NS officer ready to take on senior command role

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26 Oct 2020 | PEOPLE

NS officer ready to take on senior command role

// Story By Koh Eng Beng

// Photos By Chai Sian Liang & Courtesy of CPT (NS) Haniff

English 华文
CPT (NS) Haniff (right) receiving his graduation certificate from Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong at the graduation ceremony held at GKS CSC on 26 Oct.

For two full weeks in July this year, his wife and three sons, aged 12, 8 and 2, saw him in action as an army officer, planning for battles from morning through the night as he went through the Command and Staff Course (NS).

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) like CPT (NS) Abdul Haniff had to undergo a two-week home-based learning programme for the residential phase of the course conducted by the Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College (GKS CSC).

As a result, his family members now better understand the challenges he faces as an officer in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

CPT (NS) Haniff's family has a better understanding of the challenges of being an SAF officer after seeing him go through the Command and Staff Course (NS).

"(My wife is) fully appreciative when she sees me totally exhausted (from the course). Now she can see that, 'Oh actually, In-Camp Training is not just (about) stuff like picking up a gun and talking to friends," said the 39-year-old Guards officer. He added that his children have also taken an interest in his military work after seeing him go through the course.

CPT (NS) Haniff was among the 226 leaders who graduated from the GKS CSC this year. The cohort comprised 116 regular officers, 49 NS officers, 37 military experts, three SAF warrant officers, one Singapore Police Force officer, and 20 international officers from 13 countries. The CSC is a ten-month long course which prepares leaders for senior command and staff appointments in the SAF.

Safe and effective training

COVID-19 reached Singapore shortly after CPT (NS) Abdul Haniff and his fellow coursemates started their course in January. "Initially, there was some apprehension among the NSmen (if we could continue the course)," he recalled.

Despite the disruptions brought on by COVID-19, CPT (NS) Haniff and his coursemates were able to complete their training - thanks to the slew of safety measures put in place by the GKS CSC.

CPT (NS) Haniff (extreme right, second row from top) completing a planning exercise with his coursemates via video conferencing.

Besides introducing home-based learning for the first two weeks of the five-week residential phase, lectures conducted at GKS CSC were delivered 'live' to each group of students housed in different training rooms.

Within each small group, plastic sheets were put up to create a physical barrier between each student.

"At no point of time we felt that our safety was compromised," said CPT (NS) Haniff.

Honing planning skills

The course, he said, had honed his battle planning skills, and gave him a bigger picture of how the various Formations and Services work together across the SAF. This deeper understanding, he said, enables him to help his unit create more robust battle plans.

CPT (NS) Haniff is currently the deputy head of the Combat Service Support (CSS) Cell (also known as Dy S4) in the 13th Singapore Infantry Brigade (13 SIB). He is slated to take over as the Head of the CSS Cell (or S4) in 13 SIB for his next appointment.

"Whatever that you plan will be executed by the ground troops, so we have to make sure that we are as detailed as possible, because it impacts the men on the ground," said CPT (NS) Haniff.

Juggling demands

With the economy tanking due to the pandemic, the NSmen attendees faced the added pressure of ensuring that they were still relevant at the workplace while juggling the heavy demands of the course, said CPT (NS) Haniff.

CPT(NS) Haniff (first from left) at the opening ceremony of the 21st CSC(NS) earlier in January this year, with his colleagues from Certis Group who are also attending the 21st CSC(NS).

"Many companies were affected. This was something that was really at the back of our minds," said the senior manager who works at Certis Group.

CPT (NS) Haniff and his coursemates often had to clear their work in-between classes and during the weekends. But they had no qualms about making the sacrifice, said CPT (NS) Haniff.

"We're chosen to attend the course because we have a warfighting role that we have to fill. To be able to contribute...is a privilege that many of us cherish."