Nee Soon Camp

Nee Soon Camp - History

It was established in 1967 as part of the SAF's expansion program. The camp was built on a piece of land that was formerly a rubber plantation and was named after the nearby Nee Soon village. The development of the camp was completed in 1970, and it was officially opened by then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Initially, the camp was used by the Army's infantry units, but over the years, it has been home to many other military units. Today, it houses the SAF's 3rd Division, the Military Police Command, and the Republic of Singapore Air Force's Air Defence and Operations Command.

Nee Soon Camp - Facilities

It is a massive military complex with many facilities and amenities to support the needs of its occupants. The camp covers an area of approximately 1,400 acres and is home to many training facilities, workshops, and storage areas. Some of the key facilities in the camp include:

  1. Training Areas: it has many training areas that are used by various military units for their training exercises. These areas include firing ranges, obstacle courses, and simulated urban environments.
  2. Workshops: The camp has several workshops that are used to repair and maintain military equipment. These workshops include vehicle repair workshops, weapons repair workshops, and electronics repair workshops.
  3. Storage Areas: The camp has many storage areas where military equipment and supplies are stored. These storage areas include ammunition depots, fuel depots, and food storage facilities.
  4. Sports Facilities: The camp has several sports facilities that are used by military personnel for their fitness and recreation. These facilities include a gymnasium, a swimming pool, a football field, and a basketball court.
  5. Accommodation: The camp has many accommodation blocks where military personnel live. These accommodation blocks are equipped with all the necessary facilities to ensure that the occupants are comfortable.

Nee Soon Camp - Functions

It serves several functions for the Singapore Armed Forces. Some of the key functions of the camp include:

  1. Training: it is primarily used for military training. The camp's training facilities are used by various military units to conduct their training exercises. These exercises are designed to prepare soldiers for combat situations and ensure that they are adequately equipped to handle any challenges that may arise.
  2. Maintenance: The camp's workshops and storage areas are used to repair and maintain military equipment and supplies. This is a crucial function that ensures that the equipment is always in good condition and ready for use.
  3. Logistics: The camp is home to the SAF's 3rd Division and the Republic of Singapore Air Force's Air Defence and Operations Command. These units are responsible for providing logistical support to the rest of the military. They ensure that the troops are well-supplied and that the necessary equipment and supplies are always available.
  4. Security: The camp is also home to the Military Police Command, which is responsible for maintaining security within the camp. The Military Police Command ensures that all the occupants of the camp are safe and that any security threats are dealt with promptly.

In conclusion, it is a critical military facility in Singapore. It serves several functions, including training, maintenance, logistics, and security. The camp's facilities and amenities are designed to ensure that the occupants are comfortable and have everything.

A Comprehensive Guide to Nee Soon Camp

Nee Soon Camp is a crucial Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) camp located in the northern part of Singapore within the Choa Chu Kang housing estate. It houses the Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC), where full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) undergo their mandatory Basic Military Training (BMT) for two months.

Nee Soon Camp is the oldest SAF camp. Built-in 1966, it is where the National Service was founded. Spanning 108 hectares, it is critical to transitioning civilians into military life as full-fledged armed forces members. Key facts:

-Houses the SAF's Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC)

Location: Along Mandai Road in Choa Chu Kang housing estate

Training capacity of up to 1700 NSF recruits at any time

Comprises purpose-built facilities like field training areas and live firing ranges

Rich heritage as Singapore's first military camp and heart of BMT since 1967

Highly strategic location for mobilisation due to proximity to Tengah Air Base

With its heritage and continual upgrades over the decades, Nee Soon Camp remains pivotal in moulding each new batch of Singaporean NSFs.

Background and History of Nee Soon Camp

Nee Soon Camp was conceived in alignment with the nation's urgent need to build a professional armed force after Singapore's unexpected independence in 1965.

State Land Acquisition

In November 1965, large swathes of former rubber plantations and jungle along Mandai Road were acquired by the State. This became designated State Land for defence use.

Strategic Location

The site's proximity to Tengah Air Base, where the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) first squadrons were based, allowed for easy mobilisation. This made it strategically ideal for Singapore's first military camp.

