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Leading a family

He may be just 34, but Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Muhammad Helmi Khaswan has proven himself in many different appointments in his fastpaced career. He is now serving as the Commanding Offi cer (CO) of 4th Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment (4 SIR). He says: “I aspire to live up to the ideals and values of a military professional — to lead by example, demonstrate fighting spirit, courage and resilience in the face of challenges, and care for the people who trust me to lead.” LTC Helmi — who has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Philosophy in Advanced Chemical Engineering from Cambridge University — adds that he is pursuing his calling in life. He explains: “Even at a young age, I had always wanted to serve in the public service. “Given my background in sports and the potential I demonstrated in previous leadership appointments, my family and friends felt that a career in the SAF was the right fit for me. My parents were very proud when I was awarded the SAF Merit Scholarship.”

Armed and ready

For LTC Helmi, every day is filled with new and dynamic experiences as he carries out his duties. As the CO of 4 SIR, his main task is to bring together individuals from different backgrounds to form a cohesive and effective fighting unit. His responsibilities include setting the vision and direction for the unit, giving clear guidance in the conduct of key training and operational activities, and most importantly, inspiring his soldiers to become better individually and collectively. He adds: “Beyond producing an operationally capable fighting unit, being a good CO is about transmitting values to our soldiers so that they will go on to become good citizens, sons, husbands and fathers one day. I strongly believe in that.” LTC Helmi’s idea of a productive day in the unit is achieving objectives relating to both the mission and his soldiers. It is important that the unit achieves the desired training standards and innovates to exceed those standards. Beyond training for operational tasks, the unit must also always be ready to undertake tasks set by the SAF. However, it is just as crucial that his soldiers grow during their National Service (NS) experience. He says the most fulfilling aspect of his work as a CO is the opportunity to influence positive change in the lives of almost 600 soldiers in the battalion. “I had soldiers who had no clear indication about what the future held for them. However, through our conversations, we talked about their strengths and their ambitions in life. “I recall them saying that the tough NS experience taught them that anything was possible in life. Many eventually went on to pursue their higher education and dreams,” he shares. “It is important to note that in the military profession, the notion of ‘family’ extends to beyond our loved ones at home. The soldiers we lead, the peers and superiors that we serve with; I see them as an extension of my ‘family’. They are my loved ones too. “As such, I do not see my duties as work. I am always surrounded by my family,” he concludes.