More regulars needed to train NSFs: Minister

Full-time National Service (NS) specialist cadets from Lima Company, Specialist Cadet School, share lessons before a training exercise near Pasir Laba Camp, on July 1, 2013. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Full-time National Service (NS) specialist cadets from Lima Company, Specialist Cadet School, share lessons before a training exercise near Pasir Laba Camp, on July 1, 2013. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

More career soldiers will need to be hired if the Singapore Army wants to make training more effective for national servicemen.

Second Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing said 15 per cent more army regulars will have to be recruited to take up instructional roles in the military. This can then free up full- time national servicemen (NSFs), who now serve as instructors, to be deployed in more combat-related roles in operational ground units, said Mr Chan.

The proposed move can make NS training more "meaningful" for the NSFs, he added.

Mr Chan said the new hires for the training institutes may include retired officers and more civilian contractors.

He was speaking to reporters after meeting with members of the Committee to Strengthen National Service on Monday to finalise proposals on how to improve and streamline the NS training system.

Other ideas include working with polytechics and Institute of Technical Education to improve the fitness of NS-bound males by rolling out a physical training programme to help them achieve a Silver award for the Napfa fitness test. This also means they can be enlisted later.

Some members suggested that more short term contracts in the SAF or the newly-formed Youth Corps can be offered to those who finish their two-year NS stints but want to make better use of the "downtime" before entering university.