Exit permit application requirements for NSmen travelling overseas extended from 6 months to 12 months

Exit permit application requirements for NSmen travelling overseas extended from 6 months to 12 months

During the Committee of Supply of the budget 2023 on Monday, Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How provided updates on the Ministry of Defence’s (Mindef) initiatives to improve the National Service (NS) experience and optimize the deployment of servicemen across the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

One of the changes announced is that, starting from April, operationally ready NSmen who are overseas for an extended period will only need to apply for an exit permit for trips of 12 months or longer, instead of six months as it is currently.

This is in line with Singaporeans’ growing mobility and will reduce administrative burdens for NSmen, while not affecting the SAF’s operational readiness, said Mr Heng.

Mr Heng also responded to questions from MPs Patrick Tay (Pioneer SMC), Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC), and Yeo Wan Ling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) on various topics, including maximizing servicemen’s contributions, matching soldiers with their skills and abilities, and improving the deployment of NSmen.

To this end, the SAF has redesigned 1,300 jobs since 2021, such as those of medics, infantry carrier vehicle operators, and transport operators, so that more servicemen can be deployed in operational roles than before.

The redeployment of NSmen has also been ramped up, with 200 NSmen redeployed under the enhanced scheme in 2022 compared to about 50 NSmen in previous years.

Moreover, the SAF has expanded its work-learn schemes for NSFs who wish to pursue academic qualifications while contributing to Singapore’s defense.

The latest work-learn scheme is a partnership with Singapore Polytechnic that offers NSFs the opportunity to pursue a diploma in engineering (mechanical technology) and work as naval warfare system specialists. The SAF expects 500 NSFs to enroll in work-learn schemes every year by 2025.

Through these initiatives, Mindef aims to ensure that NSmen can balance their civilian careers while contributing their skills and knowledge in the best possible way to enhance the SAF’s operational readiness.

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