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J Mercado Jr

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The enlistments of Singapore Armed Forces are expected to be affected by declining birth rates going forward, Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said Monday.

The national service is compulsory for eligible male citizens and permanent residents in Singapore, and about 15,000 national service men were enlisted into the armed forces each year in the 1990s, the minister said in a reply to parliament.

The number peaked in 2011 at about 21,000, partly as a result of more children given birth by cohorts of the baby boomers came of enlistment age, including those born in 1988, the year of the dragon.

But the enlistments are expected to gradually taper and revert to levels in the 1990s going forward, due to an aging population and declining fertility rate.

Nevertheless, Ng said even with the numbers, the long-term projections till 2040 indicate that the armed forces will still be able to mobilize about 300,000 soldiers from regulars, full time national servicemen and operationally ready national service men, if needed. - PNA

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