Chief of Defence Force (CDF) Major-General (MG) Perry Lim was in Australia for his working visit from 16 to 18 Nov. As part of his visit, MG Lim called on Chief of the Australian Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin in Canberra on 17 Nov. Accompanied by Director Joint Operations Brigadier-General (BG) Desmond Tan, MG Lim also visited the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF's) 130 Squadron (SQN) and Standards SQN at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Pearce in Perth on 18 Nov as part of his visit.
Both 130 SQN and the Standards SQN are part of the RSAF's Flying Training Institute (FTI). 130 SQN conducts the nine-month long Basic Wings Course, which equips potential RSAF pilots with the knowledge and skills of basic flying before they progress to advanced aircraft training. The Standards SQN ensures flying instructional standards and the promulgation of best practices within the FTI, and in the RSAF.
During the visit, MG Lim and BG Tan tried out a flight simulator which was part of 130 SQN's suite of ground-based training systems. The flight simulator could generate complex operational scenarios aimed at enhancing the RSAF pilot trainees' situational awareness and skills in aerial tactics. CDF also had the opportunity to fly on the Pilatus PC-21 trainer aircraft with the Commanding Officer of the Standards SQN, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Lee Joon Guan.
MG Lim concluded the visit by interacting with the pilot trainees, instructors and ground crew deployed in Perth.
At age 40, Military Expert (ME) 4A Melvinder Singh had completed his National Service cycle. But he not only chose to extend it, he went for a course to take up a command appointment. Indeed, he jumped at the opportunity when it was offered to him.
For me, whether I had attained the Senior ME rank or not, my role would have been the same - to give back what I've received, and to teach the guys how to attain (mission) readiness when the button is pressed on board merchant ships.
As a marine pilot with Port of Singapore Authority, ME4A Singh is well-versed in the area of merchant marina. When called back for In-Camp Training (ICT), he performed the role of chief mate on board a civil resource ship in the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN)'s 192/193 Squadron (SQN) - getting his men to work as a team, and showing them how to operate on board the ship to achieve mission success.
Explaining his desire to continue doing NS, ME4A Singh said: If you are going to bring in NSmen (Operationally-Ready National Servicemen) on board merchant ships, who else is going to teach them, if not us, when we are already here?
Our merchant marine community in Singapore is very small and (the Navy needs to) tap our expertise. We have limited resources, and it will be difficult to run a squadron (if all of us only serve NS up to age 40). This motivated him to extend his NS so that he could share his merchant marina expertise. We need to defend our own country, he said.
ME4A Singh was one of 20 NSmen who were appointed Senior MEs under the Expertise Conversion Scheme at the SAFTI Military Institute on 27 Nov. He will take on the role of Commanding Officer of a merchant ship within the RSN whenever he goes back for ICT.
The scheme allows eligible NSmen to convert to military experts and provides more opportunities for those with deep civilian professional expertise to voluntarily continue contributing to the nation's defence. This is done through enhancing operational capabilities in areas identified by the SAF.
Among the NSmen who were appointed, eight were from the Army and 12 from the Navy. They were among the 105 servicemen and women who received their senior ME ranks this evening.
Senior Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, who officiated at the appointment ceremony, said: (The ECS) empowers our NSmen possessing specialisation in critical domains to assume leadership appointments within the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). NSmen joining this corps bring with them valuable civilian expertise that can enhance the SAF's operational capabilities.
Commenting that the SAF had become a stronger and more potent fighting force because of the diverse experiences, knowledge and skills that each ME possessed, Dr Maliki said that the MEs were important in leading innovation with the SAF to meet the challenges posed by global and regional developments.
To ensure that the SAF's fighting edge remains sharp, we depend on you, the Military Experts, to drive continuous innovations, develop and deliver expert solutions. As leaders, the task falls upon you to model and lead in creating and sustaining innovative culture within the communities and teams that you are part of.
