Lieutenant Colonel Lee Mei Yi is a branch head in Joint Operations Department. She has a Bachelor of Arts with General Honours in Economics from University of Chicago and a Master of Arts, Arts & Social Sciences from Columbia University, and was awarded the SAF Merit Scholarship (Women) in 2004.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) operates alongside the Navy and Army as a cohesive fighting force to deter and neutralise threats to our nation. To achieve mission success in safeguarding Singapore, it is crucial for all three Services of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to operate as one.
This is where Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Lee Mei Yi and her team step in. As a branch head in Joint Operations Department, she leads a team of officers from the Army, Navy and Air Force to develop operational concepts and doctrines for the SAF.
“As Joint Staff, we work closely with stakeholders from the Services and MINDEF to strategise and develop the SAF’s concept of future warfighting operations,” she explained.
Her role demonstrates an integral facet of a career in defence: how working together towards a common goal is more powerful and impactful than any single weapon or soldier can be.
A Firm Resolution
Even back in Junior College, LTC Lee was very certain about what she wanted in a job. She enjoyed challenges and treading off the beaten path, and was not keen on a desk-bound job. Most importantly, she wanted to serve our nation.
The RSAF appealed to her the most, as she felt that she could play to her strengths to defend the nation.
“My impression was that the Air Force is a technologically savvy and forward-thinking organisation. I wanted to serve as a combat officer, and the RSAF felt like a place where I could develop my psychomotor skills and technical knowledge, as well as hone my ability to think quickly,” explained LTC Lee.
With her family’s unwavering support and the strong bonds forged with her platoon mates during Basic Military Training, LTC Lee was further convinced that the RSAF was the place for her. And how could she resist the exciting prospect of being a military pilot and exploring the world?
Going Places with the RSAF
LTC Lee pursued a Bachelor of Arts with General Honours in Economics, at the University of Chicago. This was followed by a Master of Arts in Political Science at Columbia University.
She remembers her student days fondly, and is grateful for the many opportunities that helped shape her into the person she is today.
“My university offered a liberal arts education that taught us how to think, not what to think,” she recalled.
“I was exposed to a wide range of disciplines – arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics and languages. It focused on critical thinking and equipped me with analytical skills to apply to other fields, something which I use in my job till today.”
Her proudest moments in her career consist of not her own achievements, but moments when she brought value to others. “I have led as mission commander in large multinational exercises; and contributed in building up our fighter jet capabilities,” she said.
“These are key milestones, but my greatest satisfaction is seeing my men and women grow in their competencies, whether in flying or staff work, and thriving in their new tasks and roles.”
An Exciting Military Career
She also looks forward to future developments in the RSAF for herself, her team, and newcomers.
“It is an exciting time of transformation in the RSAF, and more broadly in the SAF too,” she explained. “As the next-generation SAF grapples with evolving threats, we hope to push our technological and operational edge, and seize opportunities in digitalisation and innovation.
LTC Lee will always have the heart of a pilot, no matter what her current appointment may be. She flies regularly with her squadron, and is proud to have flown in the SG50 flypast in 2015.
“Our people will be part of that transformation journey to induct new systems and creatively develop new warfighting concepts.”
For those on the fence about where to go, LTC Lee has some frank advice. “The thought of joining the military may be daunting.
“But if you believe in service and want to make a difference, the RSAF offers a challenging, exciting and meaningful career.”