Bilateral exercise demonstrates U.S. commitment in the Asia-Pacific theater
Story and Photos by
Sgt. Robert England
2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Singaporean army soldiers received a hearty welcome to Hawaii during the opening ceremony for Tiger Balm 2012 at the Hawaii National Guard Training Institute in Waimanalo, July 10.
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, “Wolfhounds,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, as well as from the Oregon Army National Guard and the Hawaii Army National Guard, welcomed their counterparts.
The ceremony marked the start of Tiger Balm 2012, a bilateral exercise that strengthens the partnership between the U.S. and Singapore armies through combined training missions. The exercise is part of the U.S. Army-Pacific Theater Security Cooperation Program.
Tiger Balm promotes stability and security in the Pacific region while enhancing the two Armies’ interoperability.
The ceremony was comprised of remarks from Col. Ngian Sang Lee, chief of staff, 3rd Division, Singapore Armed Forces, and Brig. Gen. Gary Hara, land component commander, Hawaii Army National Guard.
“This exercise is significant not only in the bilateral relationship between Singapore and the U.S.; it is also a major milestone in the 24th Brigade’s history, as it marks the first overseas exercise undertaken by the brigade,” Lee said.
“The U.S. is a vital security and defense partner for Singapore and the Singapore Armed Forces,” Lee added. “Our defense relationship has strengthened since the signing of the Strategic Framework Agreement between our national leaders in July 2005.”
Tiger Balm 2012 consists of a brigade-level command post exercise and company-level field training. The 1st Bn., 27th Inf. Regt., and a company from the Singapore army will conduct infantry tactics, techniques and procedures, military operations on urban terrain, and lane training in counter-improvised explosive device operations.
“Exercise ‘Lightning Strike’ is the field training exercise with the 1st Bn., 27th Inf. Regt., and members of the Singapore armed forces,” Hara said. “They will progress with squad-, platoon- and company-level tasks, mounted and dismounted, on urban terrain through the Bellows Training Area complex.”
Tactical communication on the battlefield is critical to the success of any operation involving multiple military units, especially units from different countries. This exercise establishes solid working relationships between the militaries of both nations. It also demonstrates the U.S.’s commitment in the Asia-Pacific Theater.
“The professional exchange between U.S. and Singapore personnel of all operational experiences remains a critical part of this training event,” Hara said. “Based on our experience with past exercises, we have much to learn from each other, both militarily and culturally.”
Tiger Balm has been conducted annually since 1981, with the location of the exercise rotating based on the last digit of the year. Years ending in an odd number take place in Singapore, and years ending in even numbers occur in Hawaii.
Lee said that Tiger Balm is the oldest standing bilateral exercise in Singapore Armed Forces’ history and that it speaks volumes of the close ties between both armies, which continue to grow through the decades of changing global political landscape.