For ME4A Allen Ong, it was this leadership shown by his commanders which inspired him to become a Senior ME.
As a then-ground control station specialist in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)'s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Command, he saw how his commanding officer worked closely with the ground crew whenever problems arose, to come up with solutions. Work processes became much more effective and efficient. This increased the morale of the men under the commander's charge, and they also became more committed to their work.
I saw how these leaders made an impact on those under their charge, and I was very inspired to have an opportunity to be a positive influence to others, said the 28-year-old.
With that, he took up a part-time degree in UniSim and requested an emplacement to become a Senior ME upon completion of his degree. He was also grateful that the Senior ME course equipped him with the necessary skills to take up leadership positions within the Air Force.
ME4A Ong said the course gave him exposure, in terms of widening and deepening my knowledge in the respective RSAF systems that we have. This really helped me to understand in-depth how the RSAF systems integrate and contribute to the defence of Singapore.
He is currently taking on the role of an officer-in-charge (designate) in 809 SQN, maintaining the Air-Land Tactical Control Centre.
Moving from a Defence Executive Officer (DXO) to a Regular is not common, but ME4A Jelyn Lee was inspired by her then-formation commander to convert to the military scheme.
While working as an analyst in the Imagery Support Group (ISG), ME4A Lee was inspired by her commander who shared his experiences as a soldier. She felt that there were many opportunities for personal development and unique experiences that being a soldier could bring. The 25-year-old was also attracted by the symbolism of the uniform, the responsibilities that came with it, and the esprit-de-corps among military personnel.
ME4A Lee, who will be appointed a staff officer in ISG, said: We bring different expertise to the table… I see it more as a partnership (between DXOs and military personnel). But being a uniformed personnel in a military organisation definitely has its benefits because of the flexibility in deployments. We will be more exposed to different experiences, and this will allow me to perform my job better.
The ceremony was also attended by Chief of Defence Force Major-General Perry Lim, senior SAF officers as well as families and friends of the newly-appointed Senior MEs.
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is a capable and competent force that is ready to respond to contingencies.
Senior Minister of State for Defence Ong Ye Kung said this after his visit to the Army's Standby Force at Amoy Quee Camp on 26 Nov.
There is a high level of efficiency and proficiency. The young men are highly motivated, said Mr Ong. He saw how soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment responded quickly to an activation exercise.
About 500 soldiers were involved in the exercise. The men assembled on the parade square with their weapons and equipment within minutes of being activated.
They are part of a larger homeland security system that places various active SAF units on standby throughout the year. The Army's Standby Force comprises units from various vocations, including armour and artillery units, with capabilities such as the Leopard 2SG Main Battle Tanks and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).
Mr Ong said the equipment used now was much better than what he had when he was doing National Service, adding: There is more technology involved now and our soldiers are better equipped. For example, he saw the quick ammunition-loading device that allows soldiers to fill a rifle magazine quickly.
He noted that, although Singapore had enjoyed a long period of peace and stability, the SAF remained vigilant. He said: Since 2001, we've been upping our vigilance, especially over our key installations, such as Changi Airport and Jurong Island.
Mr Ong also noted that the SAF had been involved in large-scale national security exercises, like the recent Exercise Highcrest. The SAF had also sent its soldiers to support multinational operations, such as the fight against ISIS.
We have capabilities that have been tested on the ground, and we stand ready (for contingencies), he said.
During the visit, Mr Ong observed the soldiers doing weapon drills on the General Purpose Machine Gun, Section Assault Weapon and M110 sniper rifle. He also saw fire movement and breaching drills.
At the end of the visit, Mr Ong said he was confident that the SAF stands ready for any contingency and (is) ready to protect the country.
What is it like to teach PE to students more than 40 years younger than you? Army Regular-turned-PE teacher LTC (Ret) Kok Wai Tong shares his experience.
Most people in their fifties would prefer a slower pace of life to enjoy their golden years. But not Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) (Ret) Kok. At the age of 48, he put himself through a back-breaking physical proficiency test, all in a bid to become a physical education (PE) teacher.
