Please introduce us to your background, where did you grow up, what were your aspirations as a young man?

I grew up in Singapore, and was fed a steady diet of twigs and leaves, with the odd serving of milk and steroids. This allowed me to reach adult proportions faster than some of my other peers. But seriously, my parents were both graphic designers, and well respected in their field, which I would presume gave me my interest in art and design. As a kid, I was very much inclined like most other kids to be a Police officer ( I liked the look of the uniform) or a Fighter Pilot (Sadly our airspace is very limited)….but alas, they were not to be, but I ended up in a career that I love nonetheless as a digital artist.

You served your mandatory  national service in the military of Singapore. Were you able to decide which unit you went to or were you “voluntold”?

Yup, thats right: 2 years plus of national service. Unfortunately, no, we are not given the choice to choose which unit we go to after Basic Military Training, although we are given the option of showing an interest in a vocation, such as armor, infantry, airforce, etc. In the end, while I was originally selected to go into an MP unit, I ended up in the Guards formation. Our Guardsmen are basically elite infantry/ Heliborne assault troops, and a tier above regular infantry, and one tier below the local Commandos.

Marc at Basic Military Training or BMT

Was there was a selection process for your Recce unit, if so what was it like?

Unlike regular elite units in the US Armed forces where one might apply for a selection into a specific unit, our selection is much simpler, if crude: You simply get posted to the vocation, and if you cant make the cut during training, you are dropped. This is a conscript army after all, and I would assume looking for volunteers for a tough and demanding unit may not have the same number of keen participants like in the US, where most see getting into elite units as a form of personal pride and challenge. So, basically after 2 months plus of Basic, I was posted into the Guards formation. This in itself has another further 8 week training course, with phases and tests including weapons handling, squad based tactics, navigation and rappelling and heli-rappelling. And lots of hassling! I had a platoon sergeant ‘C’,  who was the devil during our course. He was a compact and rather short dude, about 1.6+ meters of height but could the man go. He would routinely drill us for PT and kit turnouts, nothing that was up to his spec was given a severe dose of PT and hassling. He was often seen training by himself at night past lights out jogging around the camp with his fieldpack filled with sand. That said, he was one of our best commanders and highly respected. Last I heard, he was in the Special Operations Force, our local equivalent of Delta.

Marc running the O-Course!

Upon successful completion of the Guards Conversion Course (GCC), my unit was then awarded our coveted khaki colored beret, and sent for BRCC (Brigade Reconnaissance Conversion Course). This was another 8 weeks or so of heavy lessons in bike riding (off road scramblers), terrain navigation, small unit tactics, and other tests like our 72klick navigation exercise. Once this last bit of training was successfully completed, we were awarded a boonie hat with the ‘Recon’ tab, and finally christened as full fledged ‘Recce Troopers’.

What was your unit’s official designation and what was it’s primary mission?