The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) prides itself as a “First-class Air Force” that augments the island-state’s defence capabilities. At the heart of this defence corps are the men and women who dedicate their lives to protect us.
Epitomising the RSAF’s spirit of serving the nation is Captain (CPT) Michelle Teo. A sporty and ambitious individual, CPT Teo was keen on a military career as it offered dynamic challenges. She decided to join the RSAF after discovering her passion for flying while completing her private pilot license during her younger days. She is currently a pilot for the F-16 aircraft.
She describes flying to be a physically and mentally demanding task but shared that she was undeterred by the obstacles that came her way. “Pilots work in fluid environments and are required to make decisions in a matter of seconds. While the movies may portray pilots using their instincts to overcome the odds, the reality is that flying requires a great amount of preparation and critical thinking,” she explains.
CPT Teo is thankful for the opportunities from her scholarship that have equipped her with the skillsets to overcome these challenges. A recipient of the prestigious Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Merit Scholarship, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University. “I believe that the education I received overseas developed my intellectual capacity to assimilate new concepts and process information quickly so I may apply critical thinking on my missions,” she elaborates.
Captain (CPT) Michelle Teo Li-Ming
Pilot (F-16 aircraft)
Recipient of the SAF Merit Scholarship
The SAF Merit Scholarship offers work attachments to groom its scholars. “During my university days, the SAF would plan vacation attachments to develop me as an SAF Officer. I picked up leadership skills, learnt about manpower issues and gained a deeper understanding of the RSAF’s operations. Additionally, the SAF has a variety of courses throughout an officer’s career – and this is testament to our belief in the importance of continuous learning,” she shares.
Having been in RSAF for three years now, she declares with pride that the SAF is a progressive organisation that supports women. She says, “The SAF has done a great job in creating an environment for women to thrive and provides equal opportunities for both men and women to succeed. Additionally, I feel our servicemen and even society at large are very supportive of servicewomen as well. I am not only heartened by the SAF’s efforts, but also proud to be a part of this inclusive organisation.”
When asked why young men and women should join the military as she has, CPT Teo says, “A career with the SAF is challenging, but ultimately rewarding. This is because the SAF fundamentally believes that its people are its greatest asset. Therefore, it strives to develop well-rounded officers and rotates us around operational, staff and, ultimately, command appointments. Being in the SAF will allow aspiring scholars to ‘walk the ground’ and be intimate with Singapore’s security challenges. This will put them in great stead to implement policies that are beneficial to Singapore.”