This essay was originally published in The 2nd Decade: Nation Building In Progress 1975-1985 publication. To view the Live Notes, please click here.
The decade saw the SAF develop a substantially stronger navy and air force and make continuous enhancements to the army in its efforts to transform itself into a technologically superior armed forces.
Home grown companies like Chartered Industries of Singapore, the Singapore Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, and the Singapore Aerospace Maintenance Company developed the capability to design new weapons, like assault rifles, and manufacture and upgrade complex military hardware, including small modern warships.
The new equipment made fuller use of Singapore’s increasingly well-educated soldiers who were able to quickly absorb the more complex training required to handle them. They also enabled the SAF to be leaner but more deadly, making up for the gradual decline in national serviceman intakes from the late 1970s due to falling birth rates. As Minister of Defence Dr Goh Keng Swee related in Parliament in August 1977:
“It is necessary to economise the use of manpower. As a result of successful family planning in past years, the number of young men available for national service in future years will show a steady but relentless decline. In 10 years time, the number available will be nearly 30 per cent less than what it is now…”
Addendum to Presidential Address by Minister of Defence Dr Goh Keng Swee at the Opening of the First Session of the Fourth Parliament on Tuesday, 8th February 1977- Ministry of Defence. Ministry of Culture, courtesy of NAS. Ref.: bhs19770208cs.
Apart from making improvements in hardware, the second decade saw new initiatives to attract talented Singaporeans into the armed forces. The public and professional image of the SAF was improved through public education campaigns, as well as job enhancements for SAF personnel, like better career development, overseas training opportunities, and tertiary education scholarships.
“We have had National Service for 15 years now. I believe, however, that we have not yet built up a close and natural relationship between the SAF and the people. There is still an inadequate appreciation of the importance of SAF officers.
For example, our society as a whole does not accord SAF officers the esteem they deserve. A Colonel commanding a division of 15,000 men does not carry the same prestige as a doctor in social circles. Yet, the doctor’s survival, indeed, the whole country’s survival, in times of war, may depend on that Colonel and his 15,000 men.” 
Speech by Goh Chok Tong, Minister for Defence at the Promotion Ceremony for Reservist Officers, at Beach Road Camp on Tuesday, 29 June 1982. Ministry of culture, courtesy of NAS. Ref.: gct19820629s
The SAF enhanced its air defences considerably in the second decade. High-tech anti-aircraft missiles were acquired, like the American Improved Hawk missile and the man-portable Swedish
SAF recruitment posters used in 1978.
 Addendum to Presidential Address by Minister of Defence Dr Goh Keng Swee at the Opening of the First Session of the Fourth Parliament on Tuesday, 8th February 1977- Ministry of Defence. Ministry of Culture, courtesy of NAS. Ref.: bhs19770208cs http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/speeches/record-details/735f9183-115d-11e3-83d5-0050568939ad
 Speech by Goh Chok Tong, Minister for Defence at the Promotion Ceremony for Reservist Officers, at Beach Road Camp on Tuesday, 29 June 1982. Ministry of culture, courtesy of NAS. Ref.: gct19820629s