Ongoing Threats

With ongoing Konfrontasi tensions, Singapore needed to train National Servicemen to defend its sovereignty and security quickly. A permanent camp for BMT was critical.

Basic Infrastructure

By March 1966, basic infrastructure like accommodation blocks, mess halls, parade squares and offices were ready. Nee Soon Camp was officially opened on 29 March 1966 by Singapore’s first defence minister, Dr Goh Keng Swee.

The camp began operations in 1967, marking a milestone for National Service and Defence in Singapore. Nee Soon Camp had come to life out of urgent necessity during a turbulent period.

Nee Soon Camp Heritage Trail

To commemorate Nee Soon Camp's heritage, MINDEF and the National Heritage Board jointly unveiled a Heritage Trail in 2016 featuring ten storyboards.

Visitors can appreciate key milestones and history through preserved artefacts and accounts from pioneers who built and trained there in the 1960s. This memorialises Nee Soon Camp's contributions.

Key Infrastructure Upgrades

While retaining its heritage value, Nee Soon Camp has undergone periodic upgrades to remain a state-of-the-art BMT facility:

Upgraded training shed, obstacle course and fitness corner (2008)

New 30m indoor shooting range (2009)

New Medical Centre and Camp Recreation Centre (2010)

Modernisation of firing ranges (2012)

Upgraded cookhouse with food court concept (2012)

New Pedagogy Building, Learning Network Centre and Library (2013)

New 2-storey welfare and recreation building (2022)

A delicate balance has been struck between preserving heritage and injecting new training capabilities befitting the needs of today's NSFs.

Key Features and Infrastructure

Let's look at the critical infrastructure and facilities within Nee Soon Camp:


A helipad just outside the main gate allows VIP guests and top officers to arrive conveniently when visiting the camp.

Parade Square

The expansive parade square in the heart of the camp is used for daily parades, drills, lectures and mass ceremonies involving the entire camp cohort.

BMTC Headquarters

This building coordinates overall camp operations including administration, welfare, training coordination and safety.

Company Lines

Separate housing lines for the NSFs of each intake grouped into companies (Alpha to Hotel) within their respective battalions.


A vast, modern, air-conditioned cookhouse provides mass meal catering services for NSFs daily using mechanised kitchen systems.

Obstacle Course

It features obstacles like the Flying Fox, Commando Crawl, and Burma Bridge to build strength, endurance, and confidence.

Fitness Corner

Outdoor fitness stations like chin-up bars allow NSFs to work out. A 400m running track surrounds the field.

Firing Ranges

Live firing ranges for various weapons like SAR21 rifles, machine guns, grenades, and anti-tank weapons.

Medical Centre

Provides outpatient treatment, emergency services, dental and health support to monitor NSFs' fitness and treat injuries.

Lecture Theatres

Air-conditioned facilities equipped with audio-visual systems for instructional lessons to NSFs in classroom settings.

Simulation Centres

I am using computer simulator systems for weapons, driving, flight control and mission planning to enhance the realism of the training.

Learning Studios

Technology-enabled collaborative learning environments for self-paced instruction through interactive multimedia to enrich learning.

With these well-designed facilities, Nee Soon Camp provides holistic support from living needs to the multi-modal training requirements of BMT.

Heritage Site

Beyond infrastructure, the camp's grounds also house notable heritage artefacts:

Old model barracks from the 1960s are preserved to showcase the austere living conditions of past NSFs

Anti-tank weapons like the M40 recoilless rifle were used in the early years when counter-insurgency training was critical.

MT Driver Training School building, one of the camp's first structures dating back to 1966

Pillbox used in World War II along former British naval base fence line

Rubber trees dating back 80 years are remnants of the camp's plantation past

Various heritage sites visually encapsulate Nee Soon Camp's journey through the years as a witness to multiple generations of NSFs.

Training Facilities at Nee Soon Camp

Let's look at the diverse range of purpose-built training facilities within Nee Soon Camp:

Shooting Ranges

Outdoor shooting ranges for firing different weapons in kneeling, sitting and prone positions. Useful for evaluation and marksmanship practice.

Live Firing Ranges

Dedicated ranges for live firing drills using ammunition to train weapon handling and accuracy under fire realistically.

