SAF Day Parade returns to SAFTI and he's leading it

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28 Jun 2021 | PEOPLE

SAF Day Parade returns to SAFTI and he's leading it

LTC Teo Wei Che has served as an Imagery Analyst in Afghanistan as well as in the SAF's Joint Intelligence Department. He is now the commander of a C4I battalion and also this year's SAF Day Parade Commander.

//Story Thrina Tham

//Photos Chua Soon Lye

English 华文

The sun is scorching. We are standing in the middle of a parade square on a hot afternoon.

Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Teo Wei Che has many things on his mind. As a battalion commander, he is overseeing multiple competency training sessions that his soldiers are going through, not to mention an infrastructure audit.

But right now, his focus is on the parade: nailing his commands and getting his drills down pat. Left – left, right.

The 37-year-old is the Parade Commander of this year's Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Day Parade.

Along with Parade Sergeant Major Master Warrant Officer Tan Soon Meng, he will lead the parade which returns to SAFTI Military Institute on 1 Jul. The annual parade was replaced by a ceremony last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the field to the parade

LTC Teo is the Commanding Officer of 16th Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence Battalion (16 C4I Bn). The unit is responsible for providing command and control abilities – through setting up networks and radio nets – to support 2nd Singapore Infantry Brigade.

It is also trained in reconnaissance and going beyond enemy lines to collect intelligence.

As part of his 18-year Army career, LTC Teo has served as an instructor in the Combat Intelligence Group and a senior analyst in General Staff, before heading the plans branch in the Joint Intelligence Department.

He was also deployed to Afghanistan in Operation Blue Ridge, as part of the SAF's contributions to international efforts in the fight against terror.

LTC Teo (front, centre) rehearsing his drills with the state and regimental colours during the first combined rehearsal of the SAF Day Parade.

We are at the first combined rehearsal, where he admits that his drill commands are not yet at their best.

The journey to the parade, however, has already been a rewarding one. The intensity of the training hit him the moment he visited the first component training session, sometime after being informed of his appointment this May.

"It was just the first session but the trainers were already telling the guys, 'Hey, you need to watch out for this. Watch out for that.'

"I could see the dedication and professionalism from both the trainers and participants," recalled LTC Teo, who will be commanding a parade for the first time.

That night, after getting home from camp, having dinner with his family and putting his kid to bed, he got right down to work.

"I immediately went to read through the form of the parade, the commands that needed to be memorised, and started to practise my own sword drills."

LTC Teo (far left) with the rest of the SAF Imagery Analysis Team 4 that served in Operation Blue Ridge. He was deployed there from June to November 2011. [Photo courtesy of LTC Teo]

Working hard to excel

LTC Teo's own SAF career has been quite a journey. During his Afghanistan deployment in 2011, he was part of the SAF's Imagery Analysis team, which worked with the Australian and United States Armed Forces to plan missions and provide critical information to the multinational forces there.

"Although we are a very small nation, the other armed forces could see the competency of our team from the analyses we provided.

"The missions they gave us became more complex as they trusted our assessments to support their soldiers on the ground. It was extremely rewarding," said LTC Teo.

He also cites taking command of 16 C4I Bn as one of his biggest privileges and responsibilities.

"The role is onerous but when the soldiers do what they are trained to, and when I see them smile at me even when they are tired, I know that I've done my job."

LTC Teo receiving the International Security Assistance Force medal from the Commander of the Combined Team-Uruzgan, upon completing his tour of duty. [Photo Credit: LTC Teo]

Most recently, the battalion adapted their training amid the pandemic, to complete their Army Training Evaluation Centre (ATEC) Stage 2 evaluation.

The milestone test was a culmination of almost two years of training, and involved coordinated missions executed over five days.

16 C4I Bn achieved a Readiness Condition (REDCON) grade of 2A – the second-highest possible grade and the highest grade for a C4I battalion so far.

"I'm really happy with how we did. We operated in a COVID-19-restricted environment and showed that despite COVID-19, the SAF can continue to train safely to achieve operational readiness," said LTC Teo.

A 16 C41 Bn soldier conducting a radio check in the field as part of the battalion's ATEC Stage 2 evaluation this May. They achieved a REDCON grade of 2A, the highest for a C4I Bn so far. [Photo courtesy of 16 C4I Bn]

A 24/7 force

Similarly, training has been undergoing for the SAF Day Parade, with strict safe management measures put in place.

Parade participants go through weekly swab tests, and there is no intermingling between participants from different marching contingents.

Personnel also don their masks at all times, even while marching in the parade.

On wearing his mask while giving commands, LTC Teo said: "I wouldn't say it's a challenge; we cope with it."

To LTC Teo, the parade is more than just an hour-long event, but a show of the SAF's ability to operate safely, amidst the pandemic.

LTC Teo (left) having a discussion with the 16 C4I Bn Regimental Sergeant Major at the command post during a platoon mission exercise this April. [Photo courtesy of 16 C4I Bn]

"The need to commemorate SAF Day remains as a reminder of our soldiers serving their respective duties 24/7," he said.

"When COVID-19 hit us last year, we formed a health surveillance task force; we did dormitory operations; we did not let it beat us down.

"Akin to that, the parade shows that we are able to continue our operations as we are doing day to day, rain or shine."

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