Story and photo by
Sgt. Robert England
2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — With the national defense focus for the U.S. military shifting back to the Pacific region, units in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, have been working alongside strategic partners in India, New Zealand, Australia and now, Singapore.
Tiger Balm 2012 is an annual U.S. Army-Pacific Theater Security Cooperation Program combined training exercise between the U.S. and Singapore Armies with the intent of strengthening the partnership between the two militaries through training.
Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, “Wolfhounds,” 2nd BCT, 25th ID, and those from the 5th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment, participated in field training operations, known as “Lightning Strike,” July 9-20.
Lt. Col. Todd Fox, commander, 1st Bn., 27th Inf. Regt., 2nd BCT 25th ID,said the combined training began with familiarization for both armies on each other’s weapons.
The two units then moved from the team-level to squad-, platoon- and company-level exercises, alternating between commanders from the U.S. and Singapore to familiarize themselves with each military’s tactics, techniques and procedures.
“At the platoon-level, we conducted military operations on urban terrain with simulated civilians on the battlefield,” Fox said. “The final stage was company-level operations, which was more combined or integrated, with U.S. and Singaporean platoons operating under a U.S. commander in the morning and a Singaporean commander in the afternoon.”
Combined training operations between the countries not only strengthens the ties between the two militaries, but also contributes to increased stability and security in the Pacific region, said Capt. Zishan Amir, commander, Company A, 5th Bn., SIR.
“Lightning Strike is just one of many bilateral exercises that the Singapore army has with the U.S. Army, and essentially it allows us to forge a better relationship,” Amir said. “I think that’s just better for the region as a whole.”
Amir added the combined training during Tiger Balm and Lightning Strike has strengthened the relationship between Soldiers from the two Armies on a more personal level.
“What it has done for us is we got to know how the U.S. Army operates and for us to show them how we operate,” Amir said. “Apart from training, we also had a lot of cohesion activities such as daily physical training, and that just builds on the camaraderie.”
Fox also said that Operation Lightning Strike has provided the Wolfhound Soldiers their first opportunity to work with the Singaporean army, exposing them to different operating procedures as well as a new culture.
“The best part has just been watching (Soldiers) learn from each other,” Fox said.
“Initially I think there was a little bit of apprehension as Soldiers work with soldiers from another army, trying to gauge where they are on their ability levels and how they do things. Then, in a matter of a couple days they realized that armies are armies and they have the same challenges we do. It’s been very interesting to watch them share in the building and learning process and growing together.
“The thing to remember is that the Singaporean soldiers are just like our Soldiers,” Fox added. “We have the same challenges, the same capabilities, we just view problems a little differently, and that’s what really increases the value of training events like these; we get to see another perspective, take a different approach and often times we learn a new way to do things that is more effective or more efficient than what we’re currently doing.”
With Tiger Balm 2012 under their belts, both the Wolfhounds and the Singaporean soldiers can take their experiences and apply what they learned from each other to future operations, strengthening security throughout the Pacific region.