National Service is the backbone of Singapore’s defence. The basis of the establishment of the Singapore Army was to ensure that Singapore was equipped to conduct its own defence preparations and to reduce its reliance on the external forces for security. The first two regular battalions formed were the First Singapore Infantry Regiment (1 SIR) and the Second Singapore Infantry Regiment (2 SIR) in 1957 and 1962 respectively. However, it was only in January 1966 that Singapore gained complete control of the two battalions from Malaysia after her separation in August 1965.
On 23 December 1965, the Singapore Army Bill was passed in parliament. Full-time National Service (NS) was subsequently introduced in 1967 with the passing of the NS (Amendment) Act, making it compulsory for all able-bodied young men aged 18 years and above to be enlisted. The NS scheme had a profound effect on the Singapore Army as Operationally Ready National Servicemen, better known as NSmen, would form the bulk of the Army’s fighting force.
By the 1960s, the Singapore Army had grown in strength with the formation of our first Artillery Battalion (20 SAB) in June 1967, and two new Infantry Battalions (3 SIR and 4 SIR) formed in August 1967. This was followed by the formation of the first Armour Battalion (41 SAR) in November 1968 and the first Commando Battalion (1 Cdo Bn) in December 1969.
Today, the Singapore Army has evolved to become a capable and effective fighting force of the 3rd Generation SAF, capable of a full-spectrum of operations. With the changing nature of conflict, the Singapore Army will adapt to the evolving security environment as part of the transformation effort to build the Next Gen SAF. The Next Gen SAF will be positioned better in the future, continue to be an effective military force and provide a strong defence against aggression.