MAJ Toh Jia Jun assists his Commanding Officer and Executive Officer in running the operations on board RSS Tenacious as the Operations Officer. He has a Master in Laws in International Legal Studies, New York University, USA and a Bachelor of Laws, University College London, United Kingdom.
Fascinated by the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN)'s active role in both the deterrence and diplomacy pillars of Singapore's defence policy, MAJ Toh Jia Jun, Operations Officer on RSS Tenacious (Formidable-class frigate), was attracted to the prospect of serving in the RSN during his National Service. The close-knit family spirit in the RSN further convinced him to sign on with the RSN.
MAJ Toh was awarded the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Merit Scholarship in 2011 and went on to pursue a Bachelor of Laws from University College London, United Kingdom and a Master of Laws in International Legal Studies from New York University, United States. Many norms and global commons in maritime domain are built upon international laws, such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and MAJ Toh's law education has helped him immensely in his daily work in the RSN.
“Without cognisance of the complex legal frameworks within which states act, the use of even significant military force can achieve but relatively transient political impact,” he explained. “The study of Law appealed to me as it allowed me to appreciate the wider context and consequences of actions considered or taken for national security. In wielding the military as a policy tool, the modern state is both constrained and empowered by national and international law.”
The analytical and critical thinking skills that MAJ Toh acquired from his overseas education proved to be valuable in helping him perform his duties and lead the men and women under his charge.
“A piece of advice I received before I departed for my first year was that ‘university is to expand your mind, not fill it'. Simple but sage advice,” he summarised. “From faculty members to fellow students to academic writings, the variety of views I encountered and interacted with during my undergraduate and postgraduate studies helped to develop my ability to conceive ideas creatively and consider issues comprehensively.”
Such skills are critical to him as Operations Officer on RSS Tenacious, as he plans operations with fellow officers and leads operations from the ship's Combat Information Centre to achieve mission success. Besides the frigate, MAJ Toh was also previously deployed on the RSN's latest class of warship - the Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV). He recalled proudly how he and his crew achieved the first-ever helicopter landing on the LMV. They successfully landed a S-70B Seahawk on the flight deck, paving the way for naval aviation in the Flotilla.
A Scholarship with a Purpose
Taking on the SAF Merit Scholarship and a career with the RSN requires a commitment beyond just service to nation. MAJ Toh explained: “The personal sacrifices that you and your family may be asked to make, the military discipline that's required, and the physical and mental rigours of life at sea mean that this is no typical scholarship.”
“In every new appointment you assume – which could be on any of the many classes of warships or departments across the RSN – there is a constant push to quickly learn, consolidate and contribute to your team. However, this persistent exposure to new things and experience is what motivates everyday.”
A Tactical Mindset
An avid Weiqi player in his youth, MAJ Toh was familiar with thinking strategically to achieve his goals even before becoming a naval officer.
For the Next Wave
Citing Singapore's own progress as an example, MAJ Toh has some stirring advice for students who are graduating in today's world which is surrounded by uncertainties. “In our short history as an independent state, Singapore has survived and even thrived in challenging and uncertain times. Today, a strong government working hand in hand with a formidable defence force is needed for us to continue to prevail.”
“As ever, the public service needs its fair share of talent, so I encourage those who are graduating to consider whether you are willing and able to join the public service and the RSN to contribute to the future of our country.”