DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the 109/17 Officer Cadet Course Commissioning Parade

SM Tharman Shanmugaratnam | 17 June 2018

DPM and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, speaking at the 109/17 Officer Cadet Course Commissioning Parade at the SAFTI Military Institute on 17 July 2018.


Graduands of the 109/17 Officer Cadet Course,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First and foremost, my heartiest congratulations to each and every one of the graduands standing on the parade square, on your successful completion of the 109/17 Officer Cadet Course. It is my privilege to witness this important milestone in your military career.

I am sure each of you has a deep sense of achievement in having made it through the Officer Cadet Course. We haven’t made it easy - the past 38 weeks of training have been grueling, both physically and mentally, preparing you to take on the challenges ahead.

You now understand the sacrifices and commitment required to protect Singapore’s independence. You know what it takes to lead - and to care for - the soldiers under your charge. You have proven that you have the knowledge, the determination, and the mindset, to be Officers of the Singapore Armed Forces. This is why you are standing here today, and why we are entrusting you with the heavy responsibilities of leadership in a key institution of our nation.

Changing Role of the SAF

The peace and stability we enjoy in Singapore can never be taken for granted. It is the very foundation upon which our homes are built, on which jobs are created and upon which opportunities for Singaporeans can continue to grow. Today, you join the many servicemen and women in the SAF who safeguard this peace every day and every night, for the past five decades. These contributions are immense, and serve as a strong deterrence for those who seek to disrupt our peace.

Over the years, we have built up the SAF into a professional fighting force with leading-edge capabilities. Today, it is capable of responding to a full spectrum of operations, whether it is Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief Operations, maritime security deployments or peace support operations. Yet, we operate in an ever-changing security landscape, and the SAF will have to continually evolve, adapt and respond.

Terrorism is a real and pressing threat across the region. The SAF and the Home Team have enhanced their joint responses to homeland security threats, conducting joint security patrols and joint training to equip NSmen with the skills to perform homeland security operations.

The SAF also contributes to international efforts to combat terror at its source. The SAF has sent an Imagery and Analysis Team to Kuwait and a medical team to Iraq. They have been highly effective in supporting the multinational coalition efforts against ISIS. The SAF Counter-Terrorism Training Unit (CTTU) is partnering international forces to train the Iraqi Security Forces in combat tactics and dealing with improvised explosive devices.

Another new area that we have to deal with is in cyberspace. Singapore is highly connected, which makes us more susceptible to cyber threats. The SAF is already making significant strides in this area. The SAF C4 Command was inaugurated in 2017 to coordinate its cyber defence operations and build capabilities, related to the four C’s – Command, Control, Communications and Computers. The SAF also launched the Cyber NSF scheme this year to tap on the skills of full-time National Servicemen who have the requisite talent and expertise in this area.

Friends and People

But capabilities and infrastructure alone are not sufficient to deal with these threats. To deal with such transnational challenges, we have to work closely with our partners around the world to address common security threats, and build a network of strong defence ties, bilaterally and multilaterally. We maintain and reaffirm these relationships with our friends, through regular exercises together. This year, as the Chairman of ASEAN, Singapore is continuing to strengthen regional defence ties and enhance military cooperation between countries.

On this note, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate officers from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and Royal Thai Army who are graduating today. I would like to thank your countries for your continued friendship with Singapore and the Singapore Armed Forces. As you embark on your leadership journey, I hope that you will continue to build on the friendships that you have forged here.

Of course, none of our defence and security would be possible without the dedication of our people – our servicemen and women who have tirelessly contributed to the professionalism and excellence within the SAF. This year, we celebrate RSAF50, commemorating 50 years of our airmen and women safeguarding our skies, and I want to take this opportunity to thank them for their contributions.

But it’s not just our airmen and women – it’s also our soldiers and our sailors. It’s those of you who have chosen to make the SAF a career, and the many more of you who have shown such commitment to our defence as NSmen. Our SAF is strong only because of the sacrifice and the continued support of generations of NSmen and their families. I too would like to thank you for your commitment to Singapore, and our defence.

The 348 of you who are commissioning today – you are now part of the National Service institution too. The country is entrusting our defence in your hands. Parents are entrusting their sons in your hands. And your men are entrusting their lives in your hands.

What you do and how you conduct yourselves will shape the National Service experience of those who look up to you as officers and leaders. Lead them well, train them hard, and keep them safe. This is a serious responsibility, which you must undertake with the utmost of care.

As you don your epaulettes, remember the lessons that you have learned and the resolve that you have shown to get here. Take these lessons with you as you step forth as leaders. Lead by example, with conviction, courage and compassion. Inspire others with your commitment and professionalism, and let your values guide you. Continually strive for excellence, and always demand from yourself the highest standards of character.

Finally, to the family and friends of our graduands gathered here, I thank you all for your support, love and encouragement. As they stand proudly in the parade square today, I am sure their pride is yours too.

Once again, to the newly commissioned officers of the 109/17 cohort, my warmest congratulations to you, and may you always be anchored by the Officer’s creed: To Lead, To Excel and To Overcome.

Thank you.