Imagine standing on your hands, doing the cartwheel when you are almost 50, recalled LTC (Ret) Kok, now 66, who is working at Serangoon Junior College.
I wasn't sure if I could even do it, but somehow I managed, he laughed.
Apart from his initial lack of flexibility, being older was never an obstacle. The former Artillery officer, who spent 29 years in the Army, is still in tip-top shape. He never failed to ace his annual Individual Physical Proficiency Test.
What he enjoys most in his job is being able to influence young people. LTC (Ret) Kok recalled one incident vividly. In his first school, as the teacher-in-charge of Riverside Secondary's football team, he once banned his best player because of disciplinary problems. The team captain and other students petitioned against his decision, but he stood firm.
Discipline is important; there are no two ways about it. If you make a mistake, you pay for it. But more importantly, you don't stop there, you have to move on, and learn to re-organise the team, he explained.
The captain rallied the team, and they emerged among the top four in the North Zone. A good result, said LTC (Ret) Kok, because this was the school's debut in the national school games' football tournament.
I was very proud, in the sense that I allowed the students to work things out among themselves.
Establishing more regular dialogues between both Defence Ministers, deepening collaboration in maritime security and boosting cooperation between Singapore and India's defence industries. These are the agreements stated in the revised Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) between Singapore and India.
The revised DCA was concluded alongside the India-Singapore Strategic Partnership signed by Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, at the Istana on 24 Nov.
Under the ambit of an Enhanced Defence Partnership, the revised DCA was signed by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and Indian Minister of Defence Manohar Parrikar. The DCA was also symbolically exchanged by Permanent Secretary for Defence Chan Yeng Kit, and Indian Foreign Secretary Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, in the presence of both Prime Ministers.
Commenting that the revised DCA was a significant milestone from the first one signed more than 10 years ago, Dr Ng said: Our defence ties have committed to meetings at the highest level between defence ministers regularly… and more military-to-military ties and exercises.
Specifically, (there is) also closer collaboration for maritime security… (and) an agreement on exchange of information for white-shipping. (White-shipping refers to commercial shipping information about movement of cargo ships.)
He added that this collaboration put defence relations between both countries on a better footing, and signalled that Singapore and India had become closer defence partners.
On the topic of maritime security, Dr Ng said that both countries valued the importance of peace and stability, with reduced tensions and minimal possibility of any disruption to global trade and maritime lanes.
He said: Maritime security is an essential lifeline for economies or trade in this region, whether it's the South China Sea or Straits of Malacca. India's voice will be heard and we share common perspectives in terms of common stability.
The revised DCA also coincided with the signing of a Technical Agreement on the Sharing of White-Shipping Information between the Republic of Singapore Navy and the Indian Navy in July this year. With the TA, this has allowed Singapore's Information Fusion Centre and India's Directorate of Network Centric Operations to exchange real-time white-shipping information for greater maritime awareness and sense-making.
The revised DCA is seen as bringing the defence relations between Singapore and India a few notches up, as both countries commemorate 50 years of diplomatic relations.
Defence interactions between both countries include high-level visits, policy dialogues, joint military training, defence technology cooperation, courses, seminars and other professional exchanges.
Runner-up of the SAF50 Story Contest, Mr Michael Sim, 51, writes about how he encouraged his children to live out the military dream he had been unable to fulfil.
Since young, I was taught the need to build up our national defence in order to guard our independence. My father was that unsung hero who inspired me in many ways.
He taught me that even when one is not in the Army, one can still contribute to nation-building in many other ways: being a responsible citizen; giving back to society as much as one possibly can; and being proud of who we are. Yes, we, the citizens of Singapore!
When my turn came to serve the country, I received crushing news from the Ministry of Defence - a letter instructing me to collect a Certificate of Full Exemption.
My hopes were dashed but eventually I reminded myself of what my father had taught me. Hey, I can still contribute to our country in many other ways!
