Inspired by his parents and spurred by a sense of duty, LTA Dev S/O Subramaniam’s policy work is helping to leave a lasting impact for future NSFs.
TEXT: KEENAN PEREIRA
PHOTOS: LTA DEV SUBRAMANIAM
The audience at the 25th Rota Commander Course (RCC) Commissioning Ceremony was decked out in a sea of colours. But one audience member stood out in his well-starched No. 3 uniform: 1WO Subramaniam of the Republic of Singapore Air Force beamed with pride as he watched his 20-year-old son Dev become a commissioned officer of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
Two months on, LTA Dev still remembers the day vividly. “Tears welled up in my eyes as my dad buttoned the Lieutenant epaulette on my shoulder,” he recalls. “I became more emotional when he saluted me.” The moment was even more special since 1WO Subra had once challenged LTA Dev before his enlistment to the SCDF. “He challenged me to get selected for the RCC course when it didn’t seem likely that I would, since my PES (Physical Employment Standard) status then was B2.”
An NSF’s PES status is assigned based on their medical condition. It is one of the considerations that determines their vocation during NS.
OVERCOMING THE FITNESS BARRIER
LTA Dev overcame the fitness hurdle, determined to do his best. “Being an only child, I’m very close to my parents; I owe a lot to them,” he explains. His mother gave up a career as a legal secretary for one in the real estate sector. This gave her the flexible hours she needed so she could care for him while his father served in the Republic of Singapore Air Force for the past 33 years. It’s from the latter that LTA Dev gets his fierce patriotism and determination to excel. “My mother has also been a tremendous cheerleader through it all.”
Their support was crucial during the RCC – a rigorous, seven-month programme designed to inculcate critical leadership qualities and lifesaving skills in SCDF officers who will take on frontline duties. LTA Dev remembers booking out exhausted, both mentally and physically. During those times, his parents’ unwavering confidence in him kept him going. “They would say: ‘If there’s anyone who can do it, it’s you’.”
FINDING HIS CALLING
Over his two years in the Force, LTA Dev has attended many other courses, from the Section Commander Course to the Fire Fighting Course. But he maintains that the RCC is the most enjoyable. “Each training course has a unique focus: The Fire Fighting Course naturally focuses on the hands-on aspect of civil defence, while the Section Commander Course emphasises on leadership.” LTA Dev enjoyed the RCC’s emphasis on seeing the bigger picture and public presentation skills. “I also loved that we were training with different people, including female officers and regulars. The experience taught me how to interact with people from all backgrounds.”
Those lessons come in handy in his present role in the Office of the Director of the Civil Defence Academy (CDA), where he works closely with the facility’s director, AC Alan Chow. LTA Dev supports the unit when it hosts visits from foreign delegations, most recently from Brunei and Japan. He also helps with training audits and works closely with the CDA’s discipline and safety branches.
LEAVING A LASTING LEGACY
Does he miss being at the frontline? “Many people have asked me that before and I definitely miss the thrill of lugging a 64mm-diameter hose up a stairwell or scaling the side of Marina Bay Sands,” he shares. “But since young, I’ve been very drawn to administrative work, so I am passionate about my current role.”
This passion also stems from being able to see the impact of his work. “While you’re leading a section or supporting operations, your ability to make an impact is limited to those immediately around you. But supporting the policy work of the CDA allows me to leave a lasting legacy,” he says, referring to his current efforts to improve the code of conduct for instructors in the Academy.
LTA Dev is in the final stretch of his NS journey. Within the next year, he’ll be an undergraduate at the National University of Singapore, working towards a law degree. The four-year programme will likely challenge him, but LTA Dev is sure that no matter how hard things get, he’ll be able to count on his family for support and motivation.
“They’re my everything!” he says.
When the going gets tough, LTA Dev advises fellow Home Team NSmen to think about their motivations for wanting to succeed. “I wanted to finish RCC more than I wanted anything else and that boosted my morale.”