ANSWERING THE CALL OF DUTY
75 servicemen and women were awarded for their contributions to the SAF's search operations for AirAsia flight QZ9501 and the flood relief efforts in Malaysia.
30 Jun 2015, 1800 hours (GMT +8)
The Singapore Armed Forced (SAF) continues to evolve and transform, to deal with new, complex challenges and emerging threats, many of which are transnational. It has to keep transforming because challenges change; if not in nature, then in the scale of it. Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen said this during a media interview at the Ministry of Defence on 26 Jul, ahead of SAF Day, 1 Jul. Towards integrated systems Reiterating that the SAF's strategy was never to compete with numbers but with superior skills and knowledge, intelligence, information and technology, Dr Ng said that the SAF was moving towards integrated systems. These systems would allow individual teams to call on the resources of the Army, Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), thereby creating a multiplier effect from the shared information and resources. Networked force … means that any individual is able to see a wider area and with more precision than he could otherwise have. When you enter an environment, you enter an environment knowing what (it) is, and that makes a big difference in terms of modern warfare, he said. He added that the SAF would have better equipment that would enable soldiers to sense their environment and respond faster. One example is the upgrading of the RSAF's F-16 fighter jets, which have been in service since 1998. The F-16 will get a new Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar that will extend its detection range and enable it to track and engage multiple targets at greater distances. It will also come with datalink capability and an advanced helmet-mounted display that will provide pilots with superior situational awareness. The upgrade will commence next year in phases, over five to six years. More unmanned systems Dr Ng also announced that the SAF would be moving towards more unmanned systems, and systems that combine both manned and unmanned elements. With unmanned systems already deployed in the air and on sea, such as the RSAF's Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and the RSN's Protector Unmanned Surface Vessel, more will be expected to be deployed on land as well. The RSAF recently marked the Full Operational Capability status of its Hermes 450 UAV in March this year. Cyber defence for non-traditional threats A new form of warfare is emerging: the hybrid warfare. Dr Ng had explained during the Committee of Supply Debate on 6 Mar that hybrid warfare is an orchestrated campaign to fracture the solidarity of the target nation through undermining its defences in civil, economic, social, psychological and military spheres. He said: This is an important area that the SAF is focused on because small states like Singapore are particularly susceptible to hybrid warfare. More so because we are an open economy, connected to the world, and subject to varying influences. He added that hybrid warfare was now being carefully studied by students of military strategy for its ability to soften the belly of a target nation for many years and finally bring it down to its knees slowly, because people have lost the will through misinformation, or prepositioning (that) would have reduced the ability (of the target nation) to respond. Thus, cyberspace, an essential tool of hybrid warfare, is the new frontier to defend against. It can cripple your systems, it can steal your secrets, (and) give disinformation to your people such that it affects morale, he said. The Cyber Defence Operations Hub was set up in 2013. Dr Ng announced that, to guard against emerging cyber threats, an increase in Regulars and NSmen (Operationally-ready National Servicemen) being deployed to cyber ops could be expected. The Hub would also enable non-combat fit soldiers to play a bigger role in national defence. Said Dr Ng: Now you have a new arena where more and more people can make a fundamental difference, a bigger impact, (and) contribute more. We have the same proportion of non-combat fit soldiers, but (where) previously you can't use them in combat, now you can use them (in cyber defence). Bigger roles for NSmen One of the challenges the SAF is facing is Singapore's shifting demography. On top of falling birth rates, there is also an increasing number of marriages between Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans. This will lead to a growing population raised on diverse influences, said Dr Ng. Nonetheless, he was assured that the new generations of Full-time National Servicemen remained committed to defending the nation. He said: We've been able to maintain and integrate, and bring in each year new (Full-time) National Servicemen who identify with the needs, the ethos, the history of Singapore, and why we need a strong SAF. He said that, while there was no current need to extend the length of National Service or conscript women, the modern weapon systems would require NSmen to take on more responsibilities and higher positions of command. He highlighted the RSN's deployment of warships completely run by NSmen. The RSN currently has seven units that are staffed by NSmen, and this makes it one of the few navies in the world to deploy ships run fully by reservist forces. One of these warships that have an entire crew of naval NSmen is missile corvette RSS Vigilance. Dr Ng added that the SAF would continue to explore deploying NSmen in areas such as intelligence and unmanned systems. SAF50 celebrations Dr Ng highlighted some upcoming events in the ongoing celebrations to mark the SAF's Golden Jubilee this year. These include the SAF Day parade and dinner, which will be officiated by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong; and the SAF50@Istana event which will be graced by President Tony Tan Keng Yam. There is also an SAF50 book to commemorate the special occasion. The book, which will be launched by PM Lee on 24 Jul, contains more than 40 personal stories about the SAF, written by individuals from all walks of life. Dr Ng also paid tribute to founding leaders and pioneers who, having lived through Singapore's tumultuous times under the British rule and Japanese Occupation, understood the urgent need for a strong defence force. These bitter and painful lessons that they experienced first-hand etched in them a deep conviction that, when we need to, we must be able to defend ourselves, said Dr Ng. He added: Without the ability to defend ourselves, they learnt that you can only own what you can defend. If you can’t defend it, you don't own it. Others will sow what you reap; others will break down what you build. Thus, he believed that it was important for the SAF to celebrate its 50 years of growth: This SAF50 is to remind us how far we’ve come and because of that, how much further we can go. The aim … is to commemorate and celebrate, to recognise that there has been a long journey, but a very transformational one, a very successful one, he said.
