SINGAPORE - Citizen soldiers are spending less than half the time on administrative processes than they were four years ago thanks to recent improvements in mobilisation exercises.
These used to involve spending 10 to 12 hours in camps waiting for weapons and combat kit to be issued and filling in forms. Now operationally-ready national servicemen (NSmen) take only four to five hours to get ready, said Second Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing.
The time savings have allowed the NSmen to undergo refresher training to maintain basic soldiering skills like weapon use, first aid and battle drills. At the same time, commanders have been freed up to draw out simulated battle plans.
Mobilisation exercises test the operational readiness of NSmen. They were introduced in the 1980s and are typically held on weekends. Servicemen have to report to mobilisation centres within two to six hours after they are activated.
A series of improvements to make the process more efficient has been made since 2009. These include the introduction of Mobilisation and Equipping Centres, which allow soldiers to report for duty, get kitted up and conduct training in one location.
Communication equipment is now packed into luggage bags to make it easier for soldiers to assemble them while some paper forms are now done by computer.
The convenience and more efficient use of time have created a more "positive experience" for NSmen, according to Mr Chan.
"We must make sure that once they have their equipment, their skills are ready, the planning is done concurrently," he said. "With these concurrent actions on the ground at the same time, you will find that the mobilisation system is much more effective."