NSFs can state preferred vocation from end-2017
YOUNG men starting their national service from the end of next year will, for the first time, get to indicate which vocation they want to serve in.
Their choice will be taken into account after they are posted to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), police and the Civil Defence.
While operational needs will still be the main consideration, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the move will better match an enlistee's capability with his role in NS, and encourage him to take ownership of his responsibilities.
Speaking in his annual interview ahead of today's SAF Day, he added: "Obviously, operational requirements will come first but if their vocations, their aptitudes match their indicated interest, we will try to give as many as possible.
"The caveat is that the entirety of the unit's mission and capability must not be compromised. But I think that will increase ownership and match capability with the duties of full-time NSmen."
From the end of this year, pre-enlistees will be given a range of vocations to choose from as part of their screening at the Central Manpower Base.
To help them make informed choices, details on more than 30 vocations in the various forces will be made available online later this year.
This matching of interest to vocation was one of 30 recommendations made by the Committee to Strengthen NS in 2014. So far, 24 have been implemented so far, including free insurance coverage for all servicemen, which was announced last week.
But even as the country continues to recognise its national servicemen, Dr Ng highlighted how the SAF has to do more with less and fight smart, given an expected one-third reduction in manpower by 2030.
He announced a raft of new high-tech additions, including an armoured fighting vehicle with laser-assisted guns for the army, unmanned navy vehicles as a countermeasure to sea mines and the transformation of the Changi Air Base into a smart air base with more automation.
Dr Ng also said that the SAF is strengthening its anti-terrorism capabilities with a new unit - the Army Deployment Force.
It will be able to respond swiftly to terrorist attacks alongside the Home Team.
These efforts aim to continually improve the SAF, said Dr Ng, so that "we are always prepared, ready to meet today's challenges as well as adapt to new challenges on the horizon, and even unseen ones."