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SAF – The Rock Of Our Defence

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LTC Goh Pei Ming and CPT Abubakar Bin Abdillah Alkatib have dedicated their careers to keeping our country safe. They share with us the motivations behind their decision and how an SAF career offers meaning, fulfilment and countless opportunities to broaden their horizons.

From the proud red berets of our Commandos to the formidable firepower of the Singapore Artillery, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) forms the bedrock of our ­nation’s defence. Drawing strength from its ranks of dedicated personnel, the Army defends Singapore’s sovereignty and our way of life. Of the thousands of recruits who enter the Army every year to serve their National Service (NS), a select few will find their calling in the SAF. Acutely aware of the importance of the SAF’s mission to preserve Singapore’s independence, they choose to pursue a career in the SAF and ensure that their fellow Singaporeans can sleep safe at night.

The key to our peace of mind
LTC Goh is now Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment (3SIR), an operational unit where recruits are trained to be dependable soldiers who are ready at any moment’s notice to defend Singapore’s peace and security.

‘I have two years to train an operationally-ready infantry battalion of over 500 soldiers to be competent, disciplined and committed to defending our home and way of life. Given my previous role in formulating defence policy at the Defence Policy Office, I am able to bring valuable insights from my work on defence diplomacy and the need for defence into the training of my men!’ he shares.

Meanwhile, CPT Abubakar is tasked with a more intimate role in his men’s training.

‘As Company Commander in 4 SIR, I am in charge of the training, morale and discipline of more than a hundred Full-time National Servicemen (NSF) infantry troopers. With a key role in all aspects of their training, I have many opportunities to interact with my men and influence their lives positively!’ he says.

SAF overlooks nothing in its mission to ensure the safety of Singapore and her citizens. By working hard on multiple fronts from diplomacy to conscription, the SAF ensures it is always prepared to handle all manner of potential threats with the best soldiers.

More than an ordinary job
For LTC Goh, his time as a scout at Dunman High School instilled in him a passion for an active, outdoor lifestyle and a heart to serve others. A career in the SAF presented itself as the ideal avenue for him to reconcile his twin passions and serve his country.
‘I was able to interact with senior SAF leaders during Basic Military Training (BMT), and at Officer Cadet School (OCS). I came away extremely impressed by their commitment and passion for their work,’ he enthuses.

‘I did not want to be measured according to profit margins or bottom lines and was keen to avoid a sedentary, desk-bound job. Given the extensive developmental opportunities offered by the SAF and its noble mission to keep Singapore safe, I decided to take up the SAF Overseas Scholarship (SAFOS) and join the SAF.

‘As a platoon commander when I first joined, I felt a great sense of responsibility towards ensuring that new recruits not only complete NS as competent and confident soldiers, but also as disciplined and dependable citizens. It is deeply rewarding to watch a young and impressionable teenager mature and grow more aware of his responsibilities towards his family, country and loved ones!’

CPT Abubakar was impressed by the sense of camaraderie during his BMT, where he forged strong bonds and memories with his fellow trainees. When he was offered the Military Training Award in OCS, it was clear to him that he wanted to pursue a career in the Army.

He explains, ‘I was sent to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst under the Military Training Award. My training showed me that my goal in life was to help people. Every Singaporean son passes through the Army as part of his NS, and I would be in the best position to touch and influence as many lives as possible and make a difference in our nation’s defence.

‘My job has evolved with changes in our society and technological developments. We have shifted our focus in operational training to take into account new developments in warfare. With easier access to information and improving education standards, we have also had to change our approach towards NSFs.
‘New recruits are of a different breed now and we can no longer apply the old training methods. As part of the SAF’s effort to provide NSFs with the best experience, we make use of relevant teaching methods to motivate our NSFs. Our recruits change along with the times, and it is a highly fulfilling task to try to win the hearts of my men while coming up with new methods to provide effective training!’

Geared up for all eventualities
With rotations between various departments and overseas attachments, LTC Goh enjoys a plethora of excellent developmental opportunities offered by the SAF.

He regales us with details of many eye-opening experiences, saying, ‘SAF rotates its staff to different job postings every 18 to 36 months, where they are exposed to new aspects of the Army. For instance, I had a previous stint in the Army Plans Department where I crafted and oversaw the long-term transformation efforts of the Army.

‘I also recently completed a one-year Advanced Command and Staff Course at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, UK, where I engaged the best military minds of the UK, and interacted with 87 other international students from 46 different countries.
‘My experience there validated the SAF’s training pedagogy and gave me confidence that our operational planning doctrine is robust and on par with other professional militaries. I was also selected as the top international student on the course, a distinction I attribute to the top-notch training I received in the SAF.

‘I was also deployed at the NATO Regional Headquarters in Kandahar, Afghanistan for six months in November 2010 as part of the Singaporean contingent of a multi-national reconstruction effort. My Afghanistan experience showed me the importance of not taking for granted our food, lodging, personal safety and shelter privileges.

‘In order to honour the sacrifices of previous generations who helped build a prosperous and developed Singapore, we must preserve and protect all that we hold dear. I was glad to have chosen a career in the SAF, where I have a direct role in ensuring the peace and security of my country and loved ones.’

CPT Abubakar has also been at the receiving end of the extensive support the SAF gives its officers and troopers.
He says, ‘I participated in the commissioning course of the British Army at Sandhurst. I trained with members of professional armies from all over the world as we learned to handle real-time combat situations. My previous SAF training had prepared me well, enabling me to clinch the Overseas Sword-of-Honour.

‘The SAF continued to give me support during my studies at the University of Edinburgh, UK, where I pursued a Master of Engineering. Not only did I meet my wife there, I also gained new and broader perspectives and was immersed in a diverse and multi-cultural environment.
‘Throughout my studies, I continued to benefit from the qualities of discipline, resolve, and composure that Command School had ingrained in me. At Sandhurst, I went through training exercises which simulated actual situations in Afghanistan and Iraq. These exercises impressed upon me the gravity and responsibility of my job as a soldier, and equipped me with an even stronger sense of purpose to be prepared should similar situations arise!’
Singapore first, last, and always

LTC Goh and CPT Abubakar are living testimonies of their conviction and belief in the importance and relevance of SAF’s mission to guard our nation and protect our home.

An SAF career places Singapore first, always. With a key role in the defence of their homeland and loved ones, SAF soldiers serve a higher calling. In turn, the Army offers meaning, purpose and fulfilment to those who would join their ranks as a key pillar of Singapore’s defence.

LTC Goh Pei Ming
SAF Overseas Scholarship
Now: Commanding Officer,
3SIR
Attained: BEng, Cornell
University, US
MSc in Management Science
and Engineering,
Stanford University, US
MA in Defence
Studies, King’s College
London, UK

CPT Abubakar Bin Abdillah Al Katib
SAF Overseas Scholarship
Now: Company Commander,
4SIR
Attained: MEng, University of
Edinburgh, UK