Driving Circuit

Training roads and platforms to learn driving skills for vehicles like lorries and Land Rovers as part of specific vocations.

Dockside Simulation

Mock-ups featuring ramps and platforms immerse NSFs in simulated naval dockside environments for realistic training.

Helicopter Training Devices

Partial mock helicopter cabins with cockpit controls provide familiarisation for aircrew vocations before handling actual aircraft.

Safety Gallery Ranges

Allows safe exhibition firing of advanced anti-tank weapons for hands-on practice before live firing.

Military Exercises

Nee Soon Camp's grounds facilitate field training exercises practising battle tactics involving company-level foot drills, attack manoeuvres, patrols and weapon handling.

The diverse, tailored training facilities enable Nee Soon Camp to prepare NSF suitably based on their designated vocations after BMT.

Key Training Departments in Nee Soon Camp

Various training departments within Nee Soon Camp jointly develop NSFs into professional armed forces members:

Basic Military Training CenThe frontline line is the unit responsible for direct training and command of full-time NSF recruits undergoing the two-month-long BMT.

Specialist & Warrant Officer Advanced School

Develops 3rd Sergeant and Warrant Officer ranks as subject matter experts and leaders through further education.

SAF Military Police Academy

Trains Service Police and Provost units enforce discipline, security and investigations in the SAF.

SAF Medical Training Institute

Equips combat medics with critical lifesaving skills like administering field medicine and carrying out rescue and tactical evacuation.

SAF Driving and Servicing Institute

Teachers are driving military vehicles like lorries and armoured vehicles. It also trains in vehicle repair and maintenance skills.

Tan Tock Seng Hospital ITC

Partnership providing medic refresher training for combat medics and medical response teams.


Oversees the education, training and evaluation across SAF professional military education institutions to uphold standards.

Beyond BMT, Nee Soon Camp moulds diverse expertise from combat medics to highly trained Warrant Officers through its various schools.

Heritage Milestones

Over 50 years, Nee Soon Camp has marked many historic firsts:

1966: Commissioning of SAF's first permanent camp

1967: First BMT intake conducted at Nee Soon for 2,000 NSFs

1968: First Specialist Cadet School course held

1969: First Signals Tactical Wing course

1970: First Warrant Officer School course

1971: First battalion-style BMT with companies introduced

1976: First SAF Military Police Training School course

1985: Start of medic training at Nee Soon Camp

1995: First upgraded indoor air-conditioned ranges

2007: New advanced computer simulation training technologies

From its pioneering first intake in 1967 to recent technological advancements, Nee Soon Camp has helped mould over 500,000 NSFs. It marked the dawn of Singapore's own professional national defence force.

Phases of Training at Nee Soon Camp

Let us look at the typical BMT phases recruits undergo at Nee Soon Camp over nine weeks:

Week 1-3: Transition and Basic Training Phase recruits are eased into highly regimented military life through discipline, pastoral care and basic skill training.

Week 4-6: Advanced Training Phase 1 This intensifies training to hone mission-critical skills like marksmanship, urban ops, fieldcraft, and grenades.

Week 7-9: Advanced Training Phase 2 Training focuses on advanced warfighting skills such as sophisticated weapons, simulated battle environments, tactical communication, and group manoeuvres.

Week 9: Passing Out Ceremony Graduating NSFs attend a formal Passing Out Parade officiated by senior commanders and guests.

Nee Soon Camp systematically builds up multi-dimensional skills from individual soldiering to team operations to prepare NSFs for their subsequent vocational postings.

Typical BMT Day

While training rhythms vary daily, here is an example of a daily schedule:

0600 - Reveille

Wake up for morning preparation, like showering, oral hygiene, and dressing up.

0630 - Breakfast

Quick breakfast at the cookhouse.

0700 - Morning Physical Training

Conduct fitness routines like strength training, running, and static exercises.

0800 - Morning Parade

Fall in, attendance taking, instructional briefings, daily orders and announcements.

0900 - Training Activities

Conduct daily classroom lessons, field training, maintenance routines, and shooting practice. Breaks in between.

1200 - Lunch

Return to camp lines for lunch and rest.

1300 - Resume Training Activities

Continue with drills, tactical simulations, and educational lessons.

