Why We Serve
01 Jul 2021

SAF Day on 1 July 2021 marked a milestone for 39 of our colleagues who were promoted by the SAF over the past year. We chat with some of them to find out what it means to be part of Singapore’s defence community and armed forces.

Development Programme Manager
(Digital Hub)

David Wong

Name one experience in National Service (NS) that you have found beneficial for your work at DSTA?

Throughout NS, I have seen firsthand how an organisation’s culture is shaped by the acceptance levels of its members’ behaviours. During the Battalion Tactics Course, I learnt from peers in the Special Operations Task Force that radical candour is a key ingredient for nurturing high performance teams. Nobody gets mauled for speaking up against bad ideas or practices. Every member of the unit, regardless of rank, has a strong sense of humility and constantly seeks to challenge their own assumptions against new and untested suggestions. This shapes how my team and I establish habits and approach challenges in our work at Digital Hub.

What is your favourite NS memory?

I had the opportunity to participate in tank platoon and combined arms live-firing manoeuvre exercises in Germany, Australia and Singapore. As an adrenaline junkie, I miss the rapid mission pace and sensory chaos of operating one’s own tank, while devising plans on the fly to outfox opposition units.

In your opinion, what is the importance of NS, especially against the backdrop of COVID-19?

NS during COVID-19 took many shapes and forms. Three of Singapore’s six pillars of Total Defence – military, civil and social – stood out prominently as our community sprang into action to help protect the vulnerable. It’s heartening to observe the NS spirit embodied in our collective grit to overcome challenges together.

Any words of encouragement for your fellow NSmen?

Serve not because we hate the enemy in front of us, but to defend our loved ones behind us.

Senior Engineer
(Systems Management)

Kenny Yong

Were there any incidents during NS that left a deep impression on you?

While still an NSF, I spotted a defect on one of the planes in my squadron during a pre-flight check and notified my superiors immediately. The aircraft was subsequently flagged as unserviceable. From this experience, I realised how thoroughness might help avert accidents, and that has made me more meticulous in my daily tasks.

What is one experience in NS that has been beneficial for your work at DSTA?

Being safety conscious was a common theme during my NS days and having great attention to detail was emphasised, as undetected system defects could lead to disastrous consequences. Safety is also a recurring theme in my work as a defence engineer with DSTA. The discipline drilled into me during NS is still beneficial to my work today.

And vice versa?

Through my work, I have learnt that it is important to discern facts for myself so I can make informed decisions. As an NSman, I adopt the same mentality to ensure my colleagues and I understand the ground rules of our operations to achieve mission success.

Senior Procurement Manager

Jeremy Tay

What does NS mean to you?

I believe NS is the ability for Singapore to deal with any kind of adversity. The SAF has stepped up during the current COVID-19 situation and supported the nation in many areas such as contact tracing, health surveillance and mass testing despite not being trained for such tasks. This gives me great confidence that the SAF will play a crucial role in Singapore’s recovery from COVID-19.

How has NS prepared you for your career?

NS taught me to always prepare for the unexpected and that it is important to work as a team to resolve complex issues. In Procurement Programme Centre, we are always working with our engineers and SAF counterparts to ensure a smooth process. When things do not turn out as planned, we have to be able to adapt and respond promptly. Being well prepared and having a team I know I can rely on help us get back on track quickly.

Finally, what would you like to share with your fellow NSmen?

A chain is as strong as the weakest link and any signs of weakness will make us vulnerable to adversaries. Fight hard and press on!