By Tiffany Gwee
(Click here to review the full list of recommended changes)
The Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS) has proposed 30 new changes to help enhance soldiers’ experience in the Armed Forces.
Some of these changes include more time allocated to train for the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT), the introduction of the new SAF Volunteer Corps, and an increase in payouts given at the three milestones of National Service.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the proposed changes “will take time to implement if accepted” but he would “like to see changes implemented as soon as possible, and possibly all by next year”.
Introduction of Volunteer Corps
A brand new addition to national defence would be the volunteer military corps – which will consist of voluntary women, first-generation permanent residents (PR) and new citizens. They will have to undergo a four-week basic volunteer course and pick up basic military skills and values.
So far, nobody knows the age restriction and specific clarification as to who should join the volunteer corps.
The volunteers will have to commit themselves to the group for between one to two weeks a year, and subjected to annual call-ups of up to 40 days for a minimum of three years.
More regulars hired
The committee also hopes to hire a thousand more regulars for the SAF and more than 200 for the Singapore Police Force as well as the Civil Defence Force. The goal here is to create a more efficient training system.
A 10 percent rise in the proportion of officers and specialists was also discussed in order to increase leadership chances for full-time NSmen.
Increased monetary incentives for NSmen
Another suggestion is an increase of S$100 for passes in IPPT tests . This will result in an individual getting $500 for a gold, $300 for a silver and $200 for a pass.
There have also been recommendations from the committee to give $2,000 more in Medisave grants at each of the three milestones in National Service.
Today, $3,000 is given when a soldier finishes full-time National Service, when he is halfway through his operationally-ready training cycle, and at the end of the 10-year cycle. The first payout goes into an Nsman’s Post-Secondary Education Account while the other two payouts are divided between the Ordinary, Medisave and Special Account.
However, with the newly proposed plan, the initial $3000 will be credited into NSmen’s CPF Ordinary accounts while an additional $2,000 will go into the CPF Medisave account.
Gap between school and NS to be shortened
The waiting time between the end of post-secondary education and enlistment might be shortened to 4 to 6 months. Twice the number of enlistees will be enlisted within 4 months after their completion of post-secondary education.
Not enough to repay the loss of 2 years?
On one of the Straits Times’ report on the recommendations, some said that the cost of serving for 2 years outweigh the benefits recommended by the Committee.
Facebook user Wee Michael wrote that this does not solve the “long unhappy issue” that the children will be at a disadvantage “with a 2 year education/career gap” compared to foreigners who have the option not to serve NS.
Another user Ng Tian Wen said that his friend’s brother “got offered a job in the US but had to decline (it) because he will be enlisting after he finishes his tertiary studies” and that this puts his friend at a “slight disadvantage” to those who need not serve the army.
However, Dr Ng noted that with “an open mind”, “(NSmen) do get positive and valuable experiences and lessons out of (their) service”. There were others who felt that this was a “step in the right direction” and that 2 years is not “life defining” or “career changing”.
Two sides to every coin
While some still feel that the benefits do not make up for the time spent in NS, Dr Ng noted that if “implemented well”, Singapore can “end up with a National Service system and a strong armed forces that everyone can be proud of.”
He hopes the Government will be in support of the changes made as the amount of resources to be used will be “substantial”.