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This RSAF officer keeps Singapore's skies safe from potential terror threats

Major James Yong sees being part of the Republic of Singapore Air Force as a way for him to give back to the community.



By Bryant Chan

Major (MAJ) James Yong still remembers the first time he saw Singapore on the radar scope, when he was a junior officer with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).

Beneath his gaze, a dazzling array of blinking green lights dotted a vast expanse of blackness. It represented the air situational picture of the very nation he was standing in – a small island nation with limited airspace, yet crammed with constant traffic.

“It was such an unbelievable sight,” he recalls of the scene. “Surrounding us, so much movement – military and commercial, known and unknown, full of buzz and dynamism.”

That one striking moment indelibly impressed on him the importance of his role as an Air Warfare Officer (Air Battle Management) [AWO (ABM)]. He defends Singapore’s skies to keep them free of any suspicious aerial activities by conducting air surveillance and controlling fighter jet operations.

“Because of our country’s small size, we have a short reaction time to guard against Sept 11-type of threats and many other kinds of threats from the air,” he says.

“Thus, it is very important for us to do it right all the time, or else the consequences could be disastrous.”

And indeed, MAJ Yong feels privileged to have served as an AWO (ABM) on board the G550-Airborne Early Warning aircraft, and to have participated in both local operations and overseas exercises.

MAJ Yong’s sights had long been set on the public service, and the RSAF in particular, as a way for him to give back to the community and contribute meaningfully to the nation. He was also drawn to a military career due to his love for adventure, and knew that he would enjoy the close camaraderie working in the RSAF.

MAJ Yong currently serves as Branch Head in the Air Manpower Department, mapping out and fronting the RSAF’s manpower policies and projects. Most recently, this involved developing special manpower provisions to maintain servicemen’s morale and take care of their welfare while they continue defending Singapore’s skies during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

He is also designing the future workspace of the RSAF, by visualising how the RSAF should evolve with the needs of future generations. 

“It is an immense privilege to learn, grow and lead, as long as you are up to the challenge of being committed to working hard and doing your best in this scholarship and career journey,” he says.


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