The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) welcomed Rear-Admiral (RADM) Aaron Beng Yao Cheng as our new Chief of Defence Force (CDF) at a Change of Command Parade held at the SAFTI Military Institute this evening. At the same parade, the SAF thanked and bade farewell to the current Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General (LG) Melvyn Ong Su Kiat. Witnessed by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, RADM Beng received the command symbol from LG Ong. LG Ong also reviewed five Guard-of-Honours and the 12 marching contingents formed by service personnel from the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Digital and Intelligence Service.

Outgoing Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General (LG) Melvyn Ong handing over the command symbol to incoming Chief of Defence Force Rear-Admiral (RADM) Aaron Beng at the Change of Command Parade held at the SAFTI Military Institute.

RADM Beng, 41 joined the SAF in 2000 and has held several key appointments, including Commanding Officer of the Frigate Squadron, Director of the Defence Policy Office, Fleet Commander, Chief of Staff – Naval Staff and Chief of Navy (CNV). During his tenure as CNV, RADM Beng focused on enhancing the RSN’s operational readiness, capabilities and partnerships while prioritising the well-being of its people. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Singapore, he oversaw the development of robust measures to ensure the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN)’s readiness in safeguarding Singapore’s maritime sovereignty and security, while expanding Singapore’s defence policy space by having contactless exercises at sea and virtual engagements with defence partners. He also oversaw the safe conduct of the 7th International Maritime Security Conference, the first large-scale maritime conference held since the start of the pandemic.

LG Ong
LG Ong inspecting the Guard of Honour contingents.

Under RADM Beng’s leadership, the RSN also pursued organisational changes and capability development, which included the operationalisation of the Maritime Security and Response Flotilla; strengthening of the RSN’s Engineering and Logistics system; launch of the second and third Invincible-class submarines; and operationalisation of a Whole-of-Government sense-making system to improve inter-agency coordination at sea. In addition, RADM Beng led the inter-agency Crisis Management Group that deals with maritime security risks such as terrorist threats and oversaw maritime security operations during major national events such as our National Day celebrations and the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders’ Retreat 2022 in Bintan, Indonesia.

LG Ong was appointed as CDF on 23 Mar 2018 and has served the SAF with distinction. Under LG Ong’s leadership, the SAF enhanced Singapore’s peace and security. He led the SAF in several high-key security operations including the DPRK-US Singapore Summit and the 33rd ASEAN Summit. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, LG Ong led the SAF’s pandemic response and ensured the SAF maintained a high degree of operational readiness while minimising the risk of infections. In addition, he oversaw the formation of various SAF Task Forces, comprising more than 7,000 personnel, to support the Government’s COVID-19 operations. Under LG Ong’s stewardship, the SAF made significant progress in its next-generation transformation efforts. Notably, the establishment of the SAF’s fourth Service, the Digital and Intelligence Service, has set the path for the SAF to develop its capabilities in the digital battlespace, and to operate as a more integrated and networked SAF. Numerous new warfighting capabilities were also inducted into the SAF to enhance situational awareness with added lethality and flexibility. Beyond our shores, LG Ong strengthened defence relations and professional collaborations with foreign militaries, raising the SAF’s standing as a valuable defence partner. Under his charge, the SAF conducted several major humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations such as supporting airlift operations of Afghanistan evacuees in 2021. LG Ong also led the establishment of the Counter-Terrorism Information Facility which brings together partner nations to combat terrorism.

The change of command is part of the continuing process of leadership renewal in the SAF. The parade was attended by Senior Ministers of State Mr Heng Chee How and Mr Zaqy Mohamad, senior MINDEF and SAF officers, as well as the military diplomatic corps.

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