30 Jun 2015, 1440 hours (GMT +8)
The past year has taken the men and women of the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF's) 144 Squadron (SQN) all around the world. From overseas operations such as Exercise Elang Indopura in Indonesia to Exercise Cope Tiger in Thailand, to local showings such as in Top Ace Challenge 2015, the squadron lived by their motto of Dare to excel, upholding their high standards. This has led them to be crowned the Best Fighter Squadron of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Best Unit Competition (BUC) 2015. Operating the upgraded F-5S/T multi-role supersonic fighter, this is the fourth time that 144 SQN has clinched this award, with previous wins in 1995, 2005, and 2009. Held annually, the BUC recognises units which have excelled in the areas of combat readiness, operational proficiency, and administrative excellence. I attribute the win to the squadron's professionalism, said Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Tsai Hong Pin, Commanding Officer of 144 SQN. The people in the squadron made the difference. Everyone in the squadron understands, and performs their role professionally. He said the synergy allowed the squadron to excel and clinch the award. But it was not an easy win. Much hard work was put in to keep up with the high training tempo. Captain (CPT) Muhammad Iskandar, an operational pilot from 144 SQN recalls the tough training: We go through several exercises throughout the year, like Exercise Cope Tiger with the Royal Thai Air Force and the United States Air Force. We also train alongside the Indonesians in Exercise Elang Indopura. Those are two major exercises. On top of that, there are smaller exercises with the Americans, and with Five Power Defence Arrangements forces during Bersama Lima. CPT Iskandar started by first training to fly on his own, before progressing to lead a wingman, and then moving on to be a mission commander in Exercise Cope Tiger, where he was tasked to plan and lead a multi-national force. The experience was valuable in developing a fighter pilot, he said. Just as the men and women of 144 SQN are dedicated to maintaining high standards and operational readiness to defend Singapore's skies, so too, are the Operationally-Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) of RSS Vigilance ready to do the same. They are winners of the inaugural Best National Service Naval Unit award in the Republic of Singapore Navy. We are certainly very proud and honoured to be able to win this award, said LTC (NS) Kelvin Lim, Commanding Officer of the RSS Vigilance, a missile corvette. He is also chief of the social care division at the Agency for Integrated Care. He said: It is testament to all the efforts that my officers and men have put in over the last few years to (make) the ship an operationally-ready and fine ship. It is a great honour. He added that one of the key reasons for their success was the camaraderie among the ship's crew. Having a warship being manned entirely by a crew of NSmen came with its own set of unique challenges. As Coxswain ME2-2 (NS) Lawrence Lim, a network engineer at ST Engineering, explained: …Everybody has their own lives outside the ship - they have their own careers, their own concerns. LTC (NS) Lim agreed, but that did not affect the professionalism and competency of his crew, and their good working dynamics. He said his Coxswain looked after all the men and took care of all their personal matters - be it getting married or work problems - so that their training and morale would not be affected, and they could function effectively. For the 1st Commando Battalion (1 Cdo Bn), their 12th consecutive victory as the Best Combat Unit is largely due to the individual competency of the soldiers in the battalion which comprises largely Full-Time National Servicemen. I'm very happy to be able to secure (this) award, said LTC Alvin Tjioe, Commanding Officer of 1 Cdo Bn. I'm very proud of my unit and what they have achieved. It speaks volumes of what the soldiers have been through. Specialising in operations such as reconnaissance, airborne, and raids, the Commando's latest victory brings their record to an unprecedented 29 wins since the BUC was first held in 1969. Despite their impressive record, 1 Cdo Bn is not resting on its laurels, said LTC Tjioe: Although this is the 29th time that the Commandos have won this award, every time when we participate in this competition, it is a new batch of soldiers, (not) seasoned soldiers. He added: This competition is very important to us in the sense that it drives us to keep our combat skills sharp. Indeed, the soldiers of 1 Cdo Bn have worked hard to master their soldiering skills. They had previously fought in a wargame against their predecessors - NSmen who were doing their last In-camp Training. The NSmen were tough and experienced 'enemies' who put up a strong challenge for the unit. Detachment Commander, Lieutenant Hafizuddin Bin Mohdar said: Because they (the NSmen) had gone through the same journey, they could tell us what we did wrong and what we did right. A first-time winner this year is RSS Tenacious, which clinched the Best Fleet Unit award. This award comes in the wake of a busy year for the crew of RSS Tenacious, which has seen them taking part in numerous exercises and operations in multilateral and bilateral exercises. Notably, the frigate took part in a 103-day counter-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden from March to June last year. Its deployment to the Gulf of Aden was an eventful one, as Commanding Officer LTC Ho Jee Kien recalled: Two days before we were supposed to call at the port of Djibouti, a suicide bombing incident took place in a restaurant at the harbour. As a result, we were unable to enter the port. The crew of RSS Tenacious had to continue with the next sail cycle, which saw them spending 29 consecutive days out at sea, compared to the normal 12 to 15 days of sailing before docking to resupply. The tenacious crew overcame the difficulties, and on their watch, there was no successful pirate attack during the 103 days. Spending months away from home was not easy, but the crew was willing to make the sacrifice. Another unit which is no stranger to making sacrifices is the RSAF's 163 SQN. Winners of the Best Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) Unit award for the fourth consecutive year, 163 SQN is on round-the-clock standby, operating the I-Hawk (Improved Homing All the Way Killer) missile system, to provide medium-level air defence for Singapore. For everyone in the unit, and for myself, there is definitely a very deep sense of satisfaction, said LTC Joseph Peh, Commanding Officer of 163 SQN. We do 24/7 operations and our operations tempo is very high. For us to be able to clinch the Best GBAD Unit award for the fourth year in a row is really testament to the hard work and professionalism of the personnel in the squadron. The winning formula isn't anything special … it is the approach that the servicemen and women take, be it in training or in operations, that makes them stand out, and as a result of that, when we go into our assessments for the BUC, their professionalism and attitude really carry us through.
