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#21 bd1

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Posted 02 October 2015 - 0738 AM

oh and about the marches, i guess 60km. in estonian landscape might be easier than in greece :) .

 

nco school end march was back in my day 120km./under 24hrs though


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#22 carrierlost

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Posted 02 October 2015 - 0824 AM

What proportion of Estonian men serve in the military? In wikipedia there is a mention that there are 2,700 conscripts serving in the army. Given the Estonian demographics the annual conscript class should be some 7,000 men, although perhaps up to 30% of them would be ethnic Russians. Russians, based on bd1's description, were not excluded in the 1990s. Are they today? Are medically unfit persons excluded (in Greece, except for extreme cases, medically unfit persons do unarmed service of normal duration).

 

You go to conscription if you are Estonian citizen. Some of the ethnic russians/their parents chose Estonian citizenship, some Russian passport, some didnt make a choice (they have so called aliens passport and no citizenship of any country). Some of this is based on practicality of moving across border with Russia as Estonian citizens are demanded a visa by Russia, the other kind dont.

 

Here is a video I stumbled upon the other day shot by a local ethnic Russian during exercise this spring. If you listen carefully  some Russian words can be heard when he runs toward firing position etc.

 

 

In beginning of 1990s university studends didnt need to go but that was only for couple of years if I remember, after that everyone goes if physically fit.

The annual number of conscripts that they have target is 3200  per year. Some women also serve if they so choose.


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#23 rohala

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Posted 02 October 2015 - 1151 AM

our percentage of serving is too small, because
- the non-citizens or citizens of other countries don´t serve
- way stricter health demands (iirc in finland they take 70-80%, but half unit goes morning run, rest with health waivers take morning walk :blink: ) - but this is an issue everywhere nowadays i guess
- the most important , take a look of our population pyramid - it was decided by military that they will not expand first when the boomers -born in late 80´s- will hit the service age, because they will have to build infrastructure for that , equip, find trainers (manpower for that will have to come from somewhere too) and then downsize 5 years later...
- there never was much of alternative services , there was a police/forces of interior regiment (inf. train and riot stuff, would have been really useful nowadays :unsure: , but that was closed in end of 1990-s + there were para-military fire service/rescue companies that bolstered numbers of prof. firefighters , that were quite useful too).
 
at least that´s the official version, which i personally am not happy with....

actually the biggest problem back at my day that i forgot to write was that university students were not conscripted - that was left-over from sov.-era and kept many of the best and brightest away, many of whom have now joined Defence League and are active there. that at least was changed late 90´s

You go to conscription if you are Estonian citizen. Some of the ethnic russians/their parents chose Estonian citizenship, some Russian passport, some didnt make a choice (they have so called aliens passport and no citizenship of any country). Some of this is based on practicality of moving across border with Russia as Estonian citizens are demanded a visa by Russia, the other kind dont.
 
(...)

In beginning of 1990s university studends didnt need to go but that was only for couple of years if I remember, after that everyone goes if physically fit.
The annual number of conscripts that they have target is 3200  per year. Some women also serve if they so choose.

Thanks for the info. :)

@bd1
The fluctuation of the demographic siezes is a very serious aspect. In Greece we have the problem that besides the reduction of conscript service from 18 months in 2000 to 9 months in 2009 and afterwards, the size of the annual conscript class was 87,463 men in 2000 and 53,788 today (2015)!! In combination with the inability to hire more professionals the Greek army plans regarding manpower have gone completely awry.

When I said "unarmed service" I meant military service. Greece is like Finalnd, in the sense that most (pehaps 90%) of men do military service. An alternative, non-military service, also exists, per the EU regulations, but I don't know much about it. I don't know anyone who did non-military alternative service, although I do know a few who did unarmed military service. The reasons for some of those that I know were: asthma, an epilepsy incident as an infant, obesity, and an injured knee that had been surgically operated.
 

oh and about the marches, i guess 60km. in estonian landscape might be easier than in greece :) .

nco school end march was back in my day 120km./under 24hrs though

It is possible that Greek landscape is harder than Estonian, but still, I find it hard to believe that Estonian NCOs candidates marched 120km in 24 hours. Do you perhaps not mean 24hours as in "a day", but 24 hours of marching broken in segments?

Edited by rohala, 02 October 2015 - 1152 AM.

