New Chief of Defence Force and Chief of Air Force

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will get a new chief when Lieutenant-General Neo Kian Hong relinquishes his appointment in March.

Lt-Gen Neo, 48, who has held the post since 2010, will take on a "senior position in the Civil Service" after he steps down, said the Defence Ministry in a statement on Monday.

The current Chief of Air Force, Major-General Ng Chee Meng, 44, will take over as Chief of Defence Force on March 27.

The changes are part of the continuing process of leadership renewal in the SAF, the ministry said yesterday.

It said that LG Neo has served the SAF "with distinction" since he was enlisted in 1983. In his military career, he has commanded the 7th Singapore Infantry Brigade, 9th Division, among other units, before becoming army chief in 2007. Under his watch, the SAF created a new surveillance and intelligence network, dubbed the C4I Community. He also led the push to equip servicemen with handheld gadgets such as iPads and notebooks, for training.

The incoming defence chief Maj-Gen Ng joined the SAF in 1986. During his military career, he has commanded the 144th squadron, which operates the F-5 Tigers, as well as Changi Air Base. He has also served as head of the air plans department and as director of joint operations.

He has another sibling in the top rungs of the military: Rear-Admiral Ng Chee Peng, 43, is the navy chief. Maj-Gen Ng will be the first defence chief in more than 10 years to be appointed from the air force. Former air chief Bey Soo Khiang was appointed to the top job in 1995 before stepping down in 2000.

The new chief of air force will be Brigadier-General Hoo Cher Mou, who is trained in air surveillance and air traffic control. The 46-year-old will be the first non-pilot to be air force chief in the RSAF's 45-year history. Few, if any, militaries in the world have appointed an air force chief who is not a pilot.

Brig-Gen Hoo, who was a top student from Hwa Chong Junior College, joined the SAF in 1984. He holds a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University and a Master of Arts in Biochemistry from Cambridge University. In his military career, he has commanded the Air Defence and Operations Command (Adoc) and headed the Air Plans and Air Training departments in the RSAF.

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