NS changes: Women, first-generation PRs can join SAF Volunteer Corps

A female recruit from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) undergoing training. -- PHOTO: PIONEERNS
A female recruit from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) undergoing training. -- PHOTO: PIONEERNS

SINGAPORE - Every able-bodied man and woman, who is exempt from National Service, can choose to do their part to defend the country when the first-ever Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps is set up in the middle of next year. Women, first-generation permanent residents and new citizens, between 18 and 45, will be the target of the new military corps.

For a start, defence planners are hoping to see about 100 to 150 step forward to form the first batch of volunteers. They can choose to serve in two tracks:

- Operations: guarding the Republic’s key installations like Jurong Island and crowd control during SAF-related events- Specialist: applying their expertise in the legal, medical, psychological and maritime fields, among others.

After signing up, they will have to wear military fatigues and undergo a four-week course to familiarise themselves with the military’s modus operandi. "They will have to understand the culture and know-how to behave in a military environment which is very different from the civilian world,” said Colonel Goh Si Hou.

Like every Operationally-Ready National Servicemen (NSmen), volunteers are liable to be called up to serve for up to two weeks every year, for at least three years. Employers will be required to let them go and the volunteers will be given an allowance during their in-camp stints. 

The topic of women and first-generation PRs volunteering attracted intense discussion in recent focus groups led by the Committee to Strengthen National Service.

jermync@sph.com.sg