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#24 bd1

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Posted 02 October 2015 - 1323 PM

well our start was around noon and we were supposed to be back there in 24 hrs. there was iirc 3-5 checkpoints, in one there was minor equipment check (well, more like -open your bags to show there are no pillows stuffed in instead of your issue stuff), . we could have done it 3 hours less than we did it , since we did a smoking-pause 2 km. before finish line and could not get up for 2 hours and we also took a nap in swamp, maybe 15 min., but getting on move after that was a bitch. after finish i just curled into truck and slept all way back to base. mind you, it took me 5 days till i could get stand straight, the knees did not go fully straight.

 

fastest team did it in 13 hours, but these three were crazy and they basicly just jogged.

 

edited to add., i did a quick google on est. mil. board and in 90´s such test as part of soldier exam was norm., at least in Kuperjanov Lt.Inf btl. regular soldier had to do 100km., recon plt. 120km.. equipment of course did not include body armor, helmet was back then old soviet steel one. backpack was around 20kg., plus winter equipment, 2 ex-BW dry food packages. most important was to change socks at any spare moment. some units back then issued 2 AT-mines to carry till the first checkpoint, so that would be addit. 2x10kg.

 

 

nowadays 50-70km. is probably more likely


Edited by bd1, 02 October 2015 - 1326 PM.

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#25 chino

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Posted 02 October 2015 - 1330 PM

Ok, here goes...

 

Served conscription in Singapore in two parts: Full-time for 2 years from 1983 to 1985. Basic for 3 months, then posted to REMF in Infrantry Brigade HQ Intelligence Branch. Second part as a reservist that lasted from 1987 to 1997 when I left Singapore to live and work overseas. Reservist means 1 in-camp training (ICT) per year that lasts up to 3-weeks. In reservist, I first served my old function in Intelligence Branch of Infantry Battalion before being posted to company line as a rifleman.

A bit of background to Singapore military. We were then, as now, the most modern and oddly, the largest (including reservists allegedly 300,000 men) and most well-armed military in SE Asia. Our doctrine was probably to have enough men and material to survive a fight simultaneously with our two giant Islamic neighbours Malaysia and Indonesia. Diplomatically, our government will always trying to woo Indonesia to be a close friend. Most Indonesian presidents are friends with us but there was at least one - Habibie - who hated us. The Malaysians have ever been warm to us and constantly threatened to stop supplying us with badly-needed water etc.

Israel helped us set up our military in the late 60's based off their conscription, reservist and mobilisation system. I have uncles whom were trained by one-armed IDF vets or people missing an eye. Very tough training.

Singapore also produces pretty decent weapons from rifles, LMG, HMG, LAW, 40mm AGL, AFVs, SPG and towed artillery. Some are quite innovative example the HMG which can feed two types of ammo being dual feed, and lighter than the M2 Browning. We produce all our own ammunition types and is the largest 40mm grenade producer in the world supplying even the UK.

In terms of navy we have stealth frigates, missile corvettes, submarines, and remotely piloted armed boats.

In terms of armour we have about 120 modified Leopard IIs, and the rest are mostly locally-made stuff with US engines.

Our airforce is probably the strongest asset currently operating about 70 F16C/D, about 40(?) F-15, about 60 modified F5, and also Apache Longbows. The US is a close ally who sells us pretty much every weapon not made available to many other buyers. They consider us an important strategic partner due to our location especially since they abandoned The Philippines air and naval base. And also a cash cow since we spend most of our defence budget on US weapons to buy the friendship. UN munitions sold to us includes Smart bombs, AIM-120, Aim 9 Sidewinders and Sparrows, HIMARS MLRS and apparently even CBU.

 

The Global Hawk is again being offered/considered.

Israel also sells us a lot of stuff including Spike ATGM, Python-4 AAM and Harpoon ASM.

So being a conscript in Singapore can be a pretty interesting job with lots of top of the line toys to play with.

On top of that, we do a lot of overseas training due to our limited space of 700 sqkm home ground. They include Thailand, Brunei, Taiwan, Australia, US. The cold weather is what we really suffer from when training overseas as we have summer tropical climate 365 days a year.

