2WO Chan Wei Xiong Roger, ensures the discipline and development of the frogman trainees in his role as the Wing Sergeant Major at the Naval Diving Unit's Frogman School.
The men from the Naval Diving Unit (NDU) are well-known for being one of the toughest and fittest in the Singapore Armed Forces. As the elite force of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), the Naval Divers are adept in the sea, on land and in the air to conduct highly specialised maritime special operations including maritime explosive ordnance disposal, underwater threat clearance and ship-boarding operations.
A few years ago, the general public caught a glimpse of what life is like in the NDU when the unit was featured in the movie "Ah Boys to Men 3: Frogmen". To get an in-depth perspective of the NDU and what it takes to be a "Warrior of the Deep", we spoke with Second Warrant Officer (2WO) Chan Wei Xiong Roger, Wing Sergeant Major at the famed Frogman School.
How did you become interested in a military career?
When I was in Secondary School, I was a Staff Sergeant in the National Cadet Corps. From there, I developed a strong interest in the uniformed groups, which then motivated me to pursue a military career eventually.
The NDU is certainly not for everyone. What made you decide to sign on with the elite unit?
During my Combat Diver Course, I heard many interesting stories from my instructors, who had been involved in many tasks and operations, and I wanted to be part of it. As time went by, I developed a love for diving and learnt how this purposeful career contributes to the defence of our nation. That was when I decided to be part of the Navy family.
Tell us about your career with the NDU so far.
I was previously a diver in the Clearance Diving Unit. As a Clearance Diver, my team was responsible for maritime explosive ordnance disposal operations, so that Singapore's vital sea lanes are kept clear of underwater threats.
I am currently the Wing Sergeant Major of the Frogman School and my duty is to ensure the discipline and the development of the diver trainees, taking care of their mental and physical well-being while they undergo the intensive trainings.
What do you find fulfilling in your everyday work?
The sense of pride that I get from knowing that I am playing a part in contributing to the maritime defence of the nation that I love.
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How did you overcome challenges in your work?
As we progress in rank and appointment, we are assigned with greater responsibilities which challenge us to constantly improve ourselves. The RSN always prepares us for our next appointment by sending us for professional courses and training. In addition, we can always count on our Navy family for support. Our seniors are always there to guide us through any difficulty and mentor us to become better soldiers.
It looks like you have a very closely-knit culture in the RSN. Can you tell us more?
Definitely! We work very closely with one another in the Navy family. Regardless if you are a naval officer, engineer, military expert or naval diver, we treat each other like family members. We are always willing to help and be there for one another when we face difficulties in our work or personal life.
The RSN also has a strong innovation culture which encourages us to be creative and innovative in improving the current systems and processes as well as keep up with the latest technological trends. I truly appreciate how the organisation allows us to share our creative ideas freely and supports us in making them a reality.
What career development opportunities are there in the RSN?
The RSN has offered me many professional development opportunities. For instance, I was given the chance to attend the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Course in Florida, United States, in 2016. The course not only allowed me to learn more about EOD, but also to experience many different cultures through interactions with my classmates from various countries.
Apart from professional development, the RSN develops its people in areas such as leadership and interpersonal skills. The RSN regularly sends us for personal development courses, grooming us into all-rounded individuals.
How has the RSN helped you to grow as a person?
From being a naval diver to taking charge of the entire dive team, I have been groomed to become a stronger person and a better leader. The journey was not smooth sailing, but the experience and "grinding" over the years were definitely worth it.
What do you hope to achieve in the RSN?
I hope to be a mentor who can inspire and impart knowledge to the younger divers. I also hope to educate them on the importance of keeping our seas safe and secure, and how they can play a role in contributing to the maritime defence of our nation.
What would you say to someone considering a job at RSN?
If you are a team player, a leader and someone who loves adventure, look no further. As what the Navy always says, join the Navy and see the world. Challenge yourself and go beyond your horizons.