30 Jun 2015, 1200 hours (GMT +8)
More than 170 retailers have come forward this year to show their support for Singapore Armed Forces personnel, with special deals and exclusive promotions for SAF Day. Apart from familiar brand names such as the Soup Spoon, KFC and Harvey Norman, there are also more niche products and services. There is something for every SAF serviceman and woman. Operationally-Ready and Full-time National Servicemen will also get to enjoy these special offers. As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the SAF, it is not surprising that the number 50 features prominently in some of the special deals surrounding SAF Day, which falls on 1 Jul. For example, SAF personnel will get $50 cash credit when they open a savings account with CIMB Bank. Between 1 Jul and 31 Jul, SAF personnel will be entitled to a S$50 cash credit and a 0.8 percent interest per annum - one of the highest savings rates in Singapore - when they open a CIMB StarSaver checking or savings account with a minimum deposit of S$10,000, said Ms Coreen Kwan, head of retail banking. The bank is also offering sure-win lucky dips when soldiers open accounts at specific outlets, as well as attractive lucky draw prizes. While these rewards are in no way equitable to what SAF personnel have contributed to the nation, we hope that it will encourage them to save for their future, said Ms Kwan. Those with a taste for speed will appreciate Dream Drive’s offer of $50 off every supercar joyride in a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, Audi R8 Spyder or a Maserati GranTurismo. We participated last year, and wanted to do so again. It's just our way of telling SAF personnel to keep up their good work, said Ms Marilyn Teo, General Manager at Dream Drive Pte Ltd. The offer is only valid at its Suntec outlet. Hungry after the joyride? Eat at chic eatery Spruce, which is offering 50 percent off the second main course at its Phoenix Park outlet. Our offer is just a simple gesture to thank SAF personnel for contributing to our country, said Mr Danny Pang, Managing Director at Spruce. We know you all work very hard, so thank you! For the full list of SAF Day special deals, visithttp://mindef.sg/SAF50promo
28 Jun 2015, 1820 hours (GMT +8)
Colonel (COL) (Ret) Goh Lye Choon, 74, a pioneer armour officer, took part in the first mobile column at the National Day Parade (NDP) in 1969. Come 9 Aug, he will be leading the mobile column on Singapore's 50th birthday, in the first Leopard 2SG Main Battle Tank of the column. It is a privilege to come back, said COL (Ret) Goh. Recalling his experience in NDP 1969, he said: We had only one and a half months to prepare for it, unlike the six months that we have today. Things were much harder for the pioneers back then. COL (Ret) Goh shared on the difficulties that they faced, such as the lack of an area for rehearsals, and the tracks of the tanks damaged the road surface that they drove on. Fast forward to the present day, COL (Ret) Goh finds the situation markedly different, especially with regard to the servicemen and women of the mobile column with whom he is working. I have confidence in our National Servicemen, said COL (Ret) Goh. I believe that this generation is better trained than my generation, and they will do far better than we did….They have been taught the skills, and know how to apply these skills. This year's mobile column is a two-kilometre long convoy, involving more than 900 personnel, more than 170 vehicles and many months of preparation, according to Major (MAJ) Cai Dexian, Chairman Mobile Column. He said: It is a grand, formal, and precise display where we showcase our commitment to, and capabilities in, the defence of our country. That is an enduring theme of all mobile columns that we believe is consistent with this year's edition. Last featured in NDP 2010, the mobile column will display the advanced technological capabilities of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Police Force (SPF), and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). It will feature as Chapter 3 -Strength of the NDP 2015 Integrated Show. Comprising four distinct segments - Giving Strength to Our Nation, Strength in Action, Strength for Our Home, and From Strength to Strength - the mobile column will also feature multimedia videos on stories of the men and women who have operated these platforms in Singapore and on overseas missions. MAJ Cai explained: This year's mobile column will tell the story of the growth of Singapore's defence and security forces to become the strong, respected, and capable forces that they are today. The stories of these men and women from the SAF, SPF, and SCDF will be woven into the mobile column to recognise their sacrifices and contributions to our security. Alongside crowd favourites like the Leopard 2SG Main Battle Tank and Bionix II Infantry Fighting Vehicles, will be new SAF assets such as the Armoured Engineer Vehicle and Protected Response Vehicle from the Army, and a 40-tonne Specialised Marine Craft from the Republic of Singapore Navy. This is the first time that I've taken part in the parade and it is very exciting for me, said Lieutenant (LTA) Celestia Tan, commander of the Armoured Engineer Vehicle. We have been preparing for the parade since May. To bring the mobile column closer to more Singaporeans, a section of the mobile column will makeits way around the Marina Bay area, beginning with The Float@Marina Bay. It will then drive past the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Convention Centre, and the Marina Bay Financial Centre, before stopping at the Esplanade Bridge for the Pledge Moment at 8:15pm.
