L ife takes you to unexpected places, and sometimes it brings you to where you need to be. As he would tell us, joining the service was not always in LTC Phua Jia Kai’s cards. He tells us with refreshing candour, “Growing up, the closest thing I had to a childhood ambition was to become a diplomat! My interest in the SAF only started in Basic Military Training (BMT) and Officer Cadet School (OCS) – that’s when I saw how meaningful a career in the armed forces could be. As I found out more about the various vocations in the RSAF, as well as the opportunities offered by The SAF Scholarship, joining the military became a very easy decision to make.”
Serving a Greater Purpose
After 12 years of service, LTC Phua is now the Commanding Officer of 111 SQN in Transport Group, Air Combat Command. He states, “I command a team of approximately 100 pilots, controllers and engineers, in addition to four very sophisticated Gulfstream 550 Airborne Early Warning aircraft.”
LTC Phua Jia Kai
Recipient of The SAF Scholarship (formerly known as SAF Overseas Scholarship)
Commanding Officer, 111 SQN, Transport Group, Air Combat Command
As a Commanding Officer, LTC Phua has significant responsibilities to fulfil. He tells us, “First and foremost, I have to ensure that we always succeed in our mission of safeguarding Singapore’s skies. At the most fundamental level, this means training my people well to make sure that they are equipped with the necessary skills to discharge their duties. Beyond that, I am also responsible for their discipline, morale, and welfare.”
One of LTC Phua’s more memorable experiences is his involvement in the National Day Parade 2015. He recalls the sense of pride he gained in seeing his aircraft as part of the NDP Flypast. “To be able to play our part on such a momentous occasion for the nation is something that my crew will never forget. I also had another crew fulfilling air defence duties to guard our skies while our country united in celebration. Donning the uniform that day and experiencing the pomp and excitement surrounding SG50 reminded me that an RSAF career is more than just a job. We keep our families, loved ones and Singaporeans safe.
The Heart to Serve
All in all, LTC Phua readily recommends the RSAF to anybody with the interest to contribute to the defence of Singapore. “Be ready to embrace dynamism. The RSAF is a fast-paced organisation, not just in terms of the nature of its operations, but also how it manages the careers of its scholars.
“Above all, you need to have the heart to serve. The RSAF is a very operational organisation. Our servicemen can get deployed to halfway across the world at the drop of a hat, in support of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations. Our servicemen also stand ready on a 24/7 basis for air defence. These operations are meaningful, but often entail personal sacrifice. So as long as you have the heart to serve, the RSAF is a choice that you will not regret.”