Don’t lose sight of purpose of NS
May 8, 2014 – I AGREE that the approach towards national service can be improved (“National service for the 21st century”; April 26). However, offering “soft” and “hard” placements to pre-enlistees means that NS will become a buffet spread where people can decide what they like and do not like.
Many of today’s young people lack personal discipline. If we let them choose how they want to serve NS, they are likely to pick only options that they think will benefit them.
NS is not just a numbers game. It is about personal and team discipline, leadership development, character building and, more importantly, social and relationship management.
It is a melting pot where youngsters from all walks of life mix with one another, regardless of race, language or religion. Anyone who is fit to carry a weapon will carry one, and the medically unfit ones are trained to support them.
I was reminded by a senior Singapore Armed Forces commander that our country is vulnerable and defence is vital.
With our declining birth rate, even if we leverage technology to a greater extent, we will still need manpower.
I do recognise that meaningful engagement in NS can be improved, matching national servicemen’s roles with their skill sets and strengths.
But basic military training, physical fitness tests and regimental duties must remain the core of NS – with the objectives of adequately preparing youngsters for combat and building discipline.
The Defence and Home Affairs ministries could look into providing more options for NS vocations, based on information such as the enlistees’ medical status, academic qualifications, interests and testimonials.
But deployment must still be based on the security and defence needs of the respective NS agencies.