28 Jun 2015, 1040 hours (GMT +8)
You hear stories about sisters supporting their brothers through National Service. But what about a brother supporting his sister through military training? When Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps (SAFVC) Volunteer (Trainee) [SV(T)] Siti Khairunessa bte Abdul Kadir signed up for the role, her younger brother became her biggest cheerleader. We talked on the phone every night (while I was undergoing the two-week Basic Training) and he would tell me, 'It's OK, you can do it', she said of her Operationally-ready National Serviceman (NSman) brother, who is an infantry officer. He gives me advice because it's something he has gone through. He told me to take the training as it comes, do my best, and enjoy myself, she added. SV(T) Khairunessa, 30, revealed that joining the SAF also gave her a greater appreciation for what her brother had to go through to become an officer. Before this, I did not even know that he was an officer. But now, I know that it's something very significant. He inspires me to do so much more, not just in the military but in everything I pursue too,she said proudly. SV(T) Khairunessa was one of 226 SAFVC Volunteers (SVs) who were presented their service berets by Reviewing Officer, Commander SAFVC Colonel (COL) Mike Tan, at the Beret Presentation Parade on 27 Jun. Held at Maju Camp, the parade marked the conclusion of Basic Training for the SAFVC's inaugural cohort and is an important milestone for the corps, which began its recruitment on 13 Oct 2014. This year, a total of three intakes enlisted. The first and third intakes underwent the continuous two-week course from 24 Mar to 4 Apr, and 15 to 26 Jun respectively, while the second batch underwent the modular course over a series of weekends from 11 Apr to 14 Jun. Speaking after the parade, Guest-of-Honour Dr Mohamad Maliki bin Osman, Minister of State for Defence, said it was very heartening to see the level of enthusiasm (and) the passion that they had, to want to serve and support NS. It was very encouraging to see Singaporeans and PRs from all walks of life coming together. I was very proud to see each and every one of them singing the national anthem, and I think that shows the amount of pride and seriousness that they put into this whole effort of being a volunteer in the SAF, he said of the SVs. Like SV(T) Khairunessa, undergoing the training also gave SV(T) Philip Christian Paul Von Meyenburg newfound respect for SAF soldiers. He said: You may hear certain things (about the military) through movies or hearsay, but when you’re actually in it, you realise that it’s a bit more real: the sun is hotter, the field pack is heavier, and the reverberation of the SAR 21, stronger. I will look differently at the men and women in uniform, as well as NSmen, because they go through a lot of tough stuff (to become soldiers). The 37-year-old Switzerland-born Permanent Resident (PR), who will train to become an Auxiliary Security Trooper, has been living in Singapore for eight years and is married to a Singaporean. He expressed hope that his experience as an SV will deepen his friendships in Singapore. He said: A lot of my friends here are NSmen, and some are Regulars. Being able to talk to them, I also feel a lot closer to them. Support from the community Dr Maliki also thanked the families and employers of the SVs who had attended the parade, saying: Without the support of community members like the families, the volunteers themselves would not be able to perform their function as part of the Volunteer Corps. Everyone has a role to play in defence. SV(T) Khairunessa was one such SV who was especially grateful to have her employer’s support. Ms Elizabeth Cowle, General Manager of International Medical Clinic, was quick to give the registered nurse her blessings when she learnt of her desire to join the SAFVC. She even re-arranged her work schedule so that she could witness SV(T) Khairunessa’s Beret Presentation Parade. It's commendable that somebody wants to support their country and defend it. It's meaningful for her and she was really passionate about wanting to do this, said Ms Cowle, an expatriate from Australia. She added that SV(T) Khairunessa, who will be joining the Army as a Medical Nurse, had the full support of her colleagues and added: I'm very proud of her. I know it was very arduous, but she’s accomplished something really outstanding. Echoing Dr Maliki’s sentiments, SV(T) Chen Chang agreed that family support was essential in his completing the Basic Training. The 45-year-old Principal Member of Technical Staff from DSO National Laboratories, who came to Singapore from China in 1994 and became a citizen in 2001, underwent the modular training, which took up most of his weekends. He expressed his appreciation for his wife and son for standing by him. It affected my time with my family, but my wife and son supported me all the way without a single complaint. They encouraged me, especially my son, who would do PT (physical training) together with me, he said, adding that he hoped to be a role model for his 15-year-old son when he enters NS. As an Auxiliary Security Trooper, he is looking forward to working with NSmen as well. He said: My colleagues have all gone through NS and ICT (in-camp training). They always have interesting stories to share with me. Now I will be able to experience it too. It makes me feel closer to not just my colleagues, but all the Singaporeans that I know. Like SV(T) Chen, SV(T) Ramakrishna Maruvada also hopes to set a good example for his sons when it is their time to serve NS. I have three boys (a six-year-old and twins aged four), and I thought that I should experience what they would be undergoing when they turn 18. Now we will have some shared experiences to talk about, as well as my own challenges (in training), said the 40-year-old from India, who became a Singapore citizen last year. The Director of Daiwa Capital Markets Singapore, who will be joining the Air Force as a Command Control, Communications and Computers (C4) Expert, expressed his admiration for his commanders and trainers. I learnt about leadership by example when I witnessed COL Tan doing the Battle Inoculation Course before us. He would also come into the camp late on a Sunday and at odd hours. The trainers would also eat after all the trainees had eaten, and wake up before we did. The leadership comes right from the top, he explained. He was also grateful to Sergeant Major Senior Warrant Officer Ho Kian Lee for his words of encouragement: He told us we had come (to the SAFVC) on our own volition, but we needed the discipline to get through it. Whenever I found the training quite hard, I would remind myself of that, and find the discipline to get through it. His passion to teach is unrivalled.
