Kopitalk with CO, 9 SIR

Kopitalk with CO, 9 SIR

Partnering with 8th Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment (8 SIR) in ensuring the security of Civilian and Military Installations, as well as Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) camps and bases, 9th Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment (9 SIR) soldiers are trained to protect and secure key installations such as Changi Airport, Sembawang Wharves and Jurong Island. They are also currently in the midst of assuming responsibility for camp security in the West. In this issue of Kopitalk, we spoke to Commanding Officer (CO) 9 SIR to find out what it is like to lead the unit and what motivated him to sign on with the Army.

What is a typical day as CO 9 SIR like? 

Typically, my day starts with physical training in the morning which I use to engage different groups of commanders and understand their concerns. As my troopers are on duty in different guardrooms and Key Installations (KINs), I visit them to understand the issues they are facing and provide command emphasis. Whenever there is a need to, I meet up with my staff to plan and coordinate for the next tranche of key activities. 

How has your experience as CO been so far?

It has been fulfilling so far. One of the things I immensely enjoy is engaging with my soldiers, understanding how I can make things better for them; and ensuring that they understand the importance of what we do.

CO 9 SIR, MAJ Shaun Michael engaging his troopers.

CO, 9 SIR, MAJ Shaun Michael engaging his troopers.

One of the greatest challenges I have is that the unit is decentralised; both geographically and in terms of Command and Control (C2). We do not have the opportunity to bond as one unit very often. Cultivating unit identity and culture especially when the soldiers have such a limited time in the unit is also a challenge. Engagement, therefore, becomes extremely vital.

What are some values that you believe in as a leader?

The first is leadership by example - walking the talk and being there with the soldiers. If you want your soldiers to do something, you have to role model that particular behaviour, and if you want soldiers to act a certain way, you have to ensure that as a commander you do it too. 

Secondly, leadership through engagement. I believe in the need to engage my soldiers, and ensure they understand their purpose, ensure I understand their concerns and provide them with platforms to develop as individuals and as a team.

Lastly, leadership with empathy. Every soldier should be afforded individualised consideration as everyone has different circumstances. You need to understand what these circumstances are and how you can then best lead the soldier, manage his concerns and help him fulfil his potential. 

MAJ Shaun Michael (right) thanking his security troopers during the Military Police and Security Troopers Recognition Day.

MAJ Shaun Michael (right) thanking his security troopers during the Military Police and Security Troopers Recognition Day.

What led you to sign on?

I wanted to do something meaningful, contribute to our society and make a difference. The fact that the SAF is a values-based organisation really appealed to me. It is about defending your country and taking care of the man next to you. And to me, my country represents my friends, family, loved one and our way of life. I'm very happy to say that on a day-to-day basis, what I do contributes to their defence.

What do you usually do during your free time? 

I spend time with my daughter, wife, our family and friends. We try to go to various attractions in Singapore to give our daughter new experiences. We recently went to the Hay Dairies Goat Farm and my daughter really enjoyed feeding the goats. Personally, I enjoy reading, cycling and going for runs.

Any words that you want to say to your family?

Having my family's support allows me to work hard and continue protecting our home, our way of life and our future. So, I would like to thank my wife and daughter for supporting me and accommodating my work schedule even over the weekends and public holidays. 

Written by: LCP Stanley Ong (Army News)
Photography by: CPL Jakob Carlo Dass (Army News), with contribution from unit