A strong and future-ready Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is needed to defend Singapore, and all SAF personnel are integral to the SAF's ability to do so. With the expected reduction in manpower by 2030, the contributions of every national servicemen becomes even more important.
"NS by Design" Approach
To optimise the potential of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN)'s national servicemen, comprising both full-time and Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSFs and NSmen), the RSN adopted an "NS by design" approach so that these national servicemen could more meaningfully contribute to naval operations. Following a review of the RSN's existing deployment of national servicemen in 2016, the RSN designed NSF/NSmen-specific roles in the development of its future capabilities.
a) New Opportunities for Deployment. Besides the deployment in frontline units such as RSN ships and the Naval Diving Unit, additional opportunities in maritime security, base defence, and unmanned system operations have been created. For example, since November 2016, NSFs have been operating the ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicles on board the Victory-class missile corvettes, a role previously undertaken only by Regulars. The RSN has also pre-identified roles for national servicemen during the development of new capabilities, which are expected to be introduced in the next few years.
b) Review of Vocation Deployment Criteria. Vocation deployment criteria were reviewed to give the RSN's national servicemen more opportunities to serve in vocations that they were previously ineligible for. For example, technology has enabled the RSN to deploy service-fit servicemen at the operations centre for base defence, which was previously only manned by combat-fit servicemen.
c) Increased Deployment in Operations During In-Camp Trainings (ICTs). Beyond reviewing ICTs for NSmen to sync with the operational tempo of the RSN, during ICTs, NSmen can also expect to deploy for maritime security operations alongside Regulars and NSFs, after they have completed a refresher programme. For example, NSmen from the 180 Squadron were deployed to conduct operational compliant boarding as part of the Accompanying Sea Security Teams during the security operation mounted for the 33rd ASEAN Summit.
d) Enhanced Deployment of NSmen with Niche Expertise to Fulfil Operational Needs. To maximise the contributions of our NSmen, the RSN has also actively re-deployed NSmen with niche civilian expertise to roles that are relevant to the RSN's operational requirements. These included the re-deployment of NSmen with specialised expertise in marine systems, maritime operations and unmanned systems, as well as other niche areas such as cyber defence, law and info-communications.