Training was pretty serious and instructors during my time were physically and verbally very rough with recruits. Every year, till today, conscripts die sometimes from training accidents, sometimes heatstroke, and sometimes suicide. The latter is less today as training had been "softened" along with the fact that Singapore has grown very prosperous and people have become even softer. But a few years back one trainee died after being dunked repeatedly into water during interrogation training. And one guy was lost during jungle training in Brunei and later found dead.

During basic, we are supposed to complete 3 route marches of 8km, 16km and 24km in Full Battle Order. The 8km ironically was toughest since it was cross country going up and down small hills in scorching heat with strict water rationing. And a lot of punishments were given out along the way. The 16 and 24km were easier since they go through roads and the 24 is overnight meaning it is quite cool.

We have to pass the Standard Obstacle Course (for my unit only in Skeleton battle Order - i.e. no full packs) which is about 1.5km of hell. We also have a tough marksmanship test that include running and shooting followed by a night shoot with tracers.

We fire a lot of live rounds even as a reservist. Apparently, in a 3-week reservist training, we fire more live rounds than a Malaysian regular soldier does in one year. Of course, this does not make us better soldiers than the Malaysians as they are regulars, tough and 10 times better jungle fighters compared to us city-bred conscripts from Singapore.

During my time we used the locally-made M16S1 (A1-equivalent). I have thrown a SFG-87 live frag grenade (frightening), fired Ulitmax LMG, M203. Our infantry sections are pretty well-armed with 1 to 2 LMGs, 1 to 2 M203, 2 LAWs and 1 sharpshooter. They are 7-men sections where the NCO is usually the only guy carrying only a standard weapon.

Pay was also pretty good as a conscript. In the 1980's I received SGD 110 per month eventually being raised to SGD 160/month as a Lance Corporal. In today's term that is probably worth SGD250 per month or about USD 170.

As a reservist, the pay could be sky high since the government would pay you the equivalent of your civilian pay. By the time I did my last 3-week stint as a reservist, I was paid USD 3,000, for 3 weeks as a Corporal Platoon Runner (radioman), and all the live ammo you can fire. I wasn't complaining. It was tough but fun for someone who just worked the last 11-month in an aircon office.

Apologies if I sound like bragging because I am. It is the only thing I feel I can boast about Singapore, and of my past. And also, because most people probably can't even find little Singapore on a world atlas, I feel we need to give some background about our military and the strategic threats to us that breeds this siege mentality.

I was back in Singapore a few months ago and I saw on TV during the weekend flashing code words for a military mobilisation exercise. 20 years after I'd left Singapore, nothing has changed.


Edited by chino, 05 October 2015 - 1354 PM.

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#26 Gregory

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Posted 02 October 2015 - 1332 PM

A blog written by Estonian soldier in 2013 about his service. Interesting guy.
https://sqroot.eu/20...rvice-july-2013
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#27 rohala

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Posted 03 October 2015 - 1735 PM

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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#28 bojan

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Posted 03 October 2015 - 1900 PM

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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#29 chino

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Posted 03 October 2015 - 2221 PM

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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#30 bojan

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Posted 03 October 2015 - 2251 PM

Back then they were part of engineers.


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#31 chino

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Posted 03 October 2015 - 2258 PM

1rnzir_neesoon.jpg

1rnzir_neesoon2.jpg

 

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, 03 October 2015 - 2317 PM.

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#32 chino

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Posted 03 October 2015 - 2302 PM

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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#33 chino

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Posted 03 October 2015 - 2310 PM

Back then they were part of engineers.

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


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#34 bojan

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Posted 03 October 2015 - 2349 PM

 

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:

kasarna-71bd40b59f6e.jpg

And rest here:

pantelej1.jpg


Edited by bojan, 04 October 2015 - 0001 AM.

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#35 chino

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Posted 04 October 2015 - 0646 AM

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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#36 Leo Niehorster

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Posted 04 October 2015 - 0710 AM

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.thejumpin...duct_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.donparris...eonardWood.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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#37 chino

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Posted 04 October 2015 - 0720 AM

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, 04 October 2015 - 1107 AM.

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#38 Yama

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Posted 04 October 2015 - 0958 AM

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:

40936.jpg

 

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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#39 rohala

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Posted 04 October 2015 - 1914 PM

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, 05 October 2015 - 0437 AM.

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#40 Rick

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Posted 05 October 2015 - 0752 AM

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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