SAF Volunteer Corps made flexible; registration starts Oct 13

(From left) Singaporean Kweh Ting Ting, 27, Mr Calven Bland, 42, a New Zealand-born PR, Colonel Mike Tan, the appointed commander of the Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps, and Mr Wong Weng Joon, 29, a Malaysia-born PR. Those who sign up for
(From left) Singaporean Kweh Ting Ting, 27, Mr Calven Bland, 42, a New Zealand-born PR, Colonel Mike Tan, the appointed commander of the Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps, and Mr Wong Weng Joon, 29, a Malaysia-born PR. Those who sign up for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Volunteer Corps from Monday will have more leeway to decide how they want to serve their stint and contribute to the country's defence. -- ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

SINGAPORE - Those who sign up for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Volunteer Corps from Monday will have more leeway to decide how they want to serve their stint and contribute to the country's defence.

The military corps, which will enlist its first batch of volunteers in March next year, has been made flexible, in an effort to make it easier for people to step forward and match their skills and expertise to their volunteer roles.

Trainees can choose to stay in camp and undergo a four-week course that will familiarise them with the military's modus operandi or spread out their training sessions over a few weekends.

In a turnaround from an earlier proposal to make military volunteers serve up to 14 days for at least three years, the SAF has shortened the annual call-up period to seven days. Volunteers, who at anytime feel they no longer want to serve, will be allowed to drop out. They will need to inform commanders three months before they leave the corps.

These details were announced by Colonel Mike Tan, who has been appointed the commander of the SAF Volunteer Corps.

He said doing away with a compulsory three-year stint in the volunteer corps does not "take away the seriousness of the commitment".

"If volunteer is not able to keep pace with training and found to be unable to follow the training, then maybe its in everybody's interest to allow the volunteer to leave...you are not likely to give your best if you feel you are being tied down," he said at a media briefing on Oct 10.

For a start, they will get to choose from 17 vocations including defence psychologists, airbase civil engineers and security troopers. They may even get the chance to work onboard the Republic of Navy's ships and sail out to sea.

These volunteers will get the flexibility of switching among volunteer roles.

Women, first-generation permanent residents and new citizens, aged between 18 and 45 and are not liable for NS, are being targeted by the SAF Volunteer Corps. About 100 to 150 volunteers are expected to be enlisted in three batches next year.

Employers will have to let them serve and they will be given an allowance or make-up pay during their in-camp stints.