Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Muhammad Helmi has two families.
The first is his family bound by blood; the one that loves and supports him unconditionally, even when his profession requires him to be away from them, for prolonged durations at times.
The other is his family bound by brotherhood; the one he was sworn into when he enlisted in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).As the Commanding Officer (CO) of the 4th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (4 SIR), he relishes the responsibility for the training and well-being of almost 600 soldiers.
No two days are ever alike: LTC Helmi’s experiences range from leading men in physical training, orchestrating complex manoeuvres in harsh jungle terrain; keeping the men sharp and ready for operational duties.
Beyond the daily grind of soldiering, he has also led the unit to organise large-scale operations such as the ASEAN Defence Senior Official’s Meeting and National Day Parade.
But the best part of his job is being able to exert a positive influence on his soldiers. Even witnessing small changes like his soldiers learning to care about one another’s welfare before their own fills the 35-year-old with pride.
The 4 SIR command team collectively believe in their shared vision of not just producing a fighting unit of operationally capable soldiers, but also to imbue them with values that will make them good citizens, sons, husbands and fathers.
LTC Helmi stresses: “The military profession is one that is bound by duty; a yearning to serve the nation and to defend this island of ours and our loved ones at all costs.
“I believe strongly in that notion. Each day, we must endeavour to realise that vision.”
Becoming a regular in the SAF was LTC Helmi’s way of answering a calling that he had since young — that of joining the public service.
With the SAF Merit Scholarship, he pursued a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the United States, and later a Master of Philosophy in Advanced Chemical Engineering at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.
Since his return to the SAF, he was rotated through a number of appointments — including Platoon Commander in Officer Cadet School, Officer Commanding in 4 SIR, and Head of Training Plans in Army Headquarters — before enrolling in a one-year Master’s programme at the US Marine Corps Command and Staff College in the Marine Corps University.
With his Master of Military Studies in hand, he returned to 4 SIR as its CO, with an even stronger sense of his mission.
He says: “As a recipient of the SAF Merit Scholarship, I must embody the ideals and values of a military professional — to lead by example, to demonstrate fighting spirit, courage and resilience in the face of challenges, to care for the people I lead, and to transmit these values to them.”
“The soldiers we lead, the peers and superiors we work with — I see them as an extension of my family,” says LTC Helmi. “As such, I do not see my duties as work; I am always surrounded by my family.”
And who would not want the best forhis family?