1730 - Evening Roll Call

Fall in for attendance and headcount before dinner.

1800 - Dinner

Dinner in the camp cookhouse.

1900 - Shower Time

Freshen up after a long day of outdoor training.

2000 - Admin Time

Weapon cleaning, kit inspection, personal Time, ironing uniforms etc

2100 - Lights Out

Rest for the next day. Recharge!

Nee Soon Camp keeps new NSF productively occupied from dawn till night on a tight regimen of training activities interspersed with meals, breaks and personal administration. NSFs quickly adapt to the military rigour and rhythm.

Meals and Rations

To power the recruits through their demanding training, the camp cookhouse provides balanced nourishment:

Catering for up to 3000 people per meal session

Nutritious menu designed by SAF dieticians

Typical dishes are baked fish, chicken curry, braised vegetables, eggs, and deck hardbread.

Meal times: Breakfast 0700-0900hrs, Lunch 1130-1400hrs, Dinner 1730-1930hrs

Halal, vegetarian and medical diets catered for

Beverages like milk, coffee, tea, water and isotonic drinks

Fruits and snacks like energy bars are provided at training sites

Food is an important morale factor. The cookhouse ensures prompt meal times and varied menus to fuel NSFs daily.

Importance of Nee Soon Camp

Beyond infrastructure, Nee Soon Camp holds more profound significance:

Rite of passage for generations of Singaporean sons serving NS

Place of personal growth, resilience, teamwork and discipline

Start of a military education journey leading to specialised service vocations

Personal memories with platoon mates that bind for life

Heritage site that bore witness to Singapore's defence beginnings

Strategic location to rapidly mobilise units for security operations

Nee Soon Camp represents the crucible that forged Singapore's national defence system by transforming civilians into professional soldiers. For many Singaporeans, it marked their coming of age when answering the nation's call.

Interesting Facts about Nee Soon Camp

Here is some notable trivia about Nee Soon Camp:

In 1968, BMTC Nee Soon became the first unit to receive prestigious State Colours from President Yusof Bin Ishak.

It had Singapore's first purpose-built 30m indoor air-conditioned shooting range in 1995

Renowned composers like Dick Lee served their BMT at Nee Soon Camp in the 1970s

Recruits used to be called Trainees; the term Recruit was introduced in 1971

Some old barracks from the 1960s have been preserved on site as heritage

Future Defence Ministers like Ng Eng Hen also did their BMT at Nee Soon Camp

It houses the largest camp cookhouse in SAF, capable of preparing 20,000 meals a day

Graduation parades are held at the iconic parade square named Lothar Beck Square

A heritage gallery showcases equipment used since BMT began, like old gas masks and rifle models

Nee Soon Camp becomes part of each NSF's cherished memories and coming-of-age story. Its rich history also mirrors the SAF's formative defence journey.

Contributions to National Defence

For over 50 years, Nee Soon Camp has made immense contributions to Singapore's national defence:

Fundamental milestone that began SAF's drive to build professional armed forces

A platform that immediately enabled National Service to take root in 1967

Home of BMT - the rite of passage that forged generations of Singaporean NSFs

Immense strategic value as SAF's key northern mobilisation hub

Helped boost defence confidence during the early years of independence when Singapore felt vulnerable

Springboard for many service members who progressed to key leadership roles in the SAF

As the heart and soul of SAF's Basic Military Training, Nee Soon Camp occupies an unparalleled position intertwined deeply with Singapore's national defence. It will continue playing a strategic role for 50 years and beyond.


As Singapore's first and oldest military camp, Nee Soon Camp is etched in the hearts of generations of Singaporean men as a heritage site that shaped their early adult lives. It symbolises duty, loyalty, service and camaraderie.

Beyond the infrastructure and training facilities, Nee Soon represents the collective memories of national service - of resilience, growth, teamwork and belonging. It is a sacred ground that ignited the spirit of the armed forces in hundreds of thousands of Singaporean soldiers.

Nee Soon Camp's outstanding contributions to moulding the SAF and protecting the nation in its formative years cannot be overstated. It will remain a national institution that strengthens the ligaments of defence for the sovereignty and security of Singapore.

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