Since I couldn't personally serve in our defence, I had to market my ideas to my children. My eldest daughter Marilyn stepped up, as she, too, was passionate about the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).
Some say journalist Benita Teo must be very brave to put herself out there and do this. In truth, the Singapore Armed Forces Music and Drama Company (SAF MDC) are the real brave ones for saying yes to her co-hosting Recruits' Night.
I feel like I'm in a vacuum: I can barely breathe, my heart is thumping in my ear, and all my thoughts are racing at the speed of light. And it's dark all around.
The moments before the curtains rise are always the hardest.
I turn to my co-host, Corporal (CPL) Shrey Bhargava. He looks collected and confident, while I'm not even sure if I remember my first line.
The curtains open slowly, and the mass of recruits at the Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) starts to grow before our eyes. The spotlights come on and like a supernova, we burst into life… BMTC, ARE YOU READY TO HAVE SOME FUN?
In March last year, Military Expert (ME) 4 David Mohan S/O Arumugam was deployed for a search-and-locate operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the South China Sea.
His frigate RSS Steadfast had just returned to Singapore after completing a bilateral exercise with the Royal Malaysia Navy.
Despite this, he and his crew had no complaints. In fact, he was glad that their training was put to good use, and they were able to work seamlessly with their Malaysian naval counterparts.
Our peace-time training over the years and through the various exercises with foreign navies were valuable in ensuring our preparedness for real operations, he explained.
ME4 David was among 661 personnel from the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) who received the National Day Awards on 20 Nov.
The 48-year-old received the Efficiency Medal for his sterling contributions to the Navy. As Squadron Coxswain of 182/189 Squadron, he is the mentor to about 400 sailors.
A total of 79 Commendation Medals, 115 Efficiency Medals and 475 Long Service Medals were given out to both military and non-military personnel at the National Day Awards Investiture held at MINDEF. These awards recognise their outstanding performance and dedication to duty and service.
The ceremony was officiated by Senior Ministers of State for Defence Ong Ye Kung and Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman.
Shouldering heavy responsibilities
For Lieutenant Colonel (NS) Adrian Toh, who received the Long Service Medal, the most significant moment in his 25-year-long career came when he took on the role of a test pilot from 2003 to 2007.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force was then looking for replacements for its ageing A-4 fighter jets.
It was thrilling to be flying these air craft (that the RSAF was looking at purchasing), but the biggest challenge was to objectively evaluate each aircraft, said the 44-year-old, an F-15 and F-16 fighter pilot by training.
We are talking about a billion-dollar acquisition in which the security of the country is at the forefront of our decision-making process.
He just retired from the RSAF in May this year, and will be serving as an Operationally Ready National Serviceman (NSman) in the Air Operations Department.
It has been a fulfilling career, and I have always enjoyed my work in the Air Force. I look forward to working with my colleagues again as an NSman, said the 44-year-old, now a commercial pilot.
Another award winner was 1st Warrant Officer (1WO) Omar Bin Osman, a Sergeant Major in the Infantry Training Institute.
He derives great satisfaction in grooming junior specialists into capable warrant officers. His former trainees, who have since risen through the ranks, still go to him for advice.
That (in) itself speaks volumes of how you can win people’s hearts, said the Efficiency Medal recipient.
The 40-year-old recently completed the Sergeant Major course in the United States Army Sergeant Majors Academy in June.
He trained alongside soldiers from 30 military forces worldwide. One of his key takeaways was being able to learn from his counterparts and bring some of their best practices into his work in the SAF.
I am committed to give my 110 percent. Whatever challenge that I might face along the way, I know the SAF has prepared me well, he added.
Also on the honour list
At an earlier National Day Awards Ceremony on 8 Nov, 14 MINDEF and SAF personnel received awards from President Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam.
