SAF Volunteer Corps

The SAF Volunteer Corps (SAFVC) is a uniformed volunteer auxiliary of the Singapore Armed Forces. The SAFVC was established in October 2014[3] to encourage Singaporean women, first generation Permanent Residents and new immigrant/naturalised-citizens to do their part and contribute towards Singapore's defence by strengthening support for national service and understanding the burden with the national servicemen.

Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps (SAFVC)
Kor Relawan Tentera Angkatan Bersenjata Singapura  (Malay)
新加坡武装部队志愿军团 (Chinese)
Crest of the SAF Volunteer Corps (SAFVC)
ActiveOctober, 2014  present
Country Singapore
BranchSingapore Army
Republic of Singapore Navy
Republic of Singapore Air Force
RolePrimary tasks:
  • Serving in assigned roles alongside SAF NSFs, NSmen and Regulars
  • Enhancing the peace and security of Singapore
Part ofSingapore Armed Forces
Garrison/HQMaju Camp[2]
Motto(s)"Steadfast & Vigilant"
COL Martin Koh

It is distinct from the SAF Volunteers or the Rovers (Reservist On Voluntary Extended Reserve Service) schemes that consist of former NSmen or regulars who continue to serve beyond the statutory age.[4]

One of Singapore’s founders, the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew had in fact, wanted women to serve NS, when he once said, "I was keen to have our women do national service as... women did, because that would reinforce the people’s will to defend themselves. But Goh Keng Swee did not want his then new ministry to carry this extra burden. As the other ministers in Defco (Defence Council) were also not anxious to draft our women, I did not press my point."[5]



Tracing back its roots at the beginning with the Singapore Volunteer Rifle Corps (a private organisation established in 1854 to combat lawlessness), the corps of volunteers evolved over the next 48 years after undergoing several reorganisations and was known by various names through its history into the Singapore Volunteer Corps (SVC), the SAFVC's predecessor. The SVC played an important role forming the Singapore Military Forces in 1953 and together with Regulars and part-time national servicemen in 1965 to form the Singapore Armed Forces as we know today.

