National Service (NS) has been the cornerstone of Singapore's defence and security since it was introduced in 1967. To date, more than one million male Singaporeans have served NS, which is recognised as a defining experience for generations over the decade.
By: Domnic Dass and Justin Leong
In 2022, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Home Team commemorate 55 years of NS. Here’s how Full-time Police National Service (PNSF) officers are trained to safeguard Singapore!
NS55: Commemorating 55 years of NS
On 26 March 2022, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Manpower, Mr Zaqy Mohamad announced the start of a year-long celebration for NS55 – in recognition of the contributions of the more than one million past and present NSmen from the SAF and Home Team since NS started in 1967.
At the NS55 launch, Mr Zaqy Mohamed emphasised the critical role of NS in safeguarding Singapore's sovereignty. “We have stood up NS for 55 years, where more than a million Singaporeans have served, and we want to recognise them for their contributions,” he said. “We are also thankful for the support of their families, employers and the community because the sacrifices made are not just theirs alone.”
“Generations of Strength" was chosen as the theme for NS55 to reflect the collective resolve and dedication of our NSmen.
The Introduction of Full-time Police National Service
The first batch of NS officers was enlisted into the SAF in 1967. That year, part-time Vigilante Corps and part-time Special Constabulary forces were established within the Singapore Police Force (SPF). However, it was eight years after the introduction of NS that the first intake of PNSF officers was enlisted, on 24 July 1975.
Here’s how the SPF’s Training Command (TRACOM) teaches PNSF officers to become effective “everyday guardians” through the Police Officer Basic Course (POBC).
Rite of Passage
The POBC is a rite of passage for every SPF officer. It seeks to equip enlistees with basic policing skills, knowledge and values required of a Police officer. Let’s check out some of the key components of the POBC!
Physical Training: Physical and mental fitness are essential for Police officers to carry out their duties effectively. PNSF officers have to go through rigorous training such as circuit training, high-intensity interval training, camp runs, swimming and pull-ups as well as recovery, stretching and flexibility programmes to build stamina and improve fitness. PNSF officers are also tested in three core areas for their Individual Physical Proficiency Test: push-ups, sit- ups and 2.4km run.
Foot Drills: This instils precision, alertness, urgency, attention to detail and readiness to respond to orders promptly. Foot drills also develop and strengthen the esprit de corps within a squad. During ceremonial parades, foot drills are displayed in the form of precision movements to showcase the high standard of discipline in trainees.
Weapon Handling: PNSF officers undergo firearms training and are taught shooting techniques and procedures in handling firearms such as the Taurus M85 revolver. They will also go through a “use of force” simulator where they will respond in pairs to incidents and practice various use of force options.
Police Contact Training: This equips PNSF officers with self-defence tactics that enable them to handle myriad situations that they may encounter in the line of duty. PNSF officers are also trained to consider the proportionality of force to be applied vis-à-vis the perceived threat posed by suspects, taking into account the safety of the general public and their fellow officers, as well as the safety of the subject on which force is to be applied.
Police Standard Obstacle Course: This simulates real-life obstacles that officers may meet while carrying out their duties. The course is designed to build physical fitness and agility.
Classroom Training: Apart from physical training, PNSF officers are also trained in policing knowledge through classroom lessons, discussions and case studies, during which they learn about criminal law, community policing, patrol duties as well as Police operations and procedures. This ensures that officers are competent and operationally ready upon completing the course.