Accommodate more volunteers for Singapore’s defence

Accommodate more volunteers for Singapore’s defence
The SCDF Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit has numerous appointments that can be filled by volunteers who can competently discharge their duties with comparatively less training than would be required if they were enlisted into the military. Photo: Ernest Chua
Published: 4:03 AM, October 11, 2013
Updated: 8:32 AM, October 22, 2013
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The recently published results of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) survey on Singaporean attitudes towards National Service (NS) will undoubtedly be a shot in the arm for discussions on national defence volunteerism, a thread that has emerged in the larger conversation on how support for NS can be strengthened.

While there is ambivalence over whether NS should be obligatory for females and first-generation Permanent Residents (PRs), the survey results clearly demonstrate there is sizeable support for allowing them to contribute directly to Singapore’s defence as volunteers.

Crucially, this sentiment is shared equally by those who currently serve NS and those who do not. This finding is not unexpected, and merely reinforces similar views that have often surfaced in earlier discussions facilitated by the Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS).


Much of this discussion assumes such volunteer service will be done in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). This is arguably natural, considering how the majority of those liable for NS serve in the military, and the immediate tendency to equate national defence with it.

The SAF has already begun to explore ways its currently-limited volunteer scheme can be expanded to include combat roles.

Enlisting volunteers for military service is, however, challenging in practice.

Military service requires lengthy training because of the complexity and uniqueness of the profession of arms. Military jobs that can utilise existing civilian skills, such as military medicine, are the minority, and are highly specialised. As such, vocations which may allow for a shorter training regime because they build on existing skill sets are limited.

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