“W e are really blessed to enjoy peace and security in Singapore. Peace and security, however, is not a natural state of affairs. It doesn’t just happen – we have to keep working for it.” These are honourable words by MAJ John Samuel, an officer and a leader of our first-class Air Force. The ethos that guides MAJ John reverberates throughout the entire Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), the reason our skies today are free from external threats.
Not a Force to rest on its laurels, the RSAF remains committed to strengthening its aerial capabilities. It houses an impressive line-up of the world’s most sophisticated aircraft, including fighters, trainers and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) – all equipped with its own function to safeguard our airspace.
For MAJ John, he is currently on course at the Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College. Prior to undertaking his course, he served in the UAV Command’s 119 Squadron as Flight Commander. The flight commander essentially commands a team of pilots and air imagery experts, and raises the team’s professional standards and training. “The work that we do in the Squadron is about training our UAV pilots well and developing our UAV fleet to be the strongest it can be,” says MAJ John.
UAV Technology is maturing worldwide and is an important constituent of any modern Air Force. MAJ John’s squadron flies the Heron 1 UAV, the latest addition to the RSAF’s UAV fleet. Featuring state-of-the-art avionics, detection capabilities and communications systems, the Heron 1 UAV provides commanders, planners and soldiers on the ground with better situational awareness to make more timely and informed decisions.
MAJ John Nehemiah Samuel
Recipient of the SAF Scholarship
Flight Commander, 119 SQN / Currently on course at Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College
In forging ahead towards its vision of becoming a 3rd Generation RSAF, the Force has to do more than just enhancing its operational concepts and technology. It also places considerable emphasis on people development to nurture the officers at the helm of the RSAF.
One of the ways the “One Force” does this is by rotating its officers between Command and Staff appointments. Command appointments enable officers to execute plans and manage nearer term issues, while Staff appointments give officers the chance to think about the policies and plans that will strengthen the RSAF in the long term. “The military career therefore spans all the way from policy to execution,” MAJ John explains. “I find this meaningful because it helps us build a sense of reality and practicality in our plans. There is no ‘ivory tower’. It also reminds me that leadership is not just about having the most brilliant plan, but also being able to convince and lead people in pursuit of shared goals.”
In fact, prior to MAJ John’s appointment as a Flight Commander, he held the appointment of Staff Assistant to the Chief of Air Force. “I feel very privileged and grateful to have served in that capacity. Working close to the Chief of Air Force gave me much exposure to what it takes to defend our peace and sovereignty day after day, while at the same time prepare our Air Force to meet the challenges of the future. I got to know many people from every part of the Air Force, and it was heart-warming to see how ordinary people with extraordinary pride for their work keep the Air Force going from day to day,” MAJ John muses.
Nurturing its People
While MAJ John’s developmental opportunities have enriched his military career considerably, he feels that there is always room to absorb more learning experiences. “Right now I’m just focusing on being a good commander and learning as much as I can in my professional responsibilities,” he shares.
“MINDEF/SAF believes in developing its people to their fullest potential. I am grateful for the breadth of opportunities that the organisation has given me,” MAJ John concludes earnestly.