Former Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General (NS) Ng Chee Meng received the Pingat Jasa Gemilang (Tentara) [Meritorious Service Medal (Military)], and Assistant Chief of General Staff (Operations) Brigadier-General Siew Kum Wong received the Public Administration Medal (Silver) (Bar) (Military).
The award recipients also comprised nine senior SAF officers who received the Public Administration Medal (Silver) (Military), and three MINDEF personnel who received the Public Administration Medal (Silver).
In a separate awards ceremony officiated by Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong on 11 Nov, 28 senior SAF officers received the Public Administration Medal (Bronze) (Military), and eight MINDEF personnel received the Public Administration Medal (Bronze).
The blast of a Leopard 2SG tank's main gun rips across the open field, breaking the silence. Right on cue, four AH-64D Apache helicopters file in from above, one after the other, firing into the distance.
The enemy is in disarray, and begins to move across the field. But the armoured fighters are not letting up. Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) begin to rain bullets on the moving target, accompanied by mortar bombs.
With a final explosion of fire from the Leopard tank, the target is finally taken down. The Armoured Battle Group (ABG) has achieved mission success.
Witnessing this air-land integrated strike at Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) in Queensland, Australia on 20 Nov was Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen.
More than 4,000 SAF personnel and 400 SAF platforms are taking part in this year’s Exercise Wallaby (XWB), which marks the 25th anniversary of the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF's) training at SWBTA.
Held from 28 Sep to 25 Nov, XWB 2015 saw the largest number of participating assets from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), which included AH-64D Apaches, CH-47 Chinooks and the Air-Land Tactical Control Centre.
Dr Ng, who had arrived in Rockhampton, Queensland after meeting his Australian counterpart Marise Payne the day before, expressed his appreciation to Australia for its support and cooperation with the SAF: Over these last 25 years, the exercises (we held) have become more and more complex. I'm very happy to see that we are making full use of these opportunities (to train here).
Noting the benefits of the large training space in SWBTA, Dr Ng said: It provides our armoured soldiers and national servicemen credible opportunities (and) very realistic training to hone their skills. This is very important (in building up our) confidence and professionalism.
Brigadier-General (BG) Kenneth Liow, Chief Armour Officer and Exercise Director for XWB 2015, echoed his sentiments: Exercise Wallaby, given the vast and extensive terrain here, allows us…to really stretch out and exercise the units. We do so in terms of manoeuvres, evaluation and live firing. The terrain also allows us to conduct the live firing and manoeuvres in an air-land context as well.
Camp life at Exercise Wallaby
As part of his visit, Dr Ng met with RSAF personnel at Warriors Camp. The camp is the RSAF’s new permanent base in Rockhampton and has a parking area that can hold up to nine Chinook helicopters.
The very valuable training space - not just land but air … allows us to constantly hone the skills of our personnel, in terms of their tactics, techniques and procedures… (We can) launch our assets more quickly and in a more tactically realistic environment and scenario, explained Colonel (COL) Teoh Chun Ping of the move to Warriors Camp. He is the Exercise Air Director for frame three of XWB 2015.
Dr Ng also visited Camp Growl, where the troops had been based for XWB 2015. While most only resided in Camp Growl during their respective exercise frames, others, like the Forward Support Group’s Military Expert (ME) 3-1 Balasubramaniam s/o Suppiah, arrived at Camp Growl three days before the start of the exercise and would only leave after all the soldiers had left.
As the Maintenance Overall In-Charge (OIC), ME3-1 Balasubramaniam saw to the shipping of all the SAF's wheeled and track vehicles to Rockhampton and back to Singapore.
It was a long and vigorous process, as he explained: We took over the vehicles - all the different variants - from each individual unit…and washed all of them. Then we had to go through another round of checks to ensure that all the vehicles were still serviceable.
(And) because the Leopard tanks are huge vehicles, they could only be transported at certain times of the day, which was early morning or late night.
Stepping up to the plate
Despite the long period away from home and tough weather conditions, servicemen valued the opportunity to train at XWB15.
