Singapore

It's not crazy, it's the navy: RSN launches new recruitment campaign

"Join the navy? You must be crazy," a father tells his daughter and flings her duffel bag - presumably packed for her first day of enlistment - into a swimming pool.

This is the opening scene of a video posted by the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) yesterday and sets the theme for its latest recruitment campaign: The way friends and family often react to news of a loved one signing on with the maritime force.

"We really wanted to tell people that it's not crazy to join the navy, if you understand our mission, our ideas and all the things that we do to ensure the safety, security and sovereignty of this country," said Colonel Ho Jee Kien, who heads the RSN's personnel department.

The action-packed, cinematic advertisement can be viewed on RSN's social media channels. It will be complemented by shorter clips on different navy vocations that will be rolled out during the year.

They form part of a new recruitment campaign seeking to appeal to Generation Z, or those born from the mid-1990s.

The RSN also aims to attract applications across the board, from students, pre-enlistees to national service and full-time national servicemen to mid-career workers.

This comes as Singapore braces for a one-third decline in the pool of servicemen by 2030, due to falling birth rates. In 2019, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen called this the "greatest internal challenge" the Singapore Armed Forces faces.

Still, the RSN has not set a recruitment target for its latest campaign.

"What is important is not mass applications, but quality applications," said Major Eileen Sow, head of the Navy Recruitment Centre.

The hatch is also wide open for women, as suggested by the casting of a woman to kick off the 21/2-minute recruitment video. It also reflects what Maj Sow, 35, described as an observable increase in local women interested in a naval career.

"During my time in midshipmen school in the early 2000s, we had only four to five females per batch," she said. "Today, we are seeing between 10 and 20."

Col Ho, 46, added that the reality of Singapore as a maritime country - that counts on food and essentials also arriving by sea routes - has been brought into sharper focus over the past year, due to the pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions.

"We wanted our audience to ponder the idea of protecting our lifeline and our livelihood," he said. "We believe it is crazier to leave your country undefended… (so) it's not crazy, it's the navy."

Team Singapore