MAJ Lim En ensures the operational readiness of her soldiers as the Commanding Officer of 24th Battalion Singapore Artillery. She is an SAF Merit Scholar, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from University of Chicago and a Master of Philosophy in International Relations from University of Cambridge.
Most of us would have learnt about World War II from history textbooks, movies or novels. For Major (MAJ) Lim En, the war was particularly close to home, as her grandmother was literally a sliver away from death during the Japanese occupation of Singapore.
The 32-year-old artillery officer shared with us the story of her grandmother hiding in the tall grass from Japanese soldiers, who were cutting through the vegetation with their razor-sharp swords.
She exclaimed: “They narrowly missed my grandma by an inch. It was pure luck and serendipity that she managed to survive that day!”
The story constantly reminded her that Singapore’s sovereignty cannot be taken for granted and that the country cannot prosper without a strong and capable defence force. It has also motivated her to embark on a meaningful career with the Army.
“Our small nation has come a long way. In the Army, our job is to defend what we cherish – our family, our loved ones, our way of life. Therefore, for me, joining the military is the best way that I can contribute to the defence of our country,” elaborated MAJ Lim.
Mission and Purpose
MAJ Lim wasted no time and signed on with the Army as soon as she finished her GCE-A levels.
“During my BMT (Basic Military Training) and time at OCS (Officer Cadet School), I affirmed my belief that this is what I wanted to do, as my instructors inspired me through leading by example in everything they did.”
It was also these experiences that prompted MAJ Lim to accept the SAF Merit Scholarship when it was offered to her in 2007.
“Whenever I book out from camp and spend time with my family and friends, I know that these are the people I am protecting. Every night when my family and friends are able to sleep soundly, it is a day that the SAF has done its job well. This is a huge responsibility but is one that, when done well, can be deeply beneficial for our families, our fellow citizens and the nation,” she told us.
Throughout the scholarship application process, she was reminded of the need to be aligned with the SAF’s mission and purpose. MAJ Lim was also assessed on her ability to lead and inspire, which she definitely has in spades. Many years on, she has grown from leading a section of seven fellow trainees, to a battalion consisting of almost 300 soldiers.
A Master of Deadly Precision
MAJ Lim is currently the Commanding Officer (CO) of 24th Battalion Singapore Artillery. She is responsible for the training, morale, discipline, safety, and well-being of her soldiers so that they are operationally ready to perform a full spectrum of operations – from peacetime to actual operations – when called upon.
“As the CO, the onus is on me to make a positive impact on their lives and the defence of Singapore. Every soldier in my unit is someone’s son or daughter, and it is my responsibility to train them well to protect our nation, and also develop their potential so that they realise that they are tougher than who they think they are. I constantly remind them that tough times don’t last, but tough men do.”
She also develops the “hardware”, “heartware” and family spirit of the battalion.
“Hardware” refers to the overall competency of her soldiers, be it weaponry, physical fitness, combat fitness and safety. “Heartware” includes letting the soldiers understand the purpose behind their training sessions and operational duties.
Binding everything together would be the family spirit that makes her soldiers feel part of a bigger team. “This can be a very strong motivation, to do things and respond together, to say that this is my country, this is my flag, this is our future and we are going to protect it with our lives together as a battalion.”
In 2020, through her leadership and her soldiers’ hard work, the 24th Battalion Singapore Artillery was awarded the Best Artillery Unit.
Seeing the world through multiple lenses
The Army is more than just leading and motivating soldiers. Throughout the 13 years that MAJ Lim has served in the Army, she has held various appointments, in areas such as planning, human resource, NS management and operations. The appointments added different dimensions to her work experience and honed her leadership competencies.
“My various appointments in the Army offered me the opportunity to see the world through multiple lenses,” she said.
“Whether it is staff, training or command appointments, I was able to hone my ability to look at issues and appreciate the long-term implications of certain trends and policies, to ensure good progress and stewardship of the Army and country.
When MAJ Lim is not in green, the mother of two toddlers volunteers her time as the Vice-Chairman of the Bukit Merah Community Centre Youth Network and a member of the National Youth Achievement Award Council.
“Having to implement policies on the ground and lead soldiers from the front at the same time, I was able to provide an equally critical viewpoint to ensure day-to-day operations run smoothly.”
MAJ Lim’s sense of purpose and duty to the nation is palpable. If you share similar sentiments and have the desire to contribute to the success of the nation, then the Army is definitely the organisation for you, she advised.
Concluded MAJ Lim: “If you believe strongly in contributing back to the community and the nation, then joining the Army is the best way to pay it forward. Singapore will only be a better country and a more resilient nation when we all have a stake in this country and want to protect the interests of our nation.”