First female Chief Warrant Officer among over 500 SAF and Mindef personnel promoted

(From left) Master Sergeant Jason Ong, Senior Warrant Officer Jennifer Tan and Master Sergeant Jeffrey Ong.
(From left) Master Sergeant Jason Ong, Senior Warrant Officer Jennifer Tan and Master Sergeant Jeffrey Ong.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - From as young as nine years old, Senior Warrant Officer (SWO) Jennifer Tan would often accompany her late father, First Warrant Officer (Ret) Tan Hock Hai, to his workplace at the Tanglin Detention Barrack.

These trips provided her with first-hand experience of what a military career looked like and influenced her decision to join the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in 1984 at age 18.

She joined as an administrative supervisor and applied for the woman combat scheme in 1988, two years after the army recruited its first women combatants.

Over the years in the Armour formation, she has risen through the ranks and is set to become the SAF's first female Chief Warrant Officer.

She is among over 500 personnel from the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and the SAF being promoted this year.

Some of those promoted received their certificates from Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Chief of Defence Force Melvyn Ong at a ceremony on Thursday (June 28).

The promotion list included 461 Officers, 75 Military Experts (ME), and 40 Warrant Officers from Mindef Headquarters, Army, Navy and Air Force, and comprise regulars, operationally ready National Servicemen (NSmen) and Defence Executive Officers. A record number of 61 senior NSmen are promoted too.


SWO Tan, 52, currently Commanding Officer of the Armour Combat Training Centre, said it would be challenging to be the first female Chief Warrant Officer as she would be setting benchmarks for others to understand whether a woman could take on such a role.

"But fortunately, I have good friends and family support behind me whenever I face challenges," she said.

She added that the SAF has also offered more opportunities for women now.

"There are always opportunities for women. You must be passionate and committed and when you have demonstrated your ability ,you will get the opportunities," she said.

Sharing SWO Tan's joy were her sons, Master Sergeant (MSG) Jeffrey Ong and MSG Jason Ong, 28.

The twins, who will be promoted to Third Warrant Officer, said they were influenced by their mother and late grandfather to join the military.

Said MSG Jeffrey:"Since young, we have been to Sungei Gedong camp on Family Day and seen the tanks and armour vehicles, so we were exposed to these things and that inspired us to sign on."

Among the NSmen promoted, was Major (NS) Norhisham Main, Head of Medical Operations Cell, HQ 9 Discom and currently a director of service for supportive care and palliative medicine at Ng Teng Fong hospital.

He told The Straits Times about how teamwork helped to contribute to his service as an NSman.

"Employers play a big role and in the healthcare industry especially, someone has to manage the patients when I am away and my colleagues step up to help," he said.

"They all do their part during the two weeks that I am away for in-camp training (ICT)."