576 SAF personnel promoted

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28jun18_news2
28 Jun 2018 | MILESTONES

576 SAF personnel promoted

// REPORT by Thrina Tham

// PHOTOS by Chua Soon Lye

English Melayu

The recent Trump-Kim Summit, held on 12 Jun, saw security being stepped up around Singapore.

Commanding the Air Defence Task Force during that period was Colonel (COL) Gaurav Keerthi, 39. He was in charge of the assets deployed to detect and respond to airborne threats.

Being activated at short notice is nothing new to COL Gaurav – he led the Republic of Singapore Air Force's response to the bomb hoax on a Scoot flight in April. Early in his career, he was one of the Chinook pilots involved in the search and rescue efforts in the wake of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami which devastated Aceh, Indonesia.

"We have to remain vigilant 24/7. Our operators are constantly on their toes and our processes are all geared up to make sure they will be able to respond to any form of threat," said COL Gaurav, who is Commander Air Defence and Operations Command. 

COL Gaurav was one of the 576 personnel from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) recognised in a promotion ceremony held at the Ministry of Defence on 28 Jun. He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General.

At the event officiated by Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen, certificates of promotion were presented to the 461 Officers, 75 Military Experts, and 40 Warrant Officers (WOs) promoted to the next higher rank. 

Among those promoted were Chief of Defence Force Major-General (MG) Melvyn Ong, who was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General. 

Senior Warrant Officer Jennifer Tan, who commands the Advanced Combat Training Centre, Armour Training Institute, will become the SAF's first female Chief Warrant Officer when the promotion takes effect on 1 Jul.

This year also saw a record 61 senior Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) being promoted. 

Among them is Commander 27th Singapore Infantry Brigade (27 SIB) SLTC (NS) Tan Yeow Tiong who said that National Service (NS) has given him opportunities to build his leadership skills.

"My men come from different backgrounds and face different challenges. Managing these issues has provided me with valuable experience which I can apply in my job," said the Assistant Vice President, Technical Services at in-flight catering service provider SATS Ltd, where he manages a team of 100 staff. 

The 46-year-old added that it was the "band-of-brothers' spirit" that has kept him serving for the past 20 years.

Recalling a 2016 exercise that 27 SIB participated in, SLTC (NS) Tan said: "We had to go on 12-hour shifts (during the exercise) and it was very encouraging to see everyone doing more so that their teammates can rest – the tough exercise brought the team together."

Fellow NSman LTC (NS) Shaw Swee Tat, 48, said having a wife who was a Defence Executive Officer helped, as she understood the demands of his NS commitments.

"The challenge of taking on additional NS duties is always about having the time to fulfill (them). This is especially so in leadership roles where we do not want to let our men down," said the Brigade 2nd-in-charge of Headquarters 21 SIB.

"I am very thankful to have a supportive wife, who manages our family of three young kids in my absence," said LTC (NS) Shaw, who is also the Principal of Ang Mo Kio Secondary School. He was promoted to the rank of Senior Lieutenant Colonel.

These sentiments were echoed by 1st Warrant Officer (NS) Edwin Tan, who was promoted to the rank of Master Warrant Officer. He credits his wife's support and sacrifice in taking care of the family, so that he is able to focus on his NS duties.

The Brigade Sergeant Major of HQ 29 SIB added: "I have no choice but to serve, but I have a choice to make it meaningful. With that thought, I was willing to learn, serve, do – and encourage my peers to do so too. 

"I want to influence the other NSmen around me so they come in to serve willingly. It's a choice that we can make."

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