With and for Each Other

From a strong sense of camaraderie with his team, to being able to impact and shape people’s lives, the people factor plays a significant role in MAJ Yeo Bing Lin’s RSAF career and journey as a leader.

What was your initial impression and/or understanding of a MINDEF/SAF career? What got you to join?

During a flight on the Super Puma during the MINDEF Experience Programme (MEP), I was surprised to see how small Singapore was – you could easily see the entire city-state after taking off. Our vulnerabilities, such as the lack of natural resources and strategic depth to defend ourselves, left a deep impression on me. I appreciated that MINDEF/SAF played an important role not only in defending Singapore, but also securing our country’s future. Through my interactions with MINDEF/SAF personnel, I noticed the strong sense of camaraderie and dynamism offered by the career. This was an extension of the aspects I really enjoyed during my schooling days, especially as a water polo player, which I was looking for in a future career.

Tell us more about your current role, day-to-day responsibilities and challenges.

I am currently an Officer Commanding in 125 Squadron in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF). I fly the H225M Medium Lift Helicopter, the replacement of the Super Puma – the helicopter which I first flew on during MEP that inspired me to join the RSAF. In peace, our squadron is on standby 24/7 for Search and Rescue missions. It is a challenging mission as we are usually activated within a short span of time and must evacuate casualties with varying degrees of injuries. It is definitely one of the most meaningful aspects of my career as we directly impact the lives of people we save and also shows that the RSAF and the SAF are always ready when called upon.

How is the MINDEF/SAF career a rewarding one?

Two aspects of a MINDEF/SAF career are rewarding – people and purpose. As a leader and commander, I find it meaningful that I directly shape the personal and professional development of my people. The sense of camaraderie and bonds within the RSAF and SAF is also unique, as we do not just depend on each other to do well in our work, but also entrust each other with our lives. This career is also purposeful as it is not just a job but a calling. To do this well I have to be proficient in a range of skillsets – from the technical aspects of flying to an appreciation of global affairs – which is a constant challenge that draws me to this career.

Transcend limits. How have you experienced this taking place in MINDEF/SAF, be it in personal and professional development, and/or as an organisation?

As a leader in MINDEF/SAF, you are often given challenges that test your limits. I was given the task of planning Exercise Wallaby, the largest exercise between Our Army and the RSAF held in Australia annually, when I was still a junior pilot. Even as a young officer at HQ RSAF, I had the responsibility to look into the development and procurement of systems that will shape the way the RSAF will fight in the future. These experiences are empowering and have allowed me to grow into a competent commander and leader.

How would you say defence is transforming or has transformed and how does your role (and the roles of future personnel) play a part in it?

The operating environment for defence is increasingly complex as there are more potential actors who can do harm through more varied means, such as drones or through cyberspace. The trajectories for technological development have also become more divergent; military technology is no longer limited to developments by large defence contractors but also commercial technology today. It is no longer sufficient for our personnel to be proficient in their traditional job scopes and in conventional skillsets. The leaders of MINDEF/SAF will play an important role in creating the right environment and culture for our personnel to become agile thinkers who are ready for future challenges.

What is the most memorable achievement in your career?

The most memorable achievement would be my first successful Search and Rescue activation. I can still vividly recall the adrenaline when we were activated. Despite the adrenaline rush, the mission ran like clockwork and was conducted successfully. I think that is testament to the robust training we undergo that ensures that we are always ready when called upon.

What have you learnt from your MINDEF/SAF career?

I have learnt that people development is fundamental to an organisation’s success. Procuring the best hardware will not be sufficient for us to defend Singapore. We need to ensure that we have effective people and operators to do so. Having effective people and the best hardware may ensure our success today, but we must continue to attract the best leaders who can chart MINDEF/SAF’s future and groom the next generation of the organisation.

What’s your advice to aspiring scholars who wish to embark on a military career?

I think that it is important to look beyond what attracts you to a military career, but to acknowledge if you are willing to take up the sacrifices that come with this career. Every career that is a calling requires conviction, and inevitably sacrifices – and in a military career, the ultimate sacrifice is your life. I encourage you to speak to as many MINDEF/SAF personnel as possible to understand their experiences, sacrifices, and what motivates them to keep going. I believe that you can only fully appreciate what draws you to the career after understanding and accepting the sacrifices that come with it.

2012 The SAF Scholarship Recipient
Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, University of Illinois
Master of Engineering, University of California
Now: Officer Commanding, 125 Squadron