"In today's world, if we were to be called into operations, it would likely be as a part of a multinational taskforce alongside our international partners", said BG Seet Uei Lim, Chief Guards Officer, to participants of Exercise Cobra Gold prior to the commencement of the exercise. "As such, I urge each and every one of you to develop yourselves professionally as part of a combined task force, both for future collaboration and in your respective domains of expertise."
Held from 24 Feb to 6 Mar in Phitsanulok, Thailand, Exercise Cobra Gold comprised a Command Post Exercise (CPX), an Engineer Civic Assistance Program (ENCAP), a Cyber exercise and a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise. Co-hosted by Thailand and the United States (US), the militaries of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Japan took part in Exercise Cobra Gold.
BG Seet Uei Lim, Chief Guards Officer, engaging the exercise participants.
As part of the CPX, a multinational force (MNF) was created to accomplish a fictitious mission. The headquarters of the MNF comprised functional cells that ranged from manpower to civil-military operations. Our Army held several key appointments in the MNF, including its Assistant Commander and the Head of Logistics Cell.
Leading the Logistics Cell
As the director of the MNF Logistics Cell, ME7 Chong Wah Heng, Head Integrated Systems Engineering Group / Tracks Systems Centre from Headquarters, Maintenance and Engineering Support, was tasked with leading a multinational team in planning and executing operational level logistics for the MNF forces as part of the CPX.
"It was interesting to observe how our plans had an impact on the social, economic and political dimensions, both locally and internationally. Everybody came together to learn, share and make friends, making it a very insightful and pleasant experience overall." Sharing his greatest takeaway from the exercise, ME7 Chong said, "it was us coming together as strangers, and at the end of the two weeks, reluctantly leaving as great friends."
ME7 Chong Wah Heng (right) receiving a token of appreciation from the MNF Commander.
Watch Chief at the Nerve Centre
1WO Vinod Kumar, Warrant Officer, Operations / Training Coordination, Headquarters, Guards, served as the Watch Chief at the Current Operations Centre during the CPX. This role saw him partnering the Watch Officer at the Nerve Centre to piece together developments from the various entities in making sense of the battlefield.
"Participants from the various countries brought with them different ways of doing things and it was enriching to exchange views of how we operate. Personally, my most memorable experience was the opportunity to put together a brief on the significant events of the day and presenting that to the Singapore, Thailand and US generals along with the leads from the various cells."
1WO Vinod (right) during an update to the generals.
Advance and Overcome!
As part of the exercise, participants from various countries chipped in their time and effort to build a multi-purpose building for the local community. As the lead for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) ENCAP team, CPT Aloysius Chan, 2nd-In-Charge (2IC), Construction Engineer Company, Army Combat Engineers Group, shared how this experience brought together members of the different armies.
"We encountered several challenges such as delay in the delivery of raw materials required for construction of the building. However, with close teamwork between members of the SAF, Royal Thai Armed Forces and the US Army, we were able to overcome the challenges and completed the project on time. We also had a very enjoyable and fruitful working experience despite the language barrier."
Soldiers plastering the wall.
Singapore Ambassador to Thailand, His Excellency Mr Kevin Cheok, represented Singapore at the ENCAP dedication ceremony on 5 Mar 20.
As mission lead for the SAF Cyber Team, CPT Adriel Chen from the Cyber Defence Group shared about his contributions in establishing a common MNF Standard Operating Procedure for cyber defence during the exercise.
"The highlight was to have the SAF team recognized by the Opposition Force (OPFOR) for their excellent performance. The OPFOR comprised cyber professionals who had worked on similar exercises with MNCs in the Silicon Valley. Overall, the exercise was an overwhelmingly positive experience that set a strong foundation for cooperation in future multinational cyber operations."
As Exercise Cobra Gold came to a close, participants commonly cited professional development and strong bonds forged between the SAF and participants from other armies as some of the greatest takeaways.
Exercise Cobra Gold CPX Team
Written by: CPT Lim Zhi Xian