SAF gets its first female general

SAF gets its first female general

SINGAPORE - Colonel Gan Siow Huang has smashed the "brass ceiling" to become the first female general in the Singapore Armed Forces.

The 40-year-old was among seven who headed the SAF's annual promotion list, receiving their first star on Friday as they moved up to the rank of Brigadier-General or Rear-Admiral.

The other six were: Colonel Lam Sheau Kai and Colonel Kenneth Liow from the Army; the Republic of Singapore Navy's Colonel Lew Chuen Hong and Colonel Frederick Chew; the Republic of Singapore Air Force's Colonel Kelvin Khong; and the Military Security Department's Colonel Paul Chew.

With that, they ascended to the top echelons of SAF, which will now have more than 20 generals or admirals.

Colonel Gan, one of four women who were the first to receive the SAF Merit Scholarship in 1993, said it had been a "tough journey" rising through the ranks in the last 22 years fraught with tough choices between career progression and family.

"I think it's about managing priorities, knowing what you really want...but with each choice, I accept the outcomes," said Col Gan, who served in numerous appointments such as commander of the RSAF's 203 squadron, and Air Surveillance and Control Group. Now the head of SAF's joint manpower department, she will take over as RSAF's head of air intelligence and director (Special Projects) next month.

Besides paying tribute to her supportive colleagues and bosses, Col Gan said strong family support was "absolutely critical" while she pursued her career.

The mother of three girls, aged 3, 8 and 12, said her parents-in-law as well as her husband, who left the the navy for the private sector in 2006, help take care of the children while she is at work.

In all, 413 officers, 74 military experts and 34 warrant officers from all three branches of the military earned promotions. Comprising regulars and operationally-ready national servicmen (NSmen), they were presented with their certificates at a ceremony at the Defence Ministry on Friday.

They will wear their new ranks from SAF Day on Wednesday, when the promotions take effect.

This article was first published on June 26, 2015.
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