1967: Singapore's first soldiers
Having obtained a doctorate from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1956, Dr Goh Keng Swee disagreed with then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew that a small militia was enough to protect Singapore.
Dr Goh argued for a conscription model, making it compulsory for all male Singaporeans to become national service enlistees when they reach 18 years of age.
The first swearing in officer Major (Ret) Ishwar Lall Singh, 86, remembers how the personnel at the Central Manpower Base were prepared for something to happen.
He said: "It was a very tense time. I was very worried if the recruits would get into fights in camp because they opposed conscription. That was what Barisan Sosialis iterated and I feared the young people then would be swayed by them."
Major (Ret) Singh said his intention wasn't to forcefully coerce the 18-year-olds into serving but to clarify things.
"There were some boys who understood no English, so we got them into another room and had a translator facilitate communication," he said.
"And there were also some who were hesitant about serving, so I took them aside and spoke to them."
Major (Ret) Singh said the whole process - swearing in of about 5,000 recruits a year - went smoothly.
(Above) Singapore’s first national service recruit Abel Singh (second from right) served 32 years in the Singapore Armed Forces, retiring as a lieutenant-colonel in 1999
"It was very orderly and most of the 18-year-olds seemed happy to serve. They didn't protest or start fights, they were very calm. So all my preparations to contain any fights was wasted."
He explained that creating a large army was important for Singapore, especially during the Konfrontasi era of the 1960s.
"We had very little time to create a defence force, so we invited Israeli officers to train our first soldiers quickly and we hastily constructed military camps to house our soldiers."
He said that a small country like Singapore cannot afford a standing army like other countries, so conscription was the best way to make up numbers.
"It was the best way to get an army quickly then and it continues to be a good model for our defence force."