If the sole purpose of national service is to defend our nation, then this can be achieved by the employment of an all-regular force, or even a mercenary army ("NS: What it takes to get S'pore sons to soldier on" by Lieutenant (NS) Paul Sim Ruiqi; June 30). But there are many reasons to avoid these options.
Besides, monetary compensation will never adequately reflect the complex relationship between our country and its citizen-soldiers.
The Committee to Strengthen National Service should consider Lt Sim's point that recognition of national servicemen be through "things that really matter".
Our armed forces, made up primarily of national servicemen, are increasingly said to be a national institution benefiting from principled approaches to its preservation, and from the preservation of the nation from which it springs.
That nation is evolving. More full-time national servicemen aspire to be commanders ("More NSFs may get to become commanders"; July 1), contrasting with the time when the extra length of service attached would cause servicemen to avoid non-commissioned- officer and officer selection. We should encourage this willingness to shoulder greater responsibilities.
The idea to widen the pool of potential talent by including those without the stipulated educational qualifications is a good one. We can always sponsor further education for those selected.
Matching existing and acquired skills to vocation might try the patience of defence manpower planners, but this already occurs in the natural selection processes of any nation's institutions, including the Singapore Armed Forces.
- Heng Aik Jin
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