It was reported yesterday (12 Mar) that Major-General (MG) Melvyn Ong Su Kiat, the Chief of Army (COA), will take over from Lieutenant-General (LG) Perry Lim Cheng Yeow as Chief of Defence Force (CDF) on 23 March 2018.
MG Ong joined the SAF in 1994 and was awarded the SAF Overseas Scholarship.
He was commissioned as second lieutenant in 1994 and has held various appointments in the SAF, including:
- Commander of the 7th Singapore Infantry Brigade from 2010 to 2011
- Head of the Joint Plans and Transformation Department
- Chief Guards Officer from 2014 to 2015
- Chief of Army in 2015
- Promoted to the rank of Major General on 1 July 2016
Hence, it took him 16 years to command a brigade, 21 years to become Chief of Army and 22 years to be promoted to Major General.
MINDEF said that MG Ong seeded initiatives to improve soldier performance and the NS experience. Key initiatives included the Soldier Strong campaign and establishment of the Centre of Excellence for Soldier Performance (CESP) to provide a scientific and data-driven approach to optimise the performance of each soldier.
MG Ong also oversaw plans to revamp the SAFTI training area into “SAFTI City” and hosted the 18th ASEAN Chiefs of Army Multilateral Meeting (ACAMM) and the 27th ASEAN Armies Rifle Meet (AARM).
He also chaired the executive committee of the 2015 National Day Parade.
As Commander 7th Singapore Infantry Brigade, MG Ong commanded an SAF contingent that oversaw earthquake-relief operations in New Zealand, MINDEF said.
UK Chief of the General Staff Nicholas Carter
In UK, the Chief of the General Staff is the equivalent of the Chief of Army in Singapore. He is the most senior uniform personnel in the Army branch of the defence force. The current Chief of the General Staff in UK is Sir Nicholas Patrick Carter.
Carter was born in 1959. He went to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was first commissioned as an army second lieutenant in 1978. He was subsequently promoted to lieutenant in 1980 and captain in 1984. As a junior officer he served in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Germany and Great Britain.
In 1991, he was promoted to major and attended the Staff College at Camberley. The next year, he became a company commander with 3rd Battalion, Royal Green Jackets.
He became military assistant to the Chief of the General Staff in 1994 and joined the directing staff at the Staff College later that year.
He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1996 and in 1998, was appointed Commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion, Royal Green Jackets.
During this time, he was deployed to Bosnia in 1998 and Kosovo in 1999. For his service in Bosnia, he was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in 1999. In Kosovo, he commanded a group of peacekeepers on a bridge over the River Ibar at Kosovska Mitrovica where he was tasked with keeping apart thousands of Serbs and Albanians gathered on either side of the bridge. He would later describe the role as being the “meat in the sandwich”.
In 2000, he was promoted to colonel and later participated in the War in Afghanistan. In 2004, he was promoted to brigadier and was given the command of 20th Armoured Brigade, commanding British forces in Basra, Iraq. He was awarded a further Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service for his service in Iraq. Hence, it can be seen that it took 26 years for Carter to command a brigade.
Carter became Director of Army Resources and Plans at the Ministry of Defence in 2006. And after 31 years in the service, he was promoted to major general in 2009 and was given command of the 6th Division which was deployed to Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, he was also appointed as Commander of ISAF Regional Command South.
In 2011, he became Director-General Land Warfare and having been awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his achievements commanding a task force of 55,000 troops in Afghanistan, he was promoted to lieutenant general and appointed Commander Field Army in November 2011.
He assumed the post of Deputy Commander, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), under the command of American general, John R. Allen, in September 2012 and, having handed over his command at ISAF in July 2013, he became Commander Land Forces in November 2013.
On 21 February 2014 it was announced that Carter would assume the post of Chief of the General Staff, after 36 years in the service.
So, we can compare the number of years taken to achieve the followings by Ong and Carter:
No doubt, it can be seen that the military career of our SAF scholar-general Ong proceeds much faster than that of Sir Carter.
Perhaps Singapore’s generals get promoted much faster than UK’s because they may be better than their UK’s counterpart? What do you think?