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RADM Aaron Beng becomes first Navy chief to be appointed Singapore's Chief of Defence Force

RADM Aaron Beng becomes first Navy chief to be appointed Singapore's Chief of Defence Force

Rear-Admiral Aaron Beng (left) will replace Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong as Chief of Defence Force. (Photos: MINDEF, CNA/Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: Rear-Admiral (RADM) Aaron Beng Yao Cheng will take over from Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong Su Kiat as Chief of Defence Force (CDF) on Mar 24, becoming the first Chief of Navy to take the top role.

The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said on Wednesday (Feb 22) that RADM Sean Wat Jianwen, the Fleet Commander of the Republic of Singapore Navy, will take over as Chief of Navy on Mar 10.

These changes are part of the "continuing process of leadership renewal" in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), said MINDEF.

RADM Beng, 41, joined the SAF in 2000. Prior to his appointment as Chief of Navy in March 2020, he held other appointments in MINDEF and the SAF, including Commanding Officer of the Formidable-class frigate RSS Intrepid, Commanding Officer of the Frigate Squadron, Director of the Defence Policy Office, Fleet Commander, and Chief of Staff – Naval Staff.

Under his leadership, the Navy pursued organisational changes and capability development to prepare for the future, said MINDEF.

He was involved in the operationalisation of a whole-of-Government system to improve interagency security coordination at sea, and led the Crisis Management Group that deals with security risks such as terrorist threats.

RADM Beng also oversaw maritime security operations during major national events such as National Day celebrations and the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders' Retreat 2022 in Bintan.

He steered the Navy through the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to safeguard Singapore’s sovereignty and security, said the Defence Ministry.

"Under RADM Beng’s leadership, the RSN furthered Singapore’s defence policy space during the pandemic through COVID-19 safe exercises at sea, virtual engagements with defence partners, and safe conduct of the 7th International Maritime Security Conference, the first large-scale maritime conference held since the start of the pandemic," it added.

Incoming Navy chief RADM Wat, 39, joined the SAF in 2002. 

He has held several appointments, including as Commanding Officer of the Formidable-class frigate RSS Supreme, Deputy Commander of Maritime Security Task Force/Maritime Security Command, Director of the Defence Policy Office, and Fleet Commander.


MINDEF expressed its "deep appreciation" for the outgoing LG Ong, 47, and his "sterling leadership and outstanding contributions" to the SAF. He will continue to work in the public service after he steps down.

LG Ong took over as CDF on Mar 23, 2018. During his time in the top role, he led the SAF in high-key security operations, including the North Korea-US Singapore Summit and the 33rd ASEAN Summit in 2018.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, LG Ong led the SAF's pandemic response, including the formation of various task forces to support the Government's COVID-19 operations.

These included supporting contact tracing, stabilising the outbreak in migrant worker dormitories, and scaling up the national home recovery programme.

Under LG Ong’s stewardship, the SAF increased the pace of its transformation efforts and made significant progress in several areas, said the ministry, noting "key structural shifts" initiated to enable the SAF to operate in a rapidly changing operational environment.

This included the establishment of SAF's fourth service, the Digital and Intelligence Service. 

"Beyond our shores, LG Ong has been instrumental in fostering good defence relations and professional collaborations with foreign militaries, raising the SAF's international standing and positioning it as a valuable defence partner regionally and internationally," said MINDEF.

Source: CNA/nh/ic


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