You've got a friend in me
// Story by Chia Chong Jin
// Photos by Kenneth Lin
How long does it take to become fast friends?
For Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Wee Yew Ming and Squadron Leader (SQN LDR) Blair Oldershaw, 10 months together at the Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College (GKS CSC) Command and Staff Course (CSC) was all it took to seal their friendship.
"The course has been tough, but it has definitely been rewarding in many ways. One of the most rewarding aspect is making friends – Blair is the first person from New Zealand whom I can call a friend," said LTC Wee, 35.
"We had other international officers in our team, and the fresh perspectives that they brought to discussions gave the local students like myself better insights into how they approach and solve issues." The pair was among 220 others to graduate from the CSC this year.
SQN LDR Oldershaw, 37, agreed. He added: "The course exposed us to how different societies and cultures approached problems and how different people think when they are approaching different problems, situations and scenarios.
"It’s enlightening, and one of my major takeaways is that the different perspectives which people bring to situations can really influence how individual countries might approach the same situations."
Outside of the CSC, the duo also celebrated this year’s Lunar New Year together.
"Yew Ming invited our family to his family’s celebrations; we had an authentic experience at his parents’ house, which was a really special experience for us. It’s a cultural experience and we definitely enjoyed ourselves," said SQN LDR Oldershaw. The Hercules Flight Commander also said that being able to travel overseas for study trips to Malaysia and Vietnam during the course was an eye-opener.
LTC Wee agreed: "We visited the armed forces of Malaysia and Vietnam and its respective key camps, and we also spoke to their senior leaders." He heads the Organisation & Estab Branch of the Air Plans Department in the Republic of Singapore Air Force.
Though the course was demanding (each day would last anywhere from nine to 12 hours), the duo said it was a worthwhile and enriching experience.
"There were very intense periods during the course but it is planned well. We were given time to reflect, to allow the things we have learnt to settle, and to also come up with new perspectives," said SQN LDR Oldershaw.
"There were many academic challenges, we pushed ourselves to understand and learn new perspectives, and to see things from different points of view, which is where the growth happens during the course."
LTC Wee added: "The course’s curriculum is indeed comprehensive and rigorous. From the many discussions and tasks that our team has had to deliver, I’ve learnt a lot."
The CSC prepares officers for senior command and staff appointments in the Singapore Armed Forces. It is the highest level of formal military education offered in Singapore for Regular, National Service and international officers.