SAF looks to cut NS 'down time'

SAF looks to cut NS 'down time'

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is looking to shorten the amount of "down time" that young men face before and after their mandatory national service stints.

Many face a combined total of seven to eight months' waiting in the periods between school and NS, as well as NS and university.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen also said servicemen can be given more leeway to state their preferred vocations in the SAF, in an effort to match the serviceman's skills and expertise to his job.

Dr Ng revealed the plans in an interview yesterday, amid ongoing efforts by a high-level panel that he heads to strengthen support for and commitment to NS.

He said he was "gratified and humbled" by a recent poll that found 98 per cent of Singaporeans supported NS.

But he said more can be done.

The Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS) is now at a "midpoint" in its efforts to submit recommendations to the Government early next year. Formed in May, it has held focus group discussions and canvassed the views of more than 10,000 people.

The SAF said it is looking to ensure that NS training is "efficient and effective" and "makes the best use of their (servicemen's) time". Some citizen soldiers and their parents have complained about the amount of spare time before and after NS stints.

Nearly 80 per cent of full-time national servicemen are A-level graduates or polytechnic diploma holders who will go to university.

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