SINGAPORE: The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has been affected by Singapore’s declining birth rates and ageing population.
National Service (NS) enlistees are drawn from eligible male Singapore citizens and permanent residents.
In a reply to Parliament, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in the 1990s, about 15,000 NS men were enlisted into the SAF each year.
From the year 2000, Singapore experienced higher numbers as children given birth by cohorts of baby—boomers came of enlistment age, including those born in the 1988 Dragon year.
As a result, SAF enlistments increased and reached a peak of about 21,000 in 2011.
But going forward, due to an ageing population and declining fertility trends, SAF enlistments are expected to gradually taper and revert to levels in the 1990s, of about 15,000 each year.
But even with these enlistment numbers, Dr Ng said Singapore’s long—term projections till 2040 indicate that the SAF will still be able to mobilise about 300,000 soldiers from regulars, full time national servicemen (NSFs) and operationally ready NS men (ORNS), if needed.
Dr Ng added the SAF has taken into account its manpower requirements over the long term through its transformation towards a 3rd—generation SAF.
That is, through advances in technology and with more effective systems and platforms, which require fewer men to operate.
Dr Ng said: "Beyond investing in technologically advanced platforms, we also leverage technology to network our platforms together to provide us greater synergy in training and operations.
"So one example is the recently inaugurated community for command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence. Another important factor driving up the overall capability and productivity of the SAF lies in the rising quality of our servicemen."
"As a whole, the higher quality of our NS men combined with the advanced platforms and effective use of technology to network our systems, will ensure that the SAF continues to be an effective military force and a strong deterrent against any aggression," he added.
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