SAF appoints 89 new senior military experts

(From left): ME4 Shaune Lin Liling, 35; ME4 Benjamin Ng Zhi Long, 24; ME4 William Lim Qi Liang, 26; and ME4 (NS) Michael Gabriel Pillai, 44, were among the 89 senior military experts appointed during the 16th SAF senior military expert appointment ce
(From left): ME4 Shaune Lin Liling, 35; ME4 Benjamin Ng Zhi Long, 24; ME4 William Lim Qi Liang, 26; and ME4 (NS) Michael Gabriel Pillai, 44, were among the 89 senior military experts appointed during the 16th SAF senior military expert appointment ceremony officiated by Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How at the Temasek Club yesterday.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

First three NSmen psychologists under expertise conversion scheme also appointed

A professional counsellor of 15 years, Military Expert 4 (NS) Michael Gabriel Pillai is now qualified to train Singapore Armed Forces commanders in basic counselling skills.

The former logistics platoon sergeant, who completed his national service obligations in 2014, joined a scheme for operationally-ready national servicemen to continue serving in their areas of expertise - such as in nursing, engineering and law - three years ago.

ME4 (NS) Pillai, 44, was one of seven senior military experts from the expertise conversion scheme to graduate in a ceremony at the Temasek Club yesterday.

Under this scheme, which started in 2014, he will serve up to 40 days per year until the age of 50. His job will include teaching commanders how to break bad news and handle agitated soldiers.

The superintendent, who works at Meranti Home @ Pelangi Village, said: "Mental health is my passion, and is something I'm trained in. That's why I agreed when the opportunity came to use what I'm trained in to build more resilient and effective soldiers."

Meranti Home provides shelter and rehabilitation for destitute men requiring psychiatric care.

ME4 (NS) Pillai was one of 89 senior military experts who were appointed at the 16th SAF senior military expert appointment ceremony, which was officiated by Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How.

 

The cohort consisted of 12 military experts from the army, 39 from the navy, 20 from the air force, and 18 from the joint service.

The ceremony marked the completion of the military domain experts course, which trains military experts to assume roles in the SAF which require expertise.

In his speech, Mr Heng said that with increasingly complex security challenges, "the depth of knowledge in various fields, including intelligence, engineering and cyber defence, is a need, it is no longer a good-to-have".

He said more than 1,000 senior military experts have graduated since 2010, when the experts scheme was formed, including three defence psychologists, who yesterday became the first NSmen psychologists to join the senior military expert ranks, under the expertise conversion scheme.

Highlighting the threat in the online domain, Mr Heng cited the June attack on SingHealth's patient records, and Singapore being a "top target" during the June summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to analysts.

He said the SAF inaugurated the C4 Command and Cyber Defence Group last year and has groomed military experts in this area to bolster its cyber defences.

"It is not hard to imagine that Singapore would be within the sights of terrorists," he said, adding that high-profile events such as the Trump-Kim and Asean summits this year have strengthened Singapore's international standing but have also highlighted it as a target.

To counter this, the SAF has built up its capabilities, including the use of new technologies in data analytics and artificial intelligence by military intelligence experts.

Military Expert 4 William Lim, 26, who graduated with the sword of honour, said one of his aims will be to imbue his soldiers with a sense of purpose.

The platoon commander at the central ammunition base, Mandai West Camp, said: "Providing that purpose is important as national servicemen might become fathers of their own households in the future, and might influence their children next time in their outlook in the defence of the country."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2018, with the headline 'SAF appoints 89 new senior military experts'. Print Edition | Subscribe