SPEECH BY PRESIDENT TONY TAN KENG YAM AT THE 95/14 OFFICER CADET COURSE COMMISSIONING PARADE AT SAFTI MILITARY INSTITUTE on 17 JANUARY 2015

Graduands of the 95/14 Officer Cadet Course

Parents

Ladies and Gentlemen

To all those on parade today, I join your families and friends in congratulating you on your successful completion of the Officer Cadet Course.  You have gone through 38 weeks of physically demanding and mentally rigorous training that required tenacity, resilience and commitment.  In completing the course, you have proven your mettle and are now ready to take your first steps as officers of the Singapore Armed Forces.

2          Today marks the start of your leadership journey.  You are now charged with the responsibility of leading the men and women under your command to protect our country, our loved ones and our way of life.  Generations of SAF officers before you have demonstrated dedication and integrity in serving our nation, and we will count on you to live up to this proud tradition. As you undertake this serious and solemn duty, I urge you to live out the values instilled in you and the lessons learnt during your training.

3          Singapore is where we are today because we have never taken our peace and prosperity for granted.  Our pioneers worked hard to build up this country, laying a firm foundation so that future generations can live out their hopes and dreams.  They faced challenges with grit and determination because they had a vision for a better Singapore.

4          The same is true of the SAF and its pioneers.  The early generations of SAF leaders built up the SAF into a modern fighting force, so that a small country like Singapore can remain free in an uncertain world.  It is now for us to decide how we want to shape the SAF, and the institution of National Service, so that Singapore can continue to remain strong and secure.

5          A strong and credible defence has enabled our nation to shape our future and confront challenges confidently for 50 years.  In recent years, the SAF has expanded its scope of operations to be able to deter potential aggressors and address a wider range of challenges including terrorism, piracy and natural disasters.

6          In December 2004, the SAF launched its largest and most complex humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operation in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami.  We deployed 1500 personnel, 12 helicopters, 8 aircraft and 3 ships to Indonesia and Thailand.  More recently, the SAF had to respond very quickly to support the search and locate operations for Air Asia QZ8501.   In this operation, the SAF deployed more than 400 personnel, 5 navy ships, 4 aircraft and a six-man Autonomous Underwater Vehicle team.  Our sailors and airmen put in their best efforts and carried out their tasks despite the rough seas and difficult weather conditions, to help the Indonesians recover pieces of equipment and debris and locate the fuselage.

7          Building an SAF that can respond so quickly and effectively to unforeseeable challenges has not been straightforward or easy.  We started out with the most basic of equipment but worked hard to sharpen and upgrade our capabilities.  Through the years, we have also put you, our servicemen, through tough and realistic training.  The SAF therefore stands ready to defend Singapore against threats from the land, sea or air.  And as a result, Singapore is stronger and more confident of its place in the world.

8          As commanders, many of you will lead men and women who come from diverse backgrounds, with different beliefs, priorities and concerns.  We will depend on you as their leaders to mould them into strong, cohesive and capable teams.  Help them realise their potential, push them to new heights but always have their welfare and safety at heart. Imbue in them the right values and attitudes. Above all, show them that our nation, our people and our way of life are worth defending. 

9          There will be challenges and uncertainties in the road ahead of you, which you must have the fortitude and resilience to lead your men through. In these difficult moments, seize the opportunity to demonstrate leadership and remember the values you stand for.  Forge strong partnerships and build deep relationships with those under your command and across the SAF, so that the SAF is greater than the sum of its parts.

10        Among you today are two foreign officers – one from the Malaysian Armed Forces and one from the Royal Thai Army.  Over the past 40 years, more than 200 foreign officers have graduated from OCS.  The bonds of friendship forged during your time here reflect the warm and long-standing defence cooperation between our countries.  These ties will help us tackle increasingly complex threats that affect many countries, as the world has become more interdependent and inter-connected.

11        This is a proud and defining moment for you and your loved ones.  I congratulate all of you on your successful commissioning as officers of the Singapore Armed Forces.

I am confident that you will discharge your duties with professionalism, pride and confidence and wish you the very best as you uphold the OCS motto - “To Lead, To Excel, To Overcome”.

Thank you.