Major Tung Wanling
SAF Merit Scholarship
Staff Officer (Naval Operations Department)
Master of Science in Neuroscience – University of Oxford
Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience, First Class Honours – University College London
Forming the first line of defence on the seaward front, the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) protects Singapore’s sea lines of communications and contribute to regional peace and security. The RSN’s indomitable presence is an effective deterrence for threats against our maritime nation, while also contributing to peace and security in the region.
Major (MAJ) Tung Wanling, 32, describes her choice to sign up with the RSN as a twist of fate. At the time, she had close to no knowledge about the SAF. It was an encounter with senior female naval combat officers that drew her attention to the work that the Navy did. Considering the work of standing guard over Singapore a worthwhile endeavour, she decided to apply for the SAF Merit Scholarship.
While the scholarship has given her countless opportunities for her development, what MAJ Tung appreciates most is how it led her to what she calls the three most important “ships”: mentorship, comradeship, and leadership. She attributes the skills she now uses to meet challenges in her work to the mentorship of her superiors at various stages of her career; the comradeship of her peers taught her the intricacies of working with a myriad of characters from different backgrounds, which comes in useful when interacting with colleagues from different agencies as well as foreign naval counterparts; her experiences leading a crew have helped shape the way she structures her thoughts, priorities, and actions during various operations, events, and issues.
It’s work that MAJ Tung considers to be fulfilling. “It has given me the chance to make a difference – no matter how small – in the nation’s position on current issues, to the lives of people within and outside of the organisation, as well as the future course of Singapore’s maritime journey.”
Getting Your Bearings
In her current role as a staff officer within the Maritime Security Branch of the Naval Operations Department, MAJ Tung’s roles and responsibilities are a stark contrast to when she started out as a junior officer. Instead of standing on the frontlines where she has a hand in the ship’s operations, she is now in charge of coming up with the operational policies that will drive the actions of on-the-ground units. “We formulate the way ahead for securing our nation’s critical sea lines of communication and we lead government responses to maritime security and sovereignty issues,” she says, elaborating on her current assignment.
A career with the RSN is not without its challenges, but the plentiful opportunities for leadership and professional development that MAJ Tung has enjoyed have helped to pave her way. “Opportunities for leadership within the Navy start even before you are commissioned; even as juniors in the Navy, we are entrusted with the responsibilities to lead departments that comprise regulars, NSFs, and sometimes even NSmen,” she shares, adding that these responsibilities call on naval officers to keep in mind their men’s welfare, discipline, and development.
Professional development goes beyond the know-hows of warfighting. Picking up the intricacies of human resource management, different training principles, as well as innovation and capabilities development are all encouraged and supported by the RSN. A specific example cited by MAJ Tung is her exposure to operational and international maritime law, which has helped immensely in her scope of work.
To those who are considering pursuing a career and scholarship with the RSN, Maj Tung has these pearls of wisdom: “Take it on if the purpose and its values resonates within you. Don’t see it as simply choosing a scholarship; choose a profession and call to duty that you can identify with. Ultimately, it will naturally influence what you live for and live by.”