26 Jun 2015, 2145 hours (GMT +8)
Come July, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will have its first female one-star general. Colonel (COL) Gan Siow Huang, the current Head of Joint Manpower, will be promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General. She is among the 413 officers, 74 military experts and 34 warrant officers from the Army, Navy and Air Force to be promoted to the next higher rank this year. The Air Force officer received her certificate of promotion from Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen in a ceremony held at the Ministry of Defence on 26 Jun. All promotions will take effect from 1 Jul. The mother of three girls, aged 3, 8, and 12, felt that her promotion showed that women could have a successful military career. Hard work, as well as good performance, also allows women to be promoted up the ranks, just like our male counterparts, said the 40-year-old who was among the first four women to receive the SAF Merit Scholarship in 1993. I hope that my promotion will encourage more women in Singapore to join the SAF. And hopefully, in the time to come, we will see more female leaders in the SAF, she added. One of her toughest challenges in her career came during her tenure as Commanding Officer (CO) of 203 Squadron, when she was expecting her second child. The unit was a 24/7 outfit, responsible for the surveillance of Singapore skies. I was a little worried. As a CO, I was in charge of the whole mission for the squadron, she recalled. But with some planning and arrangements made before hand, certain obstacles could be overcome. It is quite a tough journey, but I am fortunate to have a very supportive family,…supportive colleagues, bosses, and peers, she added. Her parents-in-law, who are retirees and cancer survivors, help to take care of her children during the day. It also helps that her husband, an ex-Navy regular, understands the nature of her work. While family and peer support is important, COL Gan said servicewomen have to prove their capabilities. On normal working days, I would have to pull my weight, show that I am competent, I have the ability to lead, she explained. When asked if she feels the pressure of carrying the weight of the aspirations of all SAF servicewomen, she said: Somewhat,…but I try not to let that affect me. I think the most important thing is put in my best, and live up to the tasks that are given to me. The SAF promotion exercise is part of an ongoing effort to recognise and groom officers, military experts and warrant officers who perform well and demonstrate potential to contribute further to the SAF. For Military Expert 7 (ME7) Francis Cheong, his promotion to ME8 - the pinnacle rank in the Military Domain Experts Scheme (MDES) - is a recognition of the contributions of military experts in the SAF. The MDES is a relatively new career scheme introduced only in 2010, to groom experts in areas such as engineering, nursing, and intelligence. Even though ME7 Cheong was an engineer by training, he was entrusted to command an air base, an appointment normally held by combat officers. I was the first engineer to take on such an appointment, and the exposure that I had was very enriching and fulfilling, said the 45-year-old Head of Air Engineering and Logistics. The operational experience that I gained certainly helped me to prepare for my current appointment. Major (MAJ) Mohamed Feroz Bin Mohamed Akber, 34, too, has a varied career with the SAF, including an 18-month stint as an officer cadet instructor in New Zealand. It was an eye-opener, being alone overseas to train foreign cadets, said the 34-year-old infantry officer who also attended the Command and Staff course in the United States. But his most meaningful moment in the SAF thus far was helping to plan the state funeral of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding prime minister. A career soldier at heart, he plans to stay with the SAF till the retirement age of 50, and even continue to serve as a volunteer thereafter. The primary reason I signed on with the SAF was really to be involved with the defence of Singapore, said MAJ Feroz, who will be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Overseas ops Among the promotees are servicemen who have taken part in overseas operations. One of them is Navy Fleet Commander COL Lew Chuen Hong who was deployed to the North Arabian Gulf to contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq. Our role in the early years was largely maritime security, but over time, we have stretched our legs, we have gone round the world, said the 39-year-old, who will be promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral (One-Star). This was, in fact, what he signed up for when he joined the Navy more than 20 years ago. If anything, it's even more exciting now, he said, adding that when he first joined the Navy, he trained on coastal patrol craft, but the Navy of today has modern assets like frigates, submarines and even helicopters. For Senior Warrant Officer (SWO) Choong Keng On, he was deployed to Afghanistan for over nine months from 2010 to 2011. A detachment Sergeant-Major, he operated the weapon-locating radar to provide early warning of rocket attacks. I got to experience what it feels like in a real operation, said the 51-year-old who will be promoted to the pinnacle rank of Chief Warrant Officer. He appreciates the opportunities given to him by the SAF, and wants to pay it forward by grooming the next generation of warrant officers and specialists. I will now focus on the people under me in my formation, to develop their core skills and competency, said the Commanding Officer of Artillery Vocation Training School. NSmen promoted Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) also received their certificates of promotion. One of them was Senior Lieutenant Colonel (SLTC) (NS) Ng Tian Chong, Commander of 26th Singapore Infantry Brigade, who will be promoted to the rank of Colonel. Despite having to juggle heavy family and work commitments, the father of five sees national defence as a priority. This stems from his experience working in Indonesia in 1998, where he witnessed riots and political upheaval when the then-President Suharto was forced to step down. Said the 50-year-old managing director with Hewlett Packard: It strengthened my belief that we don't take things for granted, and we really have to protect what we have here in Singapore.
