02 June 2015
Running against the grain of contemporary all-volunteer militaries, the Singapore Armed Forces remains predominately a national service conscript force. The citizen-soldier model must be retained to bind Singapore’s military and its society.
Singapore’s citizen-based armed forces has served the nation’s security needs well. More importantly, it has become a social cohesive that has bonded Singaporeans from all walks of life and bridged the civil-military divide that is seen in certain nations with all-volunteer militaries. It would be prudent for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to resist any move to establish the all-volunteer professional force structure adopted by virtually all of the West’s militaries, including those that are smaller than the SAF.
As Singaporeans are encouraged to ‘live our dreams and fly our flag’, they should also take the opportunity to reflect upon possible cleavages which, left unchecked, might develop into fault lines that undermine the security, integrity and existence of Singapore as a nation state. One such potential threat is the development of a rift between the values of a nation’s military and its society – a danger that could be magnified in a small city state such as Singapore.
… Ong Wei Chong is Associate Research Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. He is attached to the Military Studies Programme at the school’s constituent unit, the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies. He is also a Doctoral Candidate with the Centre for the Study of War, State and Society, University of Exeter, UK.
GPO / IDSS / Online
Last updated on 16/11/2015