Being the first in the family to enter command school is always a proud moment. For 3rd Sergeant (3SG) Mohamed Iqbal Bin Abdul Hamid, this accomplishment was made even more significant as he was the first of six boys to do so.
3SG Iqbal humbly credited his success to his five elder brothers, three of whom were from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). The other two served their National Service (NS) with the Singapore Police Force.
"I could not have done this without my brothers. After I enlisted, they kept on giving me tips and advice on how (I was) to get through NS – especially mentally preparing me before my outfield," he said.
Going through Specialist Cadet School (SCS) has brought out a different side of the formerly shy and reserved Silver Bayonet recipient. 3SG Iqbal admitted that he keeps to himself at home and whenever he shared stories of his training with his family, they would be surprised that he could take up leadership appointments.
Besides learning to lead, the 21-year-old also learnt to motivate and empathise with others during his time in SCS. For instance, during long-distance runs, instead of going for personal glory like getting a good timing, he would slow down and pace his friends who were slower, to motivate and push them so that they could also complete it.
3SG Iqbal, who will be taking on the role of a Section Commander in 1st Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment, also hopes to use to the same method of encouragement when it comes to leading his troopers in the future.
"Sometimes a verbal encouragement, or just a simple pat on the back telling them that they did a good job is more than enough to motivate them."
3SG Iqbal was among the 1,038 cadets who graduated as specialists of the SAF at Pasir Laba Camp on 24 May. Of the graduands, 903 were from the Army, 62 from the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and 78 from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).
During his address as the reviewing officer, Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How urged the specialist cadets to always lead by example, empathise with the needs of their soldiers and inspire commitment through engaging with them.
"As our soldiers train hard and realistically to defend Singapore as leaders, remember to take care of your soldiers – your men will respect you if they see that you really care for them... The expectations placed on you will be significant, but trust the training that you have been given and always be guided by the SAF’s core values."
His words were not lost on 3SG Edwin Sim. The 21-year-old Golden Bayonet recipient strongly believes that a leader should always lead by example.
During his time in SCS, 3SG Sim learnt to work with different types of people and became a more confident leader. He would also include his peers in his decision-making processes so that they would feel involved.
"I believe a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. Great leaders are the ones who have the ability to empower others, so I often delegate my tasks to my peers so that they can understand the responsibilities they have as well," explained the Naval Warfare Systems Specialist with the RSN's 191 Squadron.
For fellow graduand 3SG S Murugananthan, learning how to communicate with his mates was one of his key takeaways from the course.
Working together with people from all walks of life, the 21-year-old realised that everyone learns and takes instructions differently. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses and being able to leverage on that helped them to accomplish tasks seamlessly and successfully as a team.
"Building trust among the team (members) is important. You have to trust your troopers just as they have to trust you."
The Silver Bayonet recipient looked forward to his new role as a Ground-Based Air Defence Specialist in the RSAF's 3rd Divisional Air Defence Artillery Battalion.
"Singapore is my home and people are depending on us. If we don't protect it or do our job at the right time, we will be vulnerable.
"It's a proud moment to be part of the defence of Singapore."