National Service (NS) provides the security and stability essential for Singapore’s progress and prosperity. Introduced in 1967, NS is now deeply entrenched as a national institution. It has evolved over the years to remain relevant and keep pace with the changes in our society and our threat environment.
Our servicemen and Regulars are at the heart of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). Since independence, NS has evolved to keep pace with the changes in our society and our threat environment. This is necessary if NS is to remain relevant.
Against this backdrop, the Committee to Strengthen NS (CSNS) was set up in March 2013 to examine how the NS system can be strengthened for the future, to better serve Singapore and Singaporeans.
The CSNS engaged more than 40,000 people from all walks of life through extensive conversations on NS. Many gave valuable feedback and useful suggestions. The consultation efforts gave us a deeper understanding of how NS is perceived by different stakeholders. The CSNS carefully examined the feedback and suggestions, and made 30 recommendations in six broad areas, which have been accepted by the government.
A Strong NS Training System
- Strengthen the NS training system by employing an additional 1,100 Regulars in the SAF, and 230 Regulars in the SPF and SCDF, to improve training and inculcate values more effectively. These Regulars will be well-versed in the latest training methods and technology. They can also better emphasise and enforce training safety. As role models, regular trainers will provide our servicemen with a better appreciation of why they train and what they are defending.
More Opportunities for National Servicemen to Contribute
- Increase leadership opportunities for our servicemen by raising the proportion of officers and specialists from 30% to 40%, to meet new operational needs.
- Increase deployment flexibility for NSFs by taking into account skills and preferences when deploying servicemen. This would maximise the contributions of NSFs, provide them with a better NS experience and meet our operational requirements.
- Provide more leadership opportunities and deployment options for servicemen in service vocations (i.e. non-combat vocations) to enable them to contribute more.
- Enhance the value proposition of NS by accrediting skills that NSFs gain during NS, and enhancing the Certificate of Service to highlight the competencies and skills gained during full-time NS.
- Provide opportunities for NSFs to contribute as SAF, SPF and SCDF Regulars on short contracts after they have completed their full-time NS. This will enable NSFs to continue to contribute to the defence and security of Singapore while honing important life skills.
- Provide scholarships to develop talents in engineering and science who will be able to contribute to the 3rd Generation SAF.
- Expand opportunities for NSmen with relevant civilian expertise to contribute to national defence and security in their areas of expertise.
The SAF Volunteer Corps
- Establish an SAF Volunteer Corps to enable the broader community, especially women, first generation PRs and new citizens, to contribute to defence and strengthen support for NS.
Recognition and Benefits for National Servicemen
- Revamp the NS Recognition Award into the NS HOME (HOusing, Medical and Education) Awards to support servicemen in housing, healthcare and education with an additional Medisave component.
- Provide life and personal accident insurance coverage for our servicemen, to cover incidents during their full-time NS and the period of their ORNS call-ups.
Expand Community Support for National Servicemen
- Increase recognition for the families of servicemen, such as through an extension of the Family Recognition Voucher (FRV) scheme. The number of NSmen who are awarded FRVs could be increased from the top 10% to the top 30% of ICT performers. The quantum for the top 10% can also be increased.
- Introduce small gifts to servicemen at significant milestones of their lives, such as marriage or the birth of their child.
- Restructure the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence to comprise (i) an Employer and Business Council; (ii) an Educational Institutions Council; and (iii) a Family and Community Council, to deepen stakeholder engagement.
- Enhance awards for employers and individuals supportive of NS. These awards include the “NS Mark” which recognises companies with pro-NS policies and human resource practices.
- Strengthen National Education efforts through the SAF Veterans’ League and Home Team Veterans, to impart core national values to the younger generation and boost community support for defence and security.
- Expand SAFRA and HomeTeamNS recreational facilities for our servicemen and their families.
- Improve community recognition by supporting community-led initiatives that recognise servicemen and raise public awareness of NS.
- Facilitate NSFs’ transition to employment and further studies after they complete full-time NS by expanding the range of companies and institutes of higher learning at career fairs.
A Positive NS Experience: Easing Administrative Restrictions
- Partner NSmen to improve their fitness by giving them more time and flexibility to meet their Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT), IPPT Preparatory Training and Remedial Training requirements.
- Increase incentive awards for the attainment of Gold, Silver and Pass with Incentive for IPPT, to recognise servicemen who put in the extra effort to keep fit.
- Engage schools and educational institutions to help pre-enlistees build up their fitness prior to full-time NS.
- Reduce enlistment wait-time for pre-enlistees to between four and six months after the completion of post-secondary education.
- Work with tertiary institutions to explore ways to reduce transition time after full-time NS.
- Change the MINDEF Notification Centre and Home Team Overseas Notification Centre requirements, such that notification will only need to be given for overseas trips of more than 14 days. This will increase convenience for NSmen.
- Implement Make-up Training for high-key ICTs, which will allow NSmen to keep pace with their ORNS training cycle.
- Allow NSmen to use electronic devices such as tablets and laptops during their ICT, in non-sensitive areas within their camps like accommodation blocks and cookhouses. This will help NSmen remain connected to their family and work during ICT.
- Deepen engagement and communication between commanders and servicemen, to achieve better unit cohesion.
- Establish NS Relations Offices in the SAF, SPF and SCDF to assist NSmen with complex administrative issues.
- Harness technology to improve NS-related touch points, such as the NS Portal, to make NS administration more efficient and user-friendly.
IPS Survey – A Strong Belief in the Need for NS
From July to September 2013, the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) conducted face-to-face interviews with more than 1,200 Singaporeans from all walks of life to better understand their perceptions and attitudes towards NS and the defence of our nation.
The IPS survey findings indicated a healthy level of support for NS. Singaporeans affirmed that NS is a vital institution for securing the peace and prosperity of our homeland. Most also believe that NS reinforces our Singaporean identity and feel that the values and skills our young men pick up from NS training are valuable for character building.
Respondents to the IPS survey said that more should be done to increase the broader community’s involvement in NS. Many also supported offering women, new citizens and first generation Permanent Residents (PRs) the opportunity to volunteer for national defence.
For a copy of the full CSNS report, please contact strengthenNS@defence.gov.sg