For all the army reservists out there, you may have read about an innovative business idea called Helping Arms in Laundry, Packaging and Storage for NSMen in ICT (HALPS). After 3 weeks of reservist training, cleaning and storing your issued equipment can be a real hassle. So some enterprising folks have come up with HALPS.
Basically, the service will cover three areas: Laundry, where uniforms, and other equipment such as field packs will be collected and cleaned; storage, where items will be stored in a warehouse; and packaging, where servicemen’s items will be replenished, packed, and sent to the gates of the camp at the start of the next ICT.
Sounds like a brilliant idea? Well, the army doesn’t really think so. Although the army doesn’t exactly frown upon HALPS, it cautions that NSMen must ensure that they are still operationally ready. Some have also asked what if an actual war breaks out? Your equipment that you need for battle will be stuck in some storage warehouse somewhere. ICT and mobilisation exercises have a schedule but war does not follow a schedule.
When the button is pressed, surely you can’t tell your officer “Wait ah sir, I trying to find all my barang barang”.
More importantly, as a soldier with the mission of defending your family and country, your personal equipment is your personal responsibility. Even WP MP Pritam Singh agrees with this (below).
Lest we forget, the SAF exists not solely to conduct "training", "mobilisation" or "exercises". It exists to defend Singapore and at the heart of that role is personal responsibility and ownership.
Your equipment will keep you alive and help you to fight alongside your army mates. Why leave it in the care of strangers? In any case, the cost of this service is $360 per year. Seems a bit steep to me.
In an age where the army outsources many things in the name of efficiency and “care for soldiers” (like cookhouse food and transport to training areas), surely maintaining your own barang barang should still be the soldier’s responsibility?