"Exercise Kocha Singa is an important event in our annual calendar. It underscores the special relationship between the Royal Thai Army (RTA) and the Singapore Army. Generations of Singapore soldiers have benefitted from the mutual exchange and interaction. These friendships continue to tie our Armies together," said Our Chief of Army, Major-General Goh Si Hou at the closing ceremony of Exercise Kocha Singa (XKS).
This year's XKS, a bilateral exercise which involved more than 700 troops from the 41st Battalion Singapore Armoured Regiment (41 SAR), Headquarters 8th Singapore Armoured Brigade and the 1st Infantry Battalion from the RTA's 14th Infantry Regiment, was absolutely jam-packed with activities. Follow me as I bring you through some of the highlights!
Breaking the Ice - Weapons Familiarisation @ KHC
A soldier from Our Army giving a brief to the RTA soldiers on the SAR 21 with M203 Grenade Launcher.
I made my way to Keat Hong Camp, nested in the heartlands of Choa Chu Kang. There, it all started with weapons familiarisation, where both armies engaged in professional exchanges.
The sharp clacks of the guns cocking reverberated through the air as soldiers tried their hands on the weapons featured by the respective armies. Soldiers from the RTA were given an introduction to the Ultimax 100 (also known as the Section Automatic Weapon), General-Purpose Machine Gun, as well as the SAF's standard issue, the Singapore Assault Rifle - 21st Century (SAR 21) and the SAR 21 with M203 Grenade Launcher. On the other hand, our soldiers also got to try out some of the RTA's weaponry.
The exchange allowed the soldiers to get familiarised with each other's weaponry, aiding in further understanding of the various weapon systems used by both armies. It was indeed interesting to see the soldiers break the ice over a shared mutual interest in firearms!
Fist to Fist - Muay Thai @ KHC
As dawn broke, some of the RTA soldiers bedazzled us with a Wai Khru ceremony, a dance usually performed before a Muay Thai fight. In this Thai ritual, students pay respect to their teachers to express their gratitude for the guidance they have received thus far. The expressiveness of the dancer really captivated us, with the dance serving as a physical manifestation of the tradition and culture behind Muay Thai.
New friends made!
Going through the basics of Muay Thai, the RTA soldiers led our soldiers in the chok (punching), ti khao (knee), sok (elbow), te (kick) and thip (foot-thrusting) techniques of the combat sport. Putting their newly-gained Muay Thai skills to the test, our soldiers also sparred with the RTA soldiers. With punches and kicks thrown passionately, it was a great opportunity for the soldiers to bond and interact with one another!
Split Second Matters- Basic Judgemental Shoot @ MMRC
On a rainy Friday, our soldiers hosted the RTA soldiers in a trip to the SAF's Multi-Mission Range Complex (MMRC). The MMRC, a three-storey live-firing training hub, allows for soldiers to further hone and sharpen their marksmanship competencies in an indoor setting.
RTA soldiers undergoing the Judgemental Shooting.
Here, the RTA soldiers were treated to a session of Judgemental Shooting. Reminiscent of the arcade game "Time Crisis", Judgemental Shooting provides soldiers with a realistic scenario and assesses their reflexes and ability to make quick judgements under pressure. The staggering speed and accuracy at which the soldiers were able to eliminate the targets on the screen certainly left us in awe.
Sitting in the viewing gallery as the shoot was under way, I could still hear the muffled "bangs" from the live rounds fired despite the thick layer of ballistic glass that separated me from the firing area. What an experience!
The Final Battle - Full Troop Exercise/Urban Objective Assault @ MUTF
Soldiers from both armies ready for action!
The day for the final battle, the Field Training Exercise (FTX) had arrived. As I arrived at the Murai Urban Training Facility (MUTF), the downcast sky eventually broke into a light drizzle. However, this did not dampen the mood of the soldiers, who were separated into teams consisting of both Our Army's and the RTA’s soldiers, for the joint battalion urban assault.
Fully geared up, the soldiers moved swiftly into position amidst the foliage, camouflaging themselves perfectly.
For a moment, time stood still as nobody moved a muscle. Then, all of a sudden, with the whistling of airstrikes, the attack commenced!
Soldiers planning their next move.
In the mission, the troops from Our Army and the RTA were tasked to infiltrate and gain control of a sector. With clockwork precision, they assaulted and cleared the buildings one by one, eventually capturing the whole sector. The high levels of teamwork and collaboration that the troops from both armies displayed did not leave us time to react, and before we knew it, they achieved mission success!
After all the buzz, we caught up with some of the exercise participants.
LCP Dean Chew, SAW gunner, 41 SAR
For LCP Dean Chew from 41 SAR, he was a SAW gunner in his team during the FTX. "My team had four RTA soldiers and I was able to interact and work with them very well during the FTX. I even got to understand and learn more from them about their fighting experiences, and it was really an eye-opener," he shared.
3SG Pavithran s/o Anbalagan, 41 SAR
3SG Pavithran s/o Anbalagan from 41 SAR also echoed such a sentiment, saying, "Despite the language barrier that existed between us, we were able to communicate effectively throughout the exercise using other means. This really speaks volumes of Our Army and RTA's ability to adapt and learn, which is something quite impressive."
LCP Nevin Wong from 41 SAR
"Overall, it was a fun and enriching experience," expressed LCP Nevin Wong from 41 SAR, who particularly enjoyed the Muay Thai lesson conducted by the RTA soldiers, "It was my first time learning martial arts, and I found out that it could be useful in many situations, such as in the case of close quarters combat in our drills."
Written by: LCP Teo Hao Yu
Photography by: PTE Gerald Ng