Timeline of Singapore Military Volunteerism

  • Singapore Volunteer Rifle Corps (SVRC): formed after the outbreak of riots between Chinese secret societies (Hokkien-Teochew) from 5–17 May 1854. The conflict caused widespread unrest and loss of life on the island, and was severe enough for the police to require the support of the military, some marines, European residents acting as Special Constables, sepoys and even convicts to restore order. More than 500 people were killed and 300 houses burned down. The Corps was disbanded in December 1887 when its numbers dwindled to a small half company.[6]
  • Singapore Volunteer Artillery Corps (SVA): In February 1888, the corps was revived as the Singapore Volunteer Artillery, and was the first unit in the British Empire, regular or auxiliary, to field the Maxim Gun. The guns arrived in 1889 and were funded by donations from the Sultan of Johor, members of the various communities in Singapore and prominent businessmen.
  • Singapore Volunteer Corps (SVC): 1901, the SVA's diverse composition of sub-units necessitated the change of name to the Singapore Volunteer Corps (SVC). It comprised artillery, infantry, engineers and rifle sections. During the First World War, the SVC helped to quell the Sepoy Mutiny of 1915, which resulted in the deaths of 11 volunteers.
  • Straits Settlements Volunteer Force (SSVF): In 1922, the SVC was absorbed into the Straits Settlements Volunteer Force together with the Penang and Province Wellesley Volunteer Corps, Malacca Volunteer Corps, and Labuan Volunteer Defence Detachment. In 1928, the SSVF infantry was re-organised into 4 battalions. The 1st and 2nd battalions consisted of members of the Singapore Volunteer Corps (1,250 men), the 3rd battalion consisted of the Penang & Province Wellesley Volunteer Corps (916 men) and the 4th Battalion consisted of the Malacca Volunteer Corps (675 men). Besides the infantry, the rest of the SSVF consisted of the Singapore Royal Artillery (SRA), Singapore Royal Engineers, Singapore Armoured Car Company and 3 ambulance units. The Corps was involved in the defence of Singapore during the Second World War. As international tensions heightened during the 1930s, an increasing number of men of the various nationalities in the Settlements — predominantly European, Malay, Chinese, Indian and Eurasian — joined the SSVF. It included naval, air force, special operations, irregular units (such as Dalforce) and home guard units. The SSVF — including four infantry battalions — took part in the Battle of Singapore in 1942, and most of its members were captured on 15 February 1942 when their positions were overrun. The end of the Japanese Occupation saw the SVC being revived in 1949.
  • Singapore Overseas Chinese Anti-Japanese Volunteer Army (Dalforce): created on 25 December 1941 by Lieutenant Colonel John Dalley as an irregular forces/guerrilla unit within the British Straits Settlements Volunteer Force during World War II. Its members were recruited among the ethnic Chinese people of Singapore. The British noted how ferociously the Chinese volunteers in Dalforce fought, earning them the nickname Dalley's Desperadoes. By the time the Japanese invaded, Dalforce numbered 4,000 resistance fighters. Due to the divided leadership between the Communist Chinese and the Kuomintang, the army was divided into two sections. One is the Singapore Overseas Chinese Volunteer Army, which was mainly Communist and under direct command of Lieutenant-Colonel Dalley, and the smaller Guomindang Overseas Chinese Guard Force under the command of Chinese Nationalist Major Hu Tie Jun. Both sections comprised a total strength not exceeding 1,500 men, and the Overseas Chinese Guard Force was also trained by British officers. Ian Morrison, the Malayan correspondent for The Times in 1942, also noted that they were "trained, and placed in formations according to their political sympathies. There was one school where the Kuomintang adherents were trained, another where the Communists were trained."[7] The unit suffered severe casualties due to lack of training, equipment and armament. The Japanese despised Dalforce bitterly, deciding to use them as an excuse for their treatment of the Chinese population, although this behaviour was instigated by the Kempeitai rather than by Lieutenant-General Tomoyuki Yamashita. On 13 February 1942, two days before General Arthur Percival's surrender of Singapore, Dalley assembled Dalforce troops at Kim Yam Road Headquarters and ordered them to disband. The surviving members were each paid ten Straits dollars for their services.[8] Dalforce is estimated to have suffered 300 casualties, of which 134 known killed were compiled by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in 1956. Many men and women would be captured, tortured and executed in the Sook Ching massacre for their involvement in Dalforce. Quite a number of veterans were able to escape to India after Singapore fell. Others fled into the jungles and joined up with the Malayan Peoples' Anti-Japanese Army during the occupation.
  • Singapore Volunteer Force (SVF): under Singapore Military Forces (SMF, predecessor of the SAF): In 1954, with the disbandment of the SSVF, the Singapore Volunteer Force were absorbed into the Singapore Military Forces. The Corps assisted in defence during the Malayan Emergency, and the at the height of the Indonesian Confrontation, was deployed to protect vital installations in Singapore and southern Johor against saboteurs.
  • Subsequently in 1961, SMF was renamed to Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
  • People's Defence Force (PDF): with the independence of Singapore and the passing of the People's Defence Force Act in 1965, the SVF was subsumed into the People's Defence Force and its units were absorbed into the Singapore Armed Forces as full-time National Service operational battalions (reserve combat unit) to supplement the regular army.[9] In addition, a volunteer force was considered as the fastest way for the nation to build up a credible defence force before the conscription-based national service was introduced in March 1967.[10] Many volunteer officers were also transferred to the regular army. The volunteers continued to play a role in national security, which included the training of part-time National Servicemen when National Service was introduced in 1967, whilst the PDF also reduced the need to raise and maintain a large army on a permanent basis.[11] With the introduction of compulsory full-time national service, growth of NS and the SAF, the number of volunteers declined and dwindled, and the last Volunteer battalion, 101st PDF Battalion, held its final parade in 1984 and was disbanded in March 1984.[12]
  • 2nd People's Defence Force (2 PDF): in March 1984, 101 PDF was disbanded, thereby bringing an end to its volunteers branch.[13] The reservists branch of the PDF, however, continued to exist and was split into 1 PDF Command and 2 PDF Command on 1 April 1985.[14] On 6 December 2004, 1 PDF Command was drawn down and its units transferred to the Combined Arms Division to enhance its operational capability.[15] On the other hand, the capability of 2 PDF was enhanced over the years. Today, it plays a key role in protecting key installations and in coordinating military resources to assist other agencies during civil emergencies.[16]


To be reliable, respected and resilient volunteers who are competent, confident and committed, ready to serve to enhance the peace and security of Singapore.


