Photo Credit to MINDEF/SAF – MAJ Kenn Yap
Major (MAJ) Yap Zhe Liang Kenn was only nine years old when the September 11 terrorist attacks happened in 2001. The prevalence of terrorist threats globally left an indelible impression on him and influenced his decision to embark on a career in the military in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).
Currently a Battery Commander in the 3rd Divisional Air Defence Battalion (3 DA Bn), MAJ Yap leads a team that performs critical air defence duties. These include manning the RBS-70 short-range air defence missile system that helps protect Singapore’s skies, as well as maintaining the operational standards, training and development of his unit.
In addition, he assists his Commanding Officer to plan and execute current operations, as well as chart longer-term developments for the unit. Says MAJ Yap: “It’s important that I choose a career that offers dynamic experiences and serves a meaningful purpose. The mission of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) resonates the most with me because
my generation has been able to live and grow up in a safe environment due to the contributions of those who came before us. And now it’s my turn to do my part.”
A fulfilling journey
A recipient of the SAF Merit Scholarship in 2012, MAJ Yap pursued a double degree in Accountancy and Business at Nanyang Technological University. During his studies, he was attached to various RSAF units to learn about operations within the organisation. Since his return, his appointments have taken him on overseas training exercises in Australia, South Africa and Thailand.
After graduation, MAJ Yap served as a Platoon Commander in 3 DA Bn where he trained and worked closely with servicemen. As a leader, he was constantly challenged to communicate effectively with his team, which made him a stronger soldier and a better individual.
He says: “Every serviceman comes from a different background and responds differently to motivation and learning techniques. I’ve learnt to adjust my style to engage them and to treat every interaction as a new one, drawing from the lessons of past experiences.”
One of MAJ Yap’s contributions is his involvement as a Staff Officer in the organisation’s transformation into the Next Generation SAF, led by the Joint Plans and Transformation Department. As a Force Transformation Officer, MAJ Yap found his role fulfilling because he had the opportunity to leave a significant and long-lasting impact on the future of the organisation.
MAJ Yap recognises that dealing with change on a regular basis is part of the job and he is thankful to have a good support system.
Whenever he encounters a problem, he finds it useful to discuss his perspectives and ideas with his team, peers and superiors. He says he also values the sharing sessions and dialogues with the senior officers who have been through similar experiences in their own journeys.
MAJ Yap says: “With the strong mentoring culture and emphasis on growth within the RSAF, I’ve benefited greatly from the advice of my mentors and seniors — from the time I was going through the scholarship interview process to my recent preparation for my appointment as a Battery Commander.
“I’ve found that, besides the professional development courses we get to attend, serving as a ground commander also provides valuable learning opportunities and develops my leadership skills.
“There are many opportunities for you to learn more and even experience what a profession in MINDEF/SAF is like. I strongly encourage all who are considering a MINDEF/SAF profession to find out more by speaking to our in-service officers,” MAJ Yap advises.