25 Jun 2015, 2200 hours (GMT +8)
It's not surprising to find three soldiers in a family. But what if one of them is a girl? Military Expert 1 Trainee (ME 1T) Esther Yeo is the only girl in a family of boys, but forging a career in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) had always been her dream. I've wanted to join the military since I was young. I see this as a challenge, and I'm pushing myself to achieve a higher standard, said the sporty 23-year-old, who plays an impressive variety of sports ranging from soccer to volleyball and badminton. My Dad is especially supportive, as he knows I'm the sporty kind and the training wouldn't be a problem for me. Having an Operationally-ready National Serviceman (NSman) elder brother is also helpful. He gave me tips and taught me to pack my 10-pack items and lay them out in order on the ground sheet, the ammunition specialist said of her 26-year-old brother, who is in 41st Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment. With a sister who is a Silver Bayonet recipient, the pressure is now on her younger brother, who will be enlisting soon. He wants to keep up to my standard, so he has been running more to stay fit, she explained modestly. ME1T Yeo was one of 1,003 Specialist Cadets (SCTs) who received their 3rd Sergeant epaulettes at the 23rd Specialist Cadet Graduation Parade on 24 Jun, at Pasir Laba Camp. The parade marked the end of a gruelling 22-week Specialist Cadet Course (SCC), during which the SCTs from the Army, Navy and Air Force underwent rigorous and realistic training to prepare them as leaders in the SAF. Reviewing Officer Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State for Law and Education, congratulated the SCTs on their graduation. Reminding them that people were the SAF's most valuable assets, she extolled them to take their new responsibilities seriously. The strength of the SAF lies not in its military hardware, but in the continued competence, commitment and fighting spirit of its people, she told the graduands, in the presence of their families and friends. Train your soldiers well, train them hard, and help them achieve the standards that you set for them. Maximise their strengths, unlock their potential and motivate them to give their best. Help your men understand and internalise the importance of NS. Lead by example and with conviction, empathise with your fellow soldiers, and engage them sincerely - be their friend, their guide and their mentor. Being given the opportunity to lead was the reason SCT Yong Heng Soon decided to become a specialist. At 35, he had spent 16 years as an infantry enlistee before working his way up. He was awarded the Golden Bayonet for his outstanding performance in the SCC. When I came to the SCC, I already knew most of the things (about the Army). But it's still a learning process because I started out as an enlistee and now I’m a sergeant. I can understand the challenges my sergeants faced (when leading their men), said the infantry specialist. Being the oldest SCT in his cohort, he had many life experiences to share with his fellow course mates. However, he admitted that he, too, was learning from them: Training with them is also beneficial to me because when I train younger soldiers in future, I will know how to manage them. As for SCT Mohammad Hafeez bin Mohammad Rafik, the SCC was a journey of self-discovery. He said: Going through the SCS, I saw that I had the personality and charisma to be a leader, and I felt that this was what I wanted to do. Currently a full-time National Serviceman, the 21-year-old infantry specialist is planning to sign on as a Regular. I want to join the force and make a difference to the lives of people around me, he added. The Silver Bayonet recipient was also grateful to his parents for their support through the five-and-a-half-month course. They told me: 'Don’t give up, it's just a little bit more. Go for it.'. They also had a special catchphrase for SCT Hafeez: Believe to achieve, which he held fast to throughout his course. Family support was also an essential component in SCT Sashindran s/o Rajendran's journey to becoming a specialist and a Regular in the Air Force. After completing his NS, he worked as an aircraft component technician for about a year before deciding to return to the SAF. My parents told me that if I could endure the training during NS, I could definitely do it better this second time around, he explained. He was also awarded the Golden Bayonet. The 24-year-old Air Defence Systems specialist had another reason for choosing to join the SAF. After working outside, I realised that this is where I belong. Also, reading in the news about potential threats, I (want to) contribute to the nation by coming back and being a part of the Air Force, he said.