Lieutenant (LTA) Ken Nakamoto even extended his operationally-ready date (ORD) to participate in the exercise. A Deputy S2 in 40th Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment (40 SAR), he was able to play a commanding role at XWB 2015.
Because my boss couldn't come, he gave me the opportunity to step up… This will prepare me for my NSman (Operationally Ready National Serviceman) role as well, said the 21-year-old Intelligence Officer.
He credited his colleagues for making his XWB a memorable one: The Regulars I work with are very professional. And the commanders in 40 SAR manage to find the sweet spot between being friends, commanders and colleagues.
I feel comfortable working with them. These small things, like your branch mates and commanders, played a part in my decision to extend (my ORD).
Like LTA Nakamoto, ME5-1 (NS) Alex Yang was glad to have the chance to contribute to XWB. Although the 38-year-old Managing Director of CWT Aerospace Services Private Limited had to juggle family and work commitments while in Rockhampton, he was heartened to see NSmen shoulder responsibilities just like the Regular force. An air force engineer, he is Officer Commanding of Integrated Maintenance Flight in 806 Squadron.
NSmen form an important pool…to fulfill the functions and roles that we are assigned to. If I were to think of myself as an outsider, I would be very uncomfortable taking on responsibilities, he said.
We need to have the mindset that NSmen form an integral part of the fighting force… I believe (the SAF's) doctrine today provides for that.
Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) who are soon completing their two years of National Service (NS) now have more help in transiting to the work force or higher education.
At the first Enhanced Career Fair, held from 18 to 19 Nov at Lifelong Learning Institute, a total of 77 multinational and local companies as well as educational and training institutes offered a wide range of job opportunities and courses for NSFs.
The Enhanced Career Fair is one of 30 recommendations put up by the Committee to Strengthen National Service. It also includes a Career Skills Workshop, where NSFs can hone their communication skills and learn how to prepare for job interviews.
Jointly organised by the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Ministry of Home Affairs, in collaboration with the SingaporeWorkforce Development Agency (WDA), and the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD), the two-day event is expected to see more than 4,000 NSFsfrom the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and Home Team in attendance.
Director of MINDEF's NS Affairs, Brigadier-General (BG) (NS) Tung Yui Fai, who visited the career fair on 18 Nov, highlighted that the career fair was a deliberate effort to provide more options for NSFs.
Through ACCORD and WDA, we are able to tap onto a larger network of employers and educational institutions across different industries and sectors so that our servicemen can find a career or field of study that is relevant and of interest to them.
One NSF who stands to benefit is Private (PTE) Mohd Hairie, a trooper from 3rd Battalion, Singapore Guards who will be completing his full-time NS in three weeks' time.
He hopes to work in the petroleum industry, and through the career fair, has found out more about the job opportunities available at Shell, one of the largest oil companies in the world.
The career fair is useful as I am going to finish my NS soon, and I was able to speak to the staff at Shell to find out more about the industry, said the 21-year-old who is applying for a technician position there.
Highly sought-after by employers
The career fair not only allowed NSFs to find out more about the various hiring sectors and job requirements, but also enabled employers to tap on this source of manpower, said Mr Francis Lee, Director, Career Services Division, WDA.
NSFs like PTE Hairie are sought after by companies for their maturity andexperience working in a team.
For instance, Micron, a multinational-company that produces semiconductors, is targeting to hire NSFs because of their strong sense of responsibility which has been honed from military training.
Micron needs people with a deep sense of responsibility and accountability. We believe that NS training helps to build up these soft skills, explained Mr Sunny Yau, a senior recruiter. The firm is aiming to hire a few hundred engineers and technicians.
Similarly, Ms Juliana Ang, Gain City's director of Human Resource and Administration, noted that NSFs are trained to be disciplined andto work as a unit - traits that make them conscientious workers and team players.
Other technical or leadership skills (that they have acquired during NS) will be a good value-add, she said.
