty, followed by barracks guard duty, patrol duty, rapid-reaction-group duty. There was also kitchen duty which I avoided completely, basically because I was 26 years old, and the NCO responsible for duties decided to spare me from that. I was not above garbage collection duty however. The mess halls produce A LOT of rotting garbage.

Edited by rohala
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Very interesting! Thanks for taking the time to post. :) Interesting different approach to basic/specialist training.

 

As a mortar operator, and by extension also a rifleman, myself, I see that the difference in ammuntion consumption is chaotic. Obviously, since I served in the midst of an economic crisis with the Greek military suffering heavily, the ammo we consumed was abnormally little, but even pre-crisis I doubt out soldiers got to shoot nearly as much as you.

 

As part of my training I (not I per se, but the tube I was crew of) shot ~14 inert shells and ~5 or 6 live ones. The live ones were quite old (type M43A1 of 81mm caliber) and 1/3 of them were duds.

 

I think we were lucky due to the post CW drawdown reduction in army size and the decomissioning of many mortar forts. Switzerland had huge war stocks of ammo and as late as 2000 we were still mostly using mortar ammo that was produced before the early 90's.

 

Late 2000's one did a hear of some ammo types being tight, though I guess relative to what was available until then and I've never heard of anything close to what you experienced.

 

How quickly could you train up a usable mortarman? I think we just had the 2 day TN rifleman special. Next Mortar and MG.

 

Only 2 jobs really need training. ?Gun layer? responsible for the sight, and the gun commander (also a soldier) who's on the radio with FC getting the fire elements. A week should be enough in both cases. However this means more or less one on one instruction and the trainee working his job on the equipment for several hours every day.

 

However getting the mortar set up and packing it up in the desired times takes 3-4 people who know what they are doing and actually takes longer to get right.

 

Junior FO,

 

Do you feel like skills were retained sufficiently between training, or was there a significant degree of atrophy?

 

Up to platoon level, if the skill is ingrained and the refresher was done every year, the people were up to speed in a day. If the refresher training only happens every 2-3 years then it takes at least a week to reach the same standard. Atrophy accelerates significantly with time.

 

Until the 2004 reforms the general philosophy was to train specialists working within specialized units. I think we had at least half a dozen different kinds of infantry (foot, mountain, motorized, mechanized, security, fortress protection, mobilization area protection etc.) each with training and the refreshers tailored to their expected environment/job.

 

However, as part of the 2004 reforms, it was decided to try and copy the international model of everybody being able to do everything and infantry types were reduced to motorized/mechanized with motorized becoming nominally multirole (mechanized stayed focused on combined arms). In parallel, the reduction in infantry battalions has led to every second year being taken up by security duty, disaster relief, etc. So infantry basic training became broader but less deep, and conventional company level training only gets done every second year with company live fire exercises being something that only happens every 3-4 years. The atrophy is very visible. This affects mortars less, since if possible they are detached to do their thing independently. However the mortar company is normally used to top up the infantry companies as needed if on security duty.

 

It is also nearly impossible to train up somebody on a new system/equipment/procedure within a 3 week refresher, it doesn't really stick and decays quickly. So when new equipment or training procedure etc. is implemented, it takes several years until it can be considered as implemented, de facto only once most of the unit had it as part of basic.

Edited by Junior FO
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Conscript 86-87. Duration 10 months.

First 1-2 months were basic, learn to shoot, march, raise tent, make bed, be on time...

Following 5-6 months were more training in your speciality, for me communication.

Last 2-3 months placed in a "real" unit.

Funnily enough much of our practicing was live - we hunted for submarines or suspicious divers in the archipelago.

Edited by Stefan Fredriksson
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could you write more about your experiences and system? i had one acquaintance who had served in sov. army and later , as NCO of EDF, visited swedish milit. (mid 90´s i guess). he said that he was at first non-plussed when the whole army went home for weekend, but what followed on monday morning till friday evening left his jaw drop on the floor, in most positive sense.

 

heh, when i visited my relatives in sweden 1993, on mantelpiece of my host was a picture of him, a refugee´s son, standing in honorary guard in front of royal palace. white belts, helmet, CG SMG , and , since it was in early 70´s , hairnet+ponytail :D

 

then i met my cousins , one of them had just finished his service in arctic rangers. unfortunately i did´nt ask him about his experiences

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