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Cadets commissioned as SAF officers mark milestone with loved ones, a first since Covid-19 pandemic

SINGAPORE – As Second Lieutenant (2LT) Avdhoot Nilesh Fuke stood at attention in a ceremony at Safti Military Institute on Wednesday (Dec 8), his father was invited to affix his new epaulettes on him, marking his new rank as a military officer.

This ritual, which had been disrupted due to Covid-19 restrictions that kept invited guests away from the Singapore Armed Forces’ graduation parades, resumed on Wednesday for the first time since March 2020.

2LT Avdhoot, 18, a motorised infantry officer, said this was especially meaningful to him as the previous few batches could not have their loved ones witness the ceremony.

“Even though it’s just the ceremony and not the parade, having my father there definitely made a difference, especially because of (my parents’) support for me throughout the journey of this course,” the full-time national serviceman told reporters in an interview on Tuesday.

2LT Avdhoot is among the 395 cadets to be commissioned as officers after having completed their 38-week training.

The cadets will receive their ceremonial swords and letters of appointment at nine small-scale commissioning ceremonies organised at the formation level from Wednesday to Friday.

Each cadet can invite two guests. Each guest must be fully vaccinated and show a negative pre-event test result.

The ceremonies are also staggered to minimise cross interactions between servicemen and guests, and common areas will be sanitised between each session.

The ceremonies will also be live-streamed on the Officer Cadet School’s (OCS) Facebook page.

In a pre-recorded speech, President Halimah Yacob noted how the SAF stepped up to ease the strain on the healthcare system by supporting the Covid-19 treatment facilities and the home recovery programme.

She said: “Our collective effort has enabled us all to gather here physically, witnessing your sons’ and daughters’ commissioning. This is a step towards the resumption of large-scale physical events as the national situation stabilises.”

OCS instructors and trainees have adjusted to the “new normal” by operating in smaller groups, and training previously done abroad has been completed locally, she added.

“For the graduands in particular, you have been challenged on various fronts, from managing training at functional group level to continuously adapting to the changing Covid-19 situation… Most importantly, it has taught you to remain resilient in the face of adversity,” Madam Halimah said.


President Halimah Yacob speaks at the commissioning ceremony in a recorded video message, on Dec 8, 2021. PHOTO: MINDEF

2LT Avdhoot said he appreciated the training even though it was conducted in smaller groups due to Covid-19.

Recalling a defence mission during heavy rain, he said: “Even though it was raining, my platoon did not let our morale go down – we were singing and laughing…

“(Despite the smaller group training), it has built resilience and camaraderie between my platoon and section, so I’m quite grateful for that.”


2LT Avdhoot Nilesh Fuke having his rank affixed by his father at the commissioning ceremony on Dec 8, 2021. PHOTO: MINDEF

OCT Muhammad A’qil Mohd Khalid, 19, said he was grateful his family was invited to his ceremony on Friday as they were an important pillar of support for him.

The combat engineer officer added that he initially was not very motivated to be in OCS, but was inspired by his commanders in basic military training.

“I observed how commanders work; how they managed to motivate us to do our best. I saw myself wanting to embody that kind of role – that’s when I started to grow a willingness to be in command school,” added the full-time national serviceman.

Sword of Merit recipient Joey Zhang, 19, a regular naval officer, said that her commissioning would feel more complete with her parents attending the ceremony on Friday.

She said: “Now, I have gone full cycle – my parents supported me throughout this journey, and now I can say I can start my job. It’s because of what my parents kick-started in me.”

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