An RSIS commentary on why cutting the budget is a bad idea, and why National Service is still needed.
I must first say that I'm biased on both issues. I think the defence budget is not a sacred cow, and that we are better served by a regular force.
I do agree with the last point about engaging the public about defence matters, but that point was not fully developed. All too often, we are told that some defence issues are too sensitive or secret to be discussed in public.
It is too easy for defence planners to hide behind that "shield". One look at the open source material available on some developed countries will show that we are just giving excuses.
Back to the defence budget. Without number crunching, it is premature to dismiss arguments about budget cuts simply by citing that we live in a different neighbourhood.
As for National Service, it is precisely because of our unique features (small land mass, lack of strategic depth) that calls for a regular force. We may not want to admit it, but the majority of our standby Air Force and Navy assets are manned by regulars. Turning into a regular force will also mean turning professional.
Worth more discussion, this debate.