215 cadets graduate as SAF officers in small-scale ceremonies

Officer cadets from Infantry watching a recorded speech by Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Trade and Industry Dr Tan See Leng. PHOTO: MINDEF
Officer cadets from Infantry tossing their peak caps to mark the completion of the commissioning ceremony. PHOTO: MINDEF

SINGAPORE - After three years in the accounting industry, Lieutenant L. Vaishnavi realised that a desk-bound job did not suit her.

Inspired by her brother-in-law's experiences in the armed forces, the then 25-year-old made an abrupt mid-career switch and joined the Singapore Army.

She is among the 215 cadets who have graduated as Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) officers after completing 38 weeks of rigorous training at the Officer Cadet School (OCS).

LTA Vaishnavi recalled: "I told my parents, 'I'm resigning now, and I'm sending in my application (for the army) tomorrow.' I needed something challenging that kept me learning."

A knee injury initially held her back from keeping up with her fellow cadets, but the lifelong physical activity enthusiast persevered.

"I kept myself fit by training very often. To me, it's really mind over matter. It boils down to the fact that there's nothing that cannot be done with hard work," she said.

The 28-year-old's efforts paid off. She bested her younger male peers in the Individual Physical Proficiency Test and Standard Obstacle Course, and was recognised as the best in physical training in the artillery vocation.

She will go on to serve in the 21st Battalion Singapore Artillery.

The cadets are receiving their ceremonial swords and letters of appointment at decentralised small-scale ceremonies on Wednesday (March 9) and Thursday at the Safti Military Institute in Jurong.

Each cadet can invite two guests, who must be fully vaccinated and test negative for Covid-19 before the event. The ceremonies are staggered to minimise cross-interaction and common areas are sanitised between sessions.

In a recorded video message to the graduands, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng, the reviewing officer of the proceedings, expressed his appreciation for the SAF's significant contributions in the national fight against Covid-19 while maintaining operational readiness.

He said: "I was especially grateful for the SAF's support in containing the spread of Covid-19 at foreign workers dormitories... More recently, the SAF deployed about 100 soldiers to assist the Ministry of Health's call centre to provide guidance and reassure patients."

OCT Vaishnavi clinched the best in physical training award after 38 weeks of training at the Officer Cadet School. PHOTO: MINDEF

In December 2020, the SAF established the Cybersecurity Task Force to strengthen the Ministry of Defence and SAF's cyber defence capabilities, Dr Tan noted.

Dr Tan also urged the graduands to remember their duty and continue honing their leadership skills as newly minted officers, saying: "The leadership skills will stay with you for life, and it would be your responsibility to do good with it, even after your ORD (operationally ready date)."

Sword of Merit Recipient Steve Chia Min Xu, who is now a second lieutenant, said that his most valuable takeaway from the OCS was his peers. Having been in the obese batch in Basic Military Training, he knew few acquaintances and felt lost at first.

Sword of Merit Recipient Steve Chia Min Xu from the Singapore Army having his rank affixed by his parents. PHOTO: MINDEF

However, he grew to appreciate the camaraderie and teamwork.

The 20-year-old said: "At the end of my OCS journey, when I'd gone through more realistic mission profiles and served together with my peers, I discovered my purpose to defend what we love and cherish because that is what is important to us, and will continue to push us on for generations to come."

The article has been edited for clarity.

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