“T he notion of defending our country with honour requires alignment of values to a purpose greater than that of one’s own.” These are empowering words by MAJ Muhammad Helmi to our next generation of soldiers, having been inspired by his commanders at the Officer Cadet School (OCS) when he was a National Serviceman.
MAJ Helmi grew with the Army as an Infantry Officer by vocation, holding a Platoon Commander appointment in 1 SIR, Platoon Commander (Trainer) Appointment in OCS, and Officer Commanding in 4 SIR. Thereafter, he assumed the position as the Head of Training Plans Section in G6 Army, where he developed training models and managed resource allocation to support the Army Training System.
Today, MAJ Helmi is undergoing a course at the US Marine Corps Command and Staff College. Highlighting SAF’s emphasis on developing its people, MAJ Helmi shares, “My exposure here has allowed me to understand issues the SAF faces at the strategic level, and strengthen my ability to plan and execute combat operations.”
MAJ Muhammad Helmi Bin Khaswan
Recipient of the SAF Merit Scholarship
Currently on course at the US Marine Corps Command and Staff College
Previously Head of the Training Plans Section, G6 Army
Forming Critical Awareness
MAJ Helmi did his undergraduate and graduate degrees in the US and the UK respectively, where he had opportunities to observe the differences between the various socio-political systems.
The overseas exposure widened his perspectives on global politics and allowed him to understand the importance of not blindly adopting the ways of others in developing Singapore’s own policies. “Each country has its own unique challenges, and as leaders, it’s important to listen and be clear when outlining visions for the future,” MAJ Helmi tells us.
The leadership skills he honed in university certainly stood him in good stead in the Army. He recounts experiences when his men had difficulty coping with harsh terrain during overseas trainings, and had to be evacuated to seek medical attention. “It was in such moments when I felt my leadership abilities were truly tested. I had to make difficult decisions in order not to compromise on our high training standards and operational effectiveness. But most importantly, the soldiers under my command must return home safely to their families,” he recalls.
It was also then that he realised how important it was to rigorously train soldiers during peacetime, so that unnecessary loss of lives can be prevented in times of war. He shares his experience on his unit’s training evaluation, “I sought to progressively strengthen my men in terms of combat fitness and mental resilience. After all, the greatest test of a unit’s character is in how steadily we pick ourselves up after a setback, and to become stronger at the end of it.”
MAJ Helmi adds that individuals who choose to become soldiers must always remember their duty to protect Singapore and their loved ones. He concludes, “One should see that the SAF profession requires not just physical courage, but moral judgment to do what is right and worthwhile. But more importantly, a profession in the SAF requires one to always place the interests of the country and its citizens above that of one’s own.”