25 Jun 2015, 1515 hours (GMT +8)
When someone has worked in the same organisation for over two decades, it says something good about the organisation. Ms Vilasini D/o Sethuram, who has been with the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) for the past 23 years, said: I like how the organisation is forward-looking and always trying to improve. The 42-year-old is the Chief Admin Supervisor in Air Plans Department, Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF). When she joined MINDEF, administrative staff worked on hard-copy documents and had to physically send the documents out to units and departments. Now, we have many computerised systems. Everything moves faster and is more efficient, she said. I also enjoy working with my colleagues. Many of them, especially the young NSFs (Full-time National Servicemen), have many good ideas to improve our work processes. said Ms Vilasini, who heads small team comprising both civilian officers and NSFs. She was one of the 417 civilian and defence executive officers promoted on 24 Jun, at a ceremony in MINDEF. They received their certificates of promotion from Permanent Secretary (Defence) Chan Yeng Kit and Permanent Secretary (Defence Development) Major-General (MG) (NS) Ng Chee Khern. Newer officers spoke about how their promotion would spur them on to assume bigger responsibilities. Said Mr Bernard Huang: While I'm happy to be promoted, the pressure is there to perform better! The 28-year-old is a Staff Officer in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Transport Command. Part of his job is to make sure that operational units have the vehicles they need to carry out their missions. He also takes care of road clearances for some of the SAF's fleet of heavy vehicles, and has been very busy recently with preparations for the National Day Parade. In MINDEF and the SAF, you work hard, but ultimately you are recognised for the work you do, said Mr Huang. For Mr Tony Chong, 37, it is the freedom to explore innovative solutions that he enjoys. My bosses have always given me the space to try out new ideas. It allows me to develop as an IT professional. He heads the Corporate IT section in the Naval Operations Department, Republic of Singapore Navy, and is also involved in cyber defence work in the SAF. The Navy is also pro-family, which makes it easier to juggle work and family. But of course, when duty calls, we have to be there to do our job, said Mr Chong. Another promotee, Ms Chng Lay Theng, 35, felt that the promotion came with bigger responsibilities. While the recognition is there, it's not just about the rewards; part of the promotion carries the expectation to do more for the organisation, said Ms Chng, an Assistant Director with the Manpower Policy Department. She added: One aspect of my job which I enjoy is mentoring my junior colleagues. After all, we also need to make sure that there are capable people who can succeed us!
22 Jun 2015, 2130 hours (GMT +8)
There is this saying: It's not over till the fat lady sings. That colloquialism rang true for the four-student team from Anderson Junior College taking part in this year's Cyber Defenders Discovery Camp (CDDC). In a last-minute reversal in strategy from defence to attack, they took down the only remaining team in the competition to claw up to pole position. We used the vulnerability that the other team used to take down all the others,' explained Bryan Lim, 18, one of the team members. The only reason the earlier attack didn't take us down, like the rest, was because we were good at defending and could withstand it better, said team-mate Han Jin, 19. The team chose to spring their surprise counter-attack on the opponent in the last minutes of the competition. We spent 12-hours every day going through the tutorials because we really wanted to win. It was intense! said team member Zachary Teo, 18. The team won in the Junior College/Integrated Programme category and also clinched the Best Defender award for their exceptional ability in defending their systems. They were among the 323 students from 22 schools taking part in the three-day CDDC. Split into 81 teams, the students spent five hours locked in competition to uncover weaknesses in other teams'IT systems and put in counter-measures to defend their systems from attacks. Speaking at the CDDC awards ceremony held at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman said: Actions in cyberspace and other non-conventional areas can be employed to undermine a country and bring it down. (Therefore), we need the best cyber defence engineers to keep Singapore safe against future cyber threats… the best talents to keep our cyberspace safe 24/7. In the Universities/Polytechnic category, a team called Smuntunus emerged champions. The team members come from the Singapore Management University (SMU), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) - hence their team name. They met during an internship programme at the DSO National Laboratories. The camp was good. We learnt a lot from the instructors, and the environment was great for learning, said Ho Wei Xiong, 25, from NUS. I think the most important thing that enabled us to win was that we were good at defence, said Lim Anyu. The 25-year-old is from SMU. The CDDC is organised by the Defence Science and Technology Agency, with support from the Future Systems and Technology Directorate of the Ministry of Defence. It aims to inspire interest in cyber defence and uncover the brightest minds for Singapore's future cyber defenders. For more information, visit www.dsta.gov.sg/cddc.
