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30 Jan 2019
Singapore Armed Forces
Feedback View - 410
Getting more people to sign up as regulars

I asked a person who worked in SAF for 6 years and quit to join the private sector the following questions. My aim was to see if there is a better way to have a credible army, without overlying on national servicemen.

Here are his replies:

1. How long did you work in SAF and what was the pay?
I worked as a regular from nearly 6 years; and drew a salary between $1800-3100 from the rank of Recruit to Sergeant. I was never an NSF, so theoretically never forced to serve full-time national service.

2. Why did quit SAF?
Originally my plan was to serve for 5 years under my study bond (Including NS). Along the way, I did consider staying on considering the adjusted salary scheme and higher profiling of army sergeant. However, I had a strong direction to move into IT industry. The culture in the civil service is also not for me.

3. Did you have the choice to renew your contract ? How long? What pay?
Two years into my service, I was offered a revised scheme offered from max 10 years renewable to until age 55 and adjusted pay scale. The original scheme was not working as the earlier people on 10 years scheme were leaving or not renewed (due to various reasons), and they were not able to recruit enough sergeant to replace these people.

Put things into context, most educated people want to be officer. Few want to be a sergeant, so SAF tried to profile the sergeant scheme to match the prestige and salary scale of officer scheme. 

4. Did many soldiers stay on or quit? What were their reasons
Originally many of my peers planned to leave after their bond, but fact is most end up staying due to the better pay and bonuses; and lack of prospect outside. Most who stayed do not have a decent enough qualification to make their equivalent pay outside. Those I knew who left went into banking, property or sales.

5. Will it make sense for SAF to offer a 2 year full time solder contract to NS men after completing their NS. They will get the full time pay and after 2 year come into the private sector. They are already trained in NS, so they continue as solder to get a good pay and also beef up our full time regular force. Will a 2 year contract be better than 6 years?

The SAF offers a 6-month extension to service on regular pay scale for selected people (e.g. sergeants and officers), followed by a 2 years regular contract. Those who stayed will be offered regular scheme until age 55.

Currently, SAF does not offer this scheme to lower rank soldiers. However, if this scheme is offered, many lower rank soldiers are likely to be interested in this scheme, especially those who have no plans to further study and urgently need a decent income.

Of course, the scheme will likely be offered to those with good performance and conduct during NS. I don't see any flaw in this.

Tan Kin Lian


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