The home-grown home appliances and electronics retailer is offering a wide range of jobs from technicians to frontline managers.
Servicemen who require further assistance on employment and training services can contact WDA Career Centres at 6883 5885 for an appointment.
Talk about an overachiever - Ranger-trained SSG Zac Douglas Xu Peiwen is dedicated to doing his best in both training and studies.
From winning titles like Platoon Best Recruit to gaining the coveted Ranger tab to receiving the Continuous Learning Academic Study Scheme (CLASS) Degree sponsorship, Staff Sergeant (SSG) Xu, 27, has pushed himself constantly to become a better soldier.
A platoon sergeant in 3rd Battalion, Singapore Guards (3 Gds) now, SSG Xu began his career in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in 2008 under the Joint Polytechnic-SAF Diploma Scheme. Joining the Army has been my dream since young. I want to inspire and make a difference in people's lives.
Mastering the basics
Even during his Basic Military Training, SSG Xu set his goals high. He was in a platoon which comprised only Regulars and re-course trainees, and being in such a platoon pushed each individual to strive to be the most outstanding.
Working hard and clinching Platoon Best Recruit, he repeated the feat during his Basic Section Leaders Course. It was perhaps no surprise that he went on to receive Company Best in his Advanced Section Leaders Course, as well as Best in Physical Training for the entire cohort.
Following his graduation as a 3rd Sergeant and the completion of his Guards Conversion Course, SSG Xu was immediately thrown into the thick of action. Just after he was posted to 1 Gds as a section commander, the battalion went overseas for a training exercise.
SSG Xu was appointed point section commander and tasked to lead the entire company to their objective. I had to lead the company and also take charge of my own section, he elaborated. While the company was taking breaks, I had to move forward to recce and confirm the direction. On top of that, I had to check on my section and account for them and their equipment.
I constantly reminded myself that the company was relying on me, and tried to adapt quickly to the situation to complete all our objectives.
No one country has adequate resources to combat transnational threats such as terrorism, piracy and natural disasters. This was pointed out by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen during his visit to Thailand from 16 to 17 Nov.
He emphasised that because you cannot build trust and interoperability overnight, it was important for regional militaries to continue having exercises, dialogues and exchanges in bilateral as well as multilateral settings.
Recent incidents such as the terror attacks in Paris and Lebanon give us an impetus to continue to build that trust with each other, so that commanders can understand each other and call on each other when they need to, he said.
During his visit to Thailand, Dr Ng met Thai Prime Minister General (GEN) Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence GEN Prawit Wongsuwon. The leaders reaffirmed the close, long-standing military ties between both countries, and discussed defence initiatives including enhancing joint military exercises between both militaries.
There is common ground. We recognise that there can be shared resources; we talked about more collaboration, more military-to-military training. These things do not grab headlines, but it is vital to just doggedly keep on building this relationship, said Dr Ng.
Both armed forces interact regularly through numerous bilateral and multilateral exercises such as Singsiam, Cope Tiger and Cobra Gold.
The ministers also spoke about regional challenges such as terrorism and escalating tensions in the South China Sea. Noting the need to continue finding consensus and common ground, Dr Ng emphasised that the Code of Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) was a step in the right direction…(but) should be extended to include non-military shipping (as well as) the air domain…to avoid incidents between military aircraft .
As part of his two-day trip, Dr Ng interacted with newly appointed military leaders Thai Chief of Defence Forces GEN Sommai Kaotira, Thai Permanent Secretary for Defence GEN Preecha Jan-o-cha, Royal Thai Army Commander-in-Chief GEN Teerachai Nakwanich and Royal Thai Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Na Areenich. Thai Deputy Minister for Defence GEN Udomdej Sitabutr and Royal Thai Air Force Commander-in-Chief Air Chief Marshal Treetod Sonjance were present at the meetings.
He also visited the Royal Thai Air Force Headquarters in Don Muang and the Royal Thai Army 21st Infantry Regiment in Chonburi.