Our Air Force servicemen and women are not limited by local airspace. Our people get to interact and learn from their foreign counterparts, immersing and enriching themselves in diverse cultures around the world. This not only strengthens their understanding and cooperation, but also allows us to benefit from their long Air Force histories and experiences. Australia, North America and Europe play host to our long-term detachment programmes.
ME2 Tan Yian YianAir Force Engineer (Maintenance) [AFE(M)] Arizona, United States of America
ME2 Tan Yian Yian is an AFE(M), responsible for overseeing the maintenance of advanced fighter aircraft in the RSAF.
In March 2008, ME2 Tan was posted to Arizona, USA to be part of the RSAF Peace Carvin II Detachment. As the Team IC on her shift, she led a team of 3 to 4 AFE(M)s in maintaining the communication and navigation systems on board the F-16C/D fighter jets.
Working under different conditions than what she had been accustomed to in Singapore, ME2 Tan shared that it took some effort to adapt to her new environment. "I needed to adapt quickly and settle in fast to my new working conditions," she said, "it wasn’t easy, but I did come away being more knowledgeable about the F-16C/D’s systems."
Her experience at Peace Carvin II also taught ME2 Tan the value of teamwork. "Our main mission at Peace Carvin II was to generate enough aircraft to meet our training requirements. In order to achieve this, each and every one of us has to play a part, and coordinate with each other very closely," she said. "Working so closely together, I learnt the importance of team dynamics and how it affected my team’s effectiveness."
Far away from home and living with her adoptive family of Air Force Engineers, ME2 Tan shared that although she was many miles from Singapore, she did not miss home at all. "I enjoyed the opportunity to travel and see the USA, to gain new experiences and to expose myself to new things," she said.
When queried about how her family felt about her being overseas, ME2 Tan reveals that her family did not worry too much about her as she is a very independent person. Far from being all work and no play, she even found time to bring her mother to the USA. "She came over to join me on a short holiday," she shared, "she enjoyed herself thoroughly."
CPT Yang WeiliangWeapon Systems Officer (Fighter) [WSO(Ftr)] Florida, United States of America
CPT Yang Weiliang is a WSO(Ftr) in the Republic of Singapore Air Force. As a WSO(Ftr), tackling complex operational and management roles is second nature. This is because CPT Yang is tasked with the important role of mission planning and operating the weapons systems on board our advanced fighter aircraft. Many of the skills that he now employs on a daily basis were picked up during his overseas training in Florida, USA.
While on training, CPT Yang was the Course IC, and was responsible for overseeing the discipline, welfare and training of the course participants. "I always kept in mind that I was a representative of the RSAF in a foreign country and made sure I excelled in my training as well as my various responsibilities," he says.
CPT Yang has many good memories of his training in Florida. The most memorable of these was his final flight, where he was responsible for leading a flight of four aircraft.
Recounting one of his proudest times, CPT Yang says, "I remember the moment when I landed and saw all the Singaporean trainees and some of our American counterparts waiting to congratulate me on earning my wings."
Some of the other highlights of CPT Yang’s posting included attending the wings presentation ceremonies of his seniors, and flying to other states in the USA for detachments and cross-country flights.
Work aside, CPT Yang also found time to interact with his fellow trainees over the occasional steamboat dinner and even to celebrate Chinese New Year.
CPT Yang’s learning journey in the USA did not stop at acquiring military skills; even interacting with his American peers was a new experience. Although they had no trouble recognising his leadership abilities, they did have a little trouble understanding his accent initially. "We had to speak really slowly and deliberately to be understood," says CPT Yang, "almost as if we were reciting essays in English class."
He also found himself learning how to cope with being alone in a foreign land. "Being in a different time zone from my friends and family, it was difficult to find time to keep in contact with them without sacrificing my resting hours," says CPT Yang. "But my family put in extra effort to keep in touch with me from across the globe, and that helped me keep them close and focus on my training."
Besides these, CPT Yang also managed to pick up many important lessons during his time overseas, such as learning to be more independent and sharpening his social skills. "You have to adapt more readily to things outside your comfort zone," he says. Being overseas has also made CPT Yang better appreciate Singapore’s accessible public transportation system, as well as its multi-cultural society.
When asked about which lesson he felt was the most important, CPT Yang says, "Perseverance. When you carry something through till the end, anything is possible."