Regular cadre to train recruits

The establishment of a cadre of career soldiers to train recruits and ensuring a serviceman's skill sets are matched to his army role.

These were among recommendations made in a report released yesterday by the Committee to Strengthen National Service.

The measures, to be implemented in the next few years, aim to raise training standards in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

The 1,100-strong cadre of regulars will be deployed mostly in training schools and vocational training institutes. Another 230 will be hired by the Home Team.

Typically, full-time national servicemen (NSFs) are trained by older second-year commanders, while career soldiers are "more mature, senior and better at instilling discipline and values", said Colonel Ng Ying Thong, the SAF's assistant chief of the general staff (training). Some NSFs who have completed their two years' service will also be offered short-term contracts as regulars.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said earlier this year that time savings from employing regular trainers could lead to NS being shortened "by a few weeks".

Other recommendations will expand the role of NSFs in the army. One measure is to increase the number of officers and specialists, from 30 to 40 per cent.

Another is to better match new soldiers to vocations which suit their skills, while skills they learn during NS will be accredited in their certificate of service so they are recognised in civilian life.

Mr Alex Lee, 21, hopes to join the navy as a cook next month. "I'd like to be a chef so that would be useful, but I'm also open to new things."

LEE JIAN XUAN