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31 Aug 2018 | PEOPLE

Team builder

// Story Chia Chong Jin

// Photos James Ng & Tan Yong Quan

English Melayu
Major (MAJ) (NS) Ben Lee has been with 707 Squadron (SQN) since its inauguration. Now, as the Deputy Commanding Officer (CO), he leads his men with confidence during In-Camp Training (ICT).

Major (MAJ) (NS) Ben Lee has been with 707 Squadron (SQN) since its inauguration. Now, as the Deputy Commanding Officer (CO), he leads his men with confidence during In-Camp Training (ICT).

It wasn't easy during the times when 707 SQN was still an infant unit. 

"Figuring out the training procedures for our men, developing operational capabilities such as how ground logistics crew should support real operations during wartime as well as peacetime - all of this had to be taken into consideration as the squadron was being set up."

Having been with 707 SQN since the start in 2010, MAJ (NS) Lee, then an Officer Commanding, played a vital role in helping to develop the new Air Base Sustainment squadron under Air Power Generation Command (APGC). He eventually rose to take on the role of Deputy CO in 2013. 

707 SQN was set up to operationalise the ground logistics in Paya Lebar Air Base (PLAB). In layman terms, they are in charge of the welfare of the squadrons that are in PLAB.

"For example, we are in charge of catering their food rations, as well as taking care of any health-related issues of the soldiers in PLAB."

"Being able to see how 707 SQN has grown in size and in strength, achieving awards such as Best Logistics Unit over the years - these are some of my most memorable experiences so far."

Soaring to greater heights

One of MAJ (NS) Lee's most memorable experiences in National Service (NS) is the APGC Eagle Challenge that took place in 2015, where he took charge of the training for the Equipment Delivery Team.

The Eagle Challenge is an annual inter-squadron competition held by APGC to test the communication skills of the squadrons, as well as their operational capabilities.

As the leader of the Equipment Delivery Team of 707 SQN, MAJ (NS) Lee is tasked to oversee the supplying of field equipment to multiple squadrons that are within PLAB.

"The Eagle Challenge produces that sense of realism to training, and it gives the men on the ground an opportunity to experience what would happen during an actual war scenario." 

"It creates an operational environment for the NSmen to train in. At the same time, there is a challenge component to create a healthy competition between the squadrons, to ensure that standards are well-maintained."

Over the course of two-week challenge, through the high standards that MAJ (NS) Lee maintained, the Equipment Delivery Team became much more proficient. However, being the humble man that he is, MAJ (NS) Lee does not take the credit for anything.

"Whenever I conduct AARs (After-Action Reviews), everyone in the team will contribute pointers to sieve out the areas they thought could be improved on. The effort put in by everyone allowed us to succeed together, and it is not just an individual effort."

During the Eagle Challenge, MAJ (NS) Lee would often be the first to arrive each day to ensure that all logistical and training materials are ready for the day. At the end of each day, he would then conduct an AAR to ensure that all team members understand the learning objectives.

"MAJ (NS) Lee truly deserves the NS Excellence Award," said Military Expert 5 Chong Leong Hin, CO of 707 SQN. 

"He is very responsible and pro-active during his ICTs. Instead of waiting for things to happen, he will take the initiative to lead his men in training and in exercises." 

He added: "MAJ (NS) Lee will objectively voice his opinions on issues faced by our squadron with the intention of improving the quality of the squadron."

As a result of MAJ (NS) Lee's critiques, training and guidance, 707 SQN further developed its equipment delivery team's tactics, techniques and procedures.

Achieving the optimal balance

A former Air Force Regular, MAJ (NS) Lee was previously an Airforce Recruitment Officer at the Airforce Recruitment Centre, before becoming a Defence Executive Officer (DXO) in 2010.

Having transited to the DXO Scheme eight years ago, the father-of-one is currently working at the Signals Institute at Stagmont Camp as an Admin Officer. Naturally, he has to juggle many commitments, such as work, family and NS.

"I am the family chauffeur, so whenever I go for ICT, it's a big adjustment for them!" said MAJ (NS) Lee with a laugh. "My wife is very supportive during these times and helps to settle any family matters, and I thank her for that."

Whenever MAJ (NS) Lee dons the Republic of Singapore Air Force uniform, his six-year-old son, Theodore, gets very excited, as it is not often that he gets to see his father in uniform. 

"It is heartwarming to see his face light up with a smile every time I wear the uniform."  

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