21 Jun 2015, 2330 hours (GMT +8)
It was a fun-filled day for the whole family at SAFRA Jurong. In celebration of Father's Day on 21 Jun, SAFRA held the sixth edition of its SAFRA Sprint Kids, an annual race event that aims to strengthen the bonds among Operationally-ready National Servicemen (NSmen) and their families. This year, to commemorate the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)'s golden jubilee and celebrate the role of fathers as defenders of the home and nation, SAFRA introduced a special SAF50 edition called the SAFRA Sprint Kids Xtreme. Kids aged six to 12 took part in an obstacle course that was inspired by the SAF's Standard Obstacle Course (SOC). Participants had to overcome obstacles such as navigating over stepping stones made out of tyres, leopard crawling through a tunnel before making a final leap into a ball-pit ditch. Many NSmen fathers took the opportunity to share their own SOC experiences with their children who were participating in the race. Said Lance Corporal (LCP) (NS) Shahril bin Samad, whose son, Nur Irfan bin Shahril was first runner-up in the Corporal's Sprint (for boys aged eight to nine): The obstacles are different from the ones I used to go through. But I managed to share some tips with him, for example, how to do the sideway walk (for dodging the panels). It's a good experience for him when he enters NS in future. For the first time, families could also take part in the Platoon's Challenge, a relay race for families of four. 3rd Sergeant (3SG) (NS) Samuel Yee, who took home the gold with his family, found the event very meaningful. He said: We've been wanting to find an opportunity for family bonding, since we are always busy with work and studies, and this is the best time for the family to get together. It's also very meaningful as it coincides with Father's Day. Dr Mohamad Maliki bin Osman, Minister of State for Defence and Deputy President of SAFRA, presented the race winners with their medals and trophies. He was later joined by NSmen and their families in blowing out the candles on a special Father's Day cake. Children also received cupcakes to give to their fathers. Wishing all fathers a happy Father's Day, Dr Maliki acknowledged the multitude of important roles that fathers in Singapore play. Many of our NSmen are fathers themselves. They have to juggle many responsibilities, caring and providing for their families and children, being role models to their children and employees. They also have to juggle their commitment to their NS duties. These are challenges that our NSmen as fathers face. They do this because they want to ensure a secure and bright future for their families, he said. He added: Events of this nature give us time to reflect that we do appreciate every father out there, we appreciate every NSman out there who is a father, and who wants to raise their children in a secure environment, and continues to perform duties to utmost best. SAFRA deals for SAF Day Dr Maliki took the opportunity to announce the SAFRA deals that would be rolled out to commemorate SAF Day on 1 Jul. The deals are extended to all SAF NSmen, and they will be able to enjoy the promotions by presenting their 11B cards. On top of promotions from selected retailers, NSmen will also be able to enjoy deals such as free entry to SAFRA swimming pools, 50 percent discounts at SAFRA facilities, and special movie deals at Shaw Theatres. More information can be found at www.safra.sg/safday.
18 Jun 2015, 1800 hours (GMT +8)
Fifty aircraft - the largest number to take part in the National Day Parade (NDP) at the Padang - will feature in the Air Participation segment, to commemorate Singapore's achievements in the past 50 years, while calling on all Singaporeans to look towards a bright future together. The aircraft will perform a spectacular aerial display which showcases the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)’s precision flying and aerial finesse. Chairman of the Air Participation Committee Colonel (COL) Francis Ngooi said: In celebration of our nation's Golden Jubilee, we hope to make this year's NDP memorable and special for Singaporeans. The Air Participation segment of NDP will kick off with the Five Stars Tribute Aerial Flypast to remember the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Executed by the RSAF Black Knights during the Prologue of the NDP 2015 Show, it signifies Singapore’s five ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice, and equality. Following the tribute will be the traditional flypast of the State Flag across the Padang as the National Anthem is sung. It will be staged by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, escorted by two AH-64D Apache helicopters. Twenty F-16s will then perform a Salute-to-Nation, flying a 50 formation, while the six Black Knights perform an aerial bomb-burst. COL Ngooi said: “While viewing the '50' formation, we hope Singaporeans will be reminded of our progress over the past 50 years, and be inspired to work towards the future with the same pioneering spirit. Following this is an aerial flypast by pairs of S-70B naval helicopters, AS-332 Super Pumas, AH-64D Apaches and CH-47 Chinooks, in an Arrowhead formation. A C-130 transport aircraft and two Fokker 50 Maritime Patrol aircraft will execute the VIC formation, with the C-130 as lead aircraft in front, and the other aircraft to the left and right, together forming the letter V. They will be followed by a KC-135 tanker aircraft and a G550-Airborne Early Warning aircraft, escorted by four F-5 fighter aircraft, flying in close formation. Four Black Knights will then perform the Criss Cross manoeuvre with smoke trails, followed by two Black Knights executing a near-vertical climb. Thereafter, a solo F-15SG fighter aircraft will execute a combat turn over the Padang, showcasing the aircraft’s precision and agility, culminating its performance with a near-vertical climb, with afterburners. For the finale, three F-15SGs will execute a Flat Burst manoeuvre as they make their exit.
18 Jun 2015, 0930 hours (GMT +8)
Nope, that is not a typo. Samily is the name of Sally Ong Wee Xian and husband Melvin Tay's eight-month-old daughter. Her name means Sally and Melvin I love you, explained Ms Ong. Right now everything I do centres around her, but I enjoy looking after Samily! The 27-year-old, who handles Human Resource matters in Air Defence and Operations Command, returned to work in February this year. I enjoy my work because it lets me learn about how the organisation works. She joined the Ministry of Defence in 2012 after graduating from Polytechnic. Part of her work involves assisting her bosses when they are filing appraisal reports. Although she now has new responsibilities at home, some things have not changed: her love of new experiences and travelling. She tries to visit a new country each year, and has gone to Turkey, Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom. Her wanderlust has worked out well, as she met the love of her life during a diving trip in 2013. It was my first time diving and he was my instructor. I fell for him because he was very humorous! After dating for six months, the couple tied the knot and had Samily later in 2014.