Preparations for the monster el Nino and why would soldiers really die for…

May 13, 2014

The on going preparations for the monster El Nino can only be described as back breaking work. The sort of work where one sweats blood as it can only be hard and difficult.

This season. I’ve had to push the men eight to ten times harder than usual. Time is not on our side. I don’t suppose I am a very popular chap these days. Most of the farmhands fall silent whenever they see me coming their way. They rarely smile or even bother to make small talk. They resent me. As they see me as someone who is unreasonable, hard and implacable.

I understand. But the work has to go on….and the discipline must hold.

Living conditions in the field this time of the year can only be describe as testing – in the day, the sun is scorching. At night, it rains and all the beddings are damp, if not wet. Fortunately, dysentery and water borne diseases, the bane of field life has not hit our camp.

Moral is low. But the discipline must hold…..

In the evenings after meals when the men sit around the fire. I would usually make ir a point to spend a short time chatting with them. Though I am sure they much prefer if I just left them alone I reckon. During this soft time, I would ask about their wives and children. Many would take out photos from their wallets and we would talk about what the future holds for their kiddies…during these rare moments….it’s as if we all seem to share so many things in common that it could be said, we all stand in one straight line and as long as the moment last…we are all reminded that there is so much that still needs to be done and we are running out of time….soon El Nino will come.

We must prepare for war!

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‘Recently Singapore’s one and only ‘intellectual’ wrote again about dying for the country (don’t know why lah, but he seems of late to be fixated on getting people to die for King and country for some inexplicable reason. I just hope we are not going to war over chilli crab).

That ‘intellectual’ mentioned one way to get people to be more motivated to die for the country was to created sacred sites worthy to die for…like Times Square in New York, (though what American would die for that stretch of neon)..which to us would be probably be East Coast park, Orchard, Botanical gardens etc. But in my mind I can’t help but feel it’s quite ludicrous for anyone to die for a place. Especially in Singapore where the urban landscape is changing so fast that nothing can be termed sacred any longer. After all everything is based on $ and it’s really just another global city. So to me the idea of anyone dying for stainless steel and glass is just a very vapid idea. So for me, if I have to baby someone with that sort of infantile attitude in a platoon – I wouldn’t have the slightest problem shooting him in the leg and sending him home on a sick pass. As experience informs me, people who are prepared to die for silly causes usually get themselves and others killed unnecessarily. They’re a liability. Soldiering is after all serious business. You cannot have people with fairytales in their head.

Having said that if I had to die for a cause. Then it will probably be for the sake of someone who I love intensely. For example, if I am going to do battle and have to operate deep behind enemy lines and keep myself motivated even in hellish conditions to accomplish a mission.

I would much prefer to have a healthy mix of bachelors and family men with me rather than a bunch of confuse people who would die for some water vomiting merlion lah. If I only have that to work with, I will probably throw down my semi auto, take off my uniform and go back to my kampung to grow corn or something…if people stop and ask me why I am not fighting at the front. I will just tell them, this war is lost lah – as for me, it’s very hard if impossible to commit to something if there is no love.

But if I have just a couple of family men with me in this hypothetical platoon – then I know deep in the marrow of my bones as a commander that I have the basic raw material to work on the idea of building commitment and it’s very likely we will take that hill, plant that flag, take out that machine gun post or blow out that tank column. It will not matter how difficult or dangerous it is, it will just be done lah. No one will grumble. Not a single man. I can almost guarantee victory.

Because when you have a couple of family men in a platoon – then you know these people are not going to fight for stupid reasons like medals, a block of real estate or because they’ve been hypnotised by some cheap speech from some politician who is hunkered somewhere in the Swiss alps.

If men are going to fight on and on and on for something that requires copious amounts of stamina, discipline and commitment – what is needed is something that is the equivalent of nuclear fuel and the only thing that comes close to that construct is the idea of family…as when you have to go up against fighting men who fight for those who they cherish and love and who are willing to do anything to keep them safe…then good luck to you lah!

This is why to me, the most important thing is for a nation to continue to have babies. To me this is strategic – for lack of a better word to describe military prepareness – the baby birth rate is inversely proportional to the fighting spirit of a nation – and it’s never just military hardware, training or expenditure.

Because if all you have to work on is a platoon filled with people who don’t even care for babies, then it simply means, you’re fighting next to people who haven’t really invested that much of themselves in the idea of hope in a better tomorrow and if you don’t have that one strategic asset – then in my book, you’re defeated even before the first shot is fired. You don’t stand a chance in hell to win.

People who don’t know this should never go to war….as war will always be a very serious enterprise for only men who have no time to entertain sugary illusions. As I said, it is a terrible business.’

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