Defending our nation on the International Stage

She doesn’t command a military troop. She doesn’t bear any arms. Yet Rachel Ong plays one of the most critical roles in maintaining Singapore’s safety at the global level.

Share with us more about your day-to-day role and challenges.
At Defence Policy Office, I manage Singapore’s defence relations with our foreign partners on a daily basis. This includes drafting recommendations to senior management on events that impact Singapore’s international standing, providing oversight of defence cooperation between Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) /Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and countries under my portfolio, and working with counterparts from other countries to arrange high-level visits.

How has working in MINDEF changed your life or thinking?
Being exposed to an international portfolio for the past two and half years has shown me how precarious Singapore’s security realities actually are. I have developed a deeper appreciation for the sheer effort our Government takes to guard Singapore against potential adversaries, as well as maintain our relevance on the global stage.

What is the most memorable achievement in your career?
A particularly memorable achievement was helping to plan and execute the 20th Anniversary of the Republic of Singapore Armed Forces’ training in France in 2018. Watching our M-346 aircraft seamlessly soar the skies alongside the French Air Force at the French National Day was so much more than simply being invited to perform. It was a deep appreciation of all the hard work MINDEF/SAF had put in over decades to achieve world-class capabilities despite our geographical and resource constraints.

What drives you at work?
Teamwork—in particular, having a team that would fight alongside you through thick and thin. It sounds corny but when it’s crunch time, the vision of my teammates and I fighting like battered soldiers to hold the frontlines against the enemy pushes me to give my 110%.


"As a DXO, I hope to be able to work in as many departments to learn
what it takes to uphold Singapore's defence."


A good, effective leader is….
One that is firm but fair. One who is willing to roll up their sleeves and work just as hard as their followers, and at the same time, looks ahead to provide a clear vision for the team.

What’s your advice with aspiring scholars who wish to embark on a Defence Executive Officer (DXO) career?
If you choose a DXO career, rest assured that there will be sufficient challenges to push you professionally. If you are keen, reach out to as many people in the Ministry of Defence as possible and listen to their experiences before deciding whether a DXO career is suitable for you.

Ms Rachel Ong
2013 Defence Merit Scholarship Recipient
Manager, Defence Policy Office
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