To Be Dual Defenders
01 Jul 2022

For their contributions to NS and the nation, 34 DSTA colleagues were promoted by the SAF and celebrated their new milestone on 1 July 2022, SAF Day. 

Follow along as some of them share their experiences on what it is like to be defenders of Singapore – as both an NSman and a DSTA staff.

SAF Day_Wai Kit
Wong Wai Kit
Senior Engineer
(InfoComm Infrastructure)

How does it feel to be defending Singapore in your dual identity?

Gratifying! I’m proud to be able to support the country’s defence and security in the front end as a commander and also in the back end as a defence engineer. It has been a fruitful and rewarding experience as a DSTA staff and as an NSman!

Has NS changed you as a person?

By a huge margin. I’m an introvert by nature. Through various courses and leadership experiences during my NS days, I’ve had the opportunity to grow my leadership skills. I must say that thanks to NS, I’ve gotten a confidence boost and overcome the social anxiety I used to have!

Has your NS experience helped you with your work?

My NS experience has been extremely beneficial for my personality development. In particular, two values that have resonated well with me while juggling my roles as an engineer and an NS commander are teamwork and respect.

Both roles have taught me that every action has its consequences, and being in a team means having someone to help you look out for potential pitfalls and make your work better. I’ve learnt to look out for others and overcome challenges together as One DSTA, so as to progress and meet our common goals.

SAF Day_Kelvin Ang
Kelvin Ang
Senior Procurement Manager

Tell us more about how it feels to be both a DSTA staff and an NSman!

Wearing both hats is certainly interesting. It reinforces the fact that all Singaporean men have a role to play in defending Singapore, and the guys in DSTA play two roles! It is interesting to see the fruits of our labour in DSTA being used by the SAF – and our own NS buddies, no less! – and sometimes I do seek their feedback regarding the things that we procured for them. It makes me proud to know that in DSTA, we are doing meaningful work for every Singaporean son!

How has your experience in NS impacted your work?

Serving my two years as an NSF and multiple cycles of reservist have certainly put me in a good position to better understand the SAF’s requirements. As procurement professionals, it is crucial that we understand the detailed needs of our users, so that we can better advise them on the technical specifications of their purchases. Being familiar with army camps and their organisational structure has definitely helped me a lot when interacting with my users!

SAF Day_Kelvin Heng
Kelvin Heng
Senior Development Programme Manager

Could you share more about your NS experience?

NS has given me some fond memories, like going through tough outfield trainings and thriving in the field together with my platoon.

But more importantly, my NS experience taught me the need to work as a team and support one another to overcome differences and tough challenges. This has helped me with my work in DSTA’s Cybersecurity Programme Centre where I work with colleagues from different domains and backgrounds to develop secure systems for Singapore.

It gives me great pride to be able to contribute towards Singapore’s defence and national security in my own ways.

How are you supported when you go for your reservist?

DSTA is very supportive of our NS reservist. For me, my supervisors would plan with me how to keep work going while I’m away, and my colleagues would offer to cover for my work. These efforts allow me to go for my reservist with a peace of mind.

SAF Day_Justin Tan
Justin Tan
Principal Engineer
(DSTA Masterplanning & Systems Architecting)

How is it like for you to be both an NSman and a defence engineer with DSTA?

As NSmen, we often want to know the ‘why’ of everything before carrying out orders, and working with DSTA provides a bird’s eye view of how even the seemingly smallest of actions can contribute to the success of the larger mission. All in all, it has made me more cognisant of the importance of NS to Singapore’s defence.

On the other hand, becoming the end user during NS has allowed me to be more empathetic in developing robust solutions for the SAF using a user-centric approach. It has also provided me with hands-on experience as to how ops are planned and executed, which makes me appreciate ops-tech integration more.

How has your NS experience shaped your personality?

I’ve learnt to be more adaptable in working with diverse teams, and NS has also made me more accepting of the fact that there is always a larger picture that we’re working towards, even though it might not be initially apparent to the team on the ground.

SAF Day_Andy Ong
Andy Ong
Senior Engineer
(Advanced Systems)

What’s it like to see Singapore’s defence from both the perspective of an NSman and a defence engineer?

Working in DSTA has helped me understand system design considerations behind our operations in NS. This, in turn, has also helped me better appreciate the missions that I am a part of in the grand scheme of things.

Also, when I’m at work, I often think about how I can streamline system operations to make it easier to operate for other users in future. As an operator in NS myself, I work hard to implement improvements for our end users.

What did NS teach you?

I was more of a lone wolf before NS, but NS taught me the value of teamwork. There are things that cannot be accomplished alone, and I have to trust my team fully in order to complete our missions successfully and safely.