This year's Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Day is special because we commemorate 50 years of National Service (NS). As a small country with limited manpower, we could not have built today's strong SAF without the commitment and whole-hearted support of national servicemen. The first batch of 9000 national servicemen was conscripted in 1967. Since then, more than a million sons of Singapore have fulfilled their NS duties faithfully and diligently. The result of our combined efforts is plain for all to see -- a professional tri-service modern military capable and respected worldwide and able to protect Singapore's sovereignty and keep Singaporeans safe.

The SAF must stay active and alert against the threats to our security. We live in troubled and violent times and must guard against extremist terrorists who would do us harm, here and abroad. This is why SAF soldiers together with the Home Team guard our air, land and sea borders by day and night. Their patrols around key installations and during national events give confidence to our citizens to continue life as normal.

Terror attacks have occurred in the Philippines, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Melbourne, Sydney, Paris, London, the list goes on. We cannot promise Singaporeans that no attack will occur here -- no country is immune. But we can promise Singaporeans this -- that the SAF stands ever vigilant to guard against these attacks and when it happens, to limit the damage and harm. Terrorism is a global problem that must be neutralised at its source, if we are to be safe at home. This is why the SAF was in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2013 against Al-Qaeda. Right now, the SAF is deployed in Iraq, to assist in the efforts to neutralise the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Only with a strong SAF, can Singapore be secure and Singaporeans safe. All of us know that our manpower pool will shrink in coming years -- by almost a third come 2030. The SAF is well prepared for this significant change and will continue to be a capable and advanced military. We will harness technology to allow the SAF to see further and sharper, to move quicker, and with more precise and lethal fire-power. A strong SAF will be maintained as the most effective deterrence against potential aggressors. But the SAF can only be as strong as its individual soldiers and each national serviceman and Regular must give his and her best to protect our beloved Singapore.

This SAF day, let us solemnly pledge to defend our home and fellow Singaporeans -- our families, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Only a strong SAF can keep us all safe and secure. Majulah Singapura and Happy SAF Day.