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30 Jan 2019
Ministry of Defense
Suggestion View - 629
Training recruits

I met a former NS officer who is now in his 50s.  His son has just completed full time National Service.

He made some insightful observation on the training of our NS recruits. It worried me.

He told me that many of our NS recruits are training by NCO and officers of the same age. He said that this is a bad approach. He objected to it.

I asked him to explain the issue. He said that the NS recruits have first to attend 9 weeks of basic military training. Some of them are then sent for training as NCOs and some as officers.

After completing their training, these NCOs and officers are then used to train the next batch of recruits who are of the same age.

Being young and inexperienced, they do not have the ability to judge whether the recruit under their charge are able to take the rigorous training. 

It is different in the old days when the training are carried out by regulars who are much older than the recruits. The regulars are able to use their experience to judge the physical ability of the recruits.

He also observed that many of the SAF scholars who are placed in senior positions do not understand the life of the recruits and soldiers. Although they are SAF generals, they do not spend their full time in the SAF. Some of them are seconded to understudy the senior people in the ministries. 

I was worried when I heard his comment. We spend $15 billion a year on defense. This is a high proportion of our GDP compared to most other countries. We are also taking away two years of the time of our NS men and ten years of call up for reservist training.

Are we producing the right quality of soldiers?

My preference is to reduce the full time national service and reservist duty and to use regular soldiers as NCOs and officers. I do not like the officers to be NS men.

I also like to see the duration of full time and reservists duty to be shortened, so as to allow the NS men to focus on their careers in a competitive world. 

In case of hostility (which has not occurred for the past six decades), they can be called back for refresher training to get into shape.

Tan Kin Lian



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