The mission of SAFVC Volunteers (SV) is to serve in assigned roles alongside SAF NSFs, NSmen and regulars to enhance the security of Singapore.[17]

"Steadfast & Vigilant"

  • The SAFVC is steadfast; drawing on the spirit, fortitude and resilience of the SAFVC Volunteers to stand united with our NSFs, NSmen and Regulars in defending Singapore.
  • The SAFVC is vigilant; a credible and committed force that is ever watchful and never tiring in its mission to protect Singapore.

As homage to the illustrious 160-year history of Volunteer Military Service in Singapore, the SAFVC logo incorporates elements from the original SVC coat of arms, such as the circular shield, banner and laurel which together with the lion, portray power and courage. Its statant posture with its head facing forward and tail curved over its back, symbolises the steadfastness and vigilance.

The outline of Singapore above the lion is a fitting reminder that the country is now a proud and independent state that relies on her people for defence.

The gold of the logo, being the colour of the brass ammunition, signifies the martial nature of the SAFVC. This, together with the deep blue background, symbolises the common foundation of the SAFVC and the SAF.

Eligibility, selection and training

Requirements and eligibility

  • Singaporean women, first-generation PR or new citizen
  • Between the ages of 18 and 45 years old
  • No NS Liability
  • Physically and medically fit & active


The first cohort of volunteers for its infancy year (2015) saw slightly a thousand applicants and since then, the SAFVC has to interview applicants and conduct background checks to assess their suitability and security clearance. Among the applications received, though 85 per cent were eligible, only some 150 volunteers was initially selected for the 2015 cohort[18] however due to overwhelming response the 2015 cohort had 226 volunteers graduating for the year.[19] Due to it being in its infancy stage and also the issue of national security being a concern, acceptance is stringent. Among the female volunteers, a notable number of them are of young age even some still pursuing further tertiary studies. Across all three intakes of the pioneering batch, slightly more than half (51 per cent) are Singapore citizens, while PRs make up the rest. Four in 10 are women and those aged between 30 and 40 make up a slight majority. One in three are aged below 30, and one in 10 volunteers are above 40.[18] The selection process involves an interview by SAF panel members followed by medical examination.


The SAFVC volunteers (SV) will undergo a two-week basic military induction course to be educated on basic military skills and values which is part of a four phase progressive training program in the SAFVC. Each phase is designed to develop the SVs, maintain their competencies, and deploy them in meaningful roles throughout their service.

  • Experience Phase (3 Years)

SVs will complete their Basic Training (Continuous-2weeks stay in camp or Modular-weekends for 10 weeks), Qualification Training (One week), and where applicable, Advanced Training (One week). The Basic Training encompass Aerobic & Strength Training, marching/foot drills, regimental discipline, Technical Handling of SAR 21, Individual Marksmanship Training (IMT), live firing / Basic Trainfire Package (BTP), First Aid Training (CPR & AED), Individual Field Craft (IFC), Urban Ops (UO) / Close Quarter Battle (CQB), route march, Standard Obstacle Course (SOC), Battle Inoculation Course (BIC), Individual Physical Proficiency Familiarisation. After completion of training, SVs will be adequately prepared for their various roles and will be deployed to perform basic tasks under the close supervision of experienced commanders. This will build basic job proficiencies.[20] New enlistees begin as SV (Trainees), and will be promoted to SV1 as well as being issued a dark blue beret just like other combat support units upon completion of their Qualification Training together. Subsequent promotions are dependent on years of service, as well as conduct and performance.[12]

  • Perform Phase (3 Years)

SVs may be deployed to perform more challenging roles, with less supervision. Currency and skills training will keep SVs engaged, as well as improve their skills.

  • Lead Phase (4 Years)

Leadership modules will be introduced to equip selected SVs with the skills to take on leadership roles within SAFVC.

  • Mentor Phase

Senior SVs, with more than 10 years of experience, may take up mentor or trainer roles within the SAFVC.

