February 19, 2008:
increasing its defense budget to $10.8 billion, a 7.2 percent increase over
last year. The island nation has a population of 3.7 million, and armed forces
of 72,000 troops, plus 350,000 reservists. Singapore is something like
Switzerland and Israel in this respect. Every able bodied male must serve for
two years, and then serve in the reserve until age 40. This allows Singapore to
mobilize a large, well trained and equipped force, on short notice.
On a per-capita basis, Singapore spends
more on the military, and has more people in uniform, than the United States.
The Singapore military is one of the best equipped, trained and led in the
region. Singapore also sits astride the most important shipping channel (the
Malacca Straits) in the world. Singapore has the best educated and most
affluent population in the region. With so much worth defending, Singapore is
ready to take on any hostile neighbors (mainly Malaysia, which Singapore used
to be part of.)
Of the three "Chinese" armed forces in
the world (the others being China and Taiwan), Singapore is the most effective,
on a per-soldier basis. Singapore spends the most per soldier on weapons,
equipment and training. China and Taiwan look to Singapore as the example of
how effective Chinese soldiers can be. But it's not a matter of being Chinese.
Singapore has long stressed education for all citizens, and borrows proven
training techniques from other armed forces. For decades, Singaporean staff
officers have studied military developments throughout the world, and
identified technology and techniques that could of use to their armed forces.