Roles and service

  • Security - Auxiliary Security Trooper
  • Naval Operations - Bridge Watchkeeper, Deck Operator (Seamanship)
  • C4 Command, Control Communications & Computers - C4 Expert
  • Engineering - Airbase Civil Engineer, Naval Safety Engineer, Naval Combat/Platform Engineer
  • Information - Infomedia Staff
  • Legal - Legal Specialist Staff
  • Maritime Trainers - Merchant Ship Engineering Trainer, Merchant Ship Operations Trainer
  • Medical Trainers - Doctors, Dentist, Medical Technologists, Nurse, Radiographer
  • Psychology - Defence Psychologist

Roles, such as those in engineering, medicine or law, require prior work experience, while others like the AST, InfoMedia Staff and Bridge Watchkeeper are open to all.

67 per cent, of the volunteers in the first intake will be trained as security troopers, guarding key installations across Singapore alongside active servicemen and reservists. The rest will serve in specialised roles. Volunteers serving as information and media staff make up the second-largest group (13 per cent), while a handful of volunteers will become medical trainers, maritime trainers, defence psychologists, bridge watchkeepers and deck operators. A small group, or 2 per cent, will serve as experts of command, control, communications and computers (C4).[18]

As of July 2018, SAFVC has offered more roles and services are on offer.[21]

Volunteers are typically called up to serve up to fourteen days per annum, alongside servicemen and women from the Army, Navy and Air Force, donning the SAFVC formation patch on their respective green, grey or blue uniforms.[12]


A distinctive rank structure was created for the SAFVC Volunteers (SVs) since their voluntary contribution are distinct from those mandatory of regulars and national servicemen. It is also to discrete them from SAF Volunteers, former NSmen who continue to service past the statutory age.[12] The SAFVC ranks comprise five tiers, enumerated by winged chevrons.

Volunteer 1
Volunteer 2
Volunteer 3
Volunteer 4
Abbreviation SV


The SAFVC Headquarters is based in Maju Camp, which is along Clementi Road. All Basic Volunteer Training will also be conducted within Maju Camp.

Notable members

  • Janil Puthucheary,[20] Malaysian-born politician and medical doctor from Singapore. Member of Parliament (MP) representing the Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency since 2011.
  • Kelly Latimer, Singapore-based TV host and emcee.[5]

See also


  2. "About SAFVC". Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original on 27 September 2018. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  3. "SAF Volunteer Corps | Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps". Archived from the original on 16 November 2018. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  4. "New SAF volunteer scheme for professionals". Archived from the original on 25 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  6. Makepeace, Brooke & Braddell, 1991, Vol. 2, pp. 606–607; Blythe, W. (1969). The impact of Chinese secret societies in Malaya: A historical study (pp. 75–79). London: Oxford University Press. Call no.: RSEA 366.09595 BLY; Winsley, 1938, p. 2.
  7. "Dalforce at the Fall of Singapore in 1942: An Overseas Chinese Heroic Legend"
  8. Dalforce Archived 1 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved on 16 September 2007.
  9. "The Singapore Armed Forces / managing editor: Martin Choo ; production manager: Tan Cher Peow ; editors: Chan Hock Sen, Robert Chew, Low Kheng Joo".
  10. Government of Singapore. (23 August 2012). The Lions’ trial. Retrieved 14 April 2015, from Ministry of Defence website: Archived 25 March 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  11. "Parliamentary debates : official report".
  12. "File Not Found".
  13. Wai, R. (1 April 1984). Well done! ...and thanks. The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  14. Government of Singapore. (4 November 2013). Brigades and battalions: HQ 21 Singapore Infantry Brigade. Retrieved 14 April 2015, from Ministry of Defence website:
  15. Government of Singapore. (November/December 2004). Reorganising 1 PDF, progressing in transformation. Army News, 114, 2. Retrieved 14 April 2015, from Ministry of Defence website at: Archived 28 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  16. Government of Singapore. (4 May 2010). The 2 People’s Defence Force. Retrieved 14 April 2015, from Ministry of Defence, website: Archived 26 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  17. "About SAFVC | Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps". Archived from the original on 27 September 2018. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  18. "First batch of volunteers - including an MP - enlist into SAF Volunteer Corps". Archived from the original on 28 April 2015. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  19. "First cohort of SAFVC volunteers mark end of basic training". Archived from the original on 29 June 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  20. "First intake of SAF Volunteer Corps enlisted". Archived from the original on 23 October 2017. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  21. Zhang, Lim Min (25 June 2018). "More roles on offer for SAF Volunteer Corps". The New Paper. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
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