Soldiers from the Singapore Army and the United States (US) Army are training together in a simulated environment. Suddenly, enemy forces strike. Singapore and US are tasked to form a combined task force to take out the aggressors.
This was the scenario that played out at the 39th Exercise Tiger Balm, the longest-running bilateral exercise between the Singapore and US armies.
For the first time, the exercise saw a coordinated response to Improvised Explosive Device scenarios such as bombs and booby traps. This involved an integrated team of personnel from the 36th Battalion Singapore Combat Engineers and the U.S. Army's 303rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Battalion.
Exercise Tiger Balm, an annual brigade-level exercise, is being held from 8 to 19 Jul in Singapore.
It involved about 800 soldiers from both armies, comprising personnel from the 76th Singapore Infantry Brigade and 5th Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment, as well as the US Army's 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT), 2-130th Infantry Battalion and 1-23 Stryker Platoon.
The exercise culminated in an integrated urban operations assault at the Murai Urban Training Facility (MUTF) today. In the two-day field training exercise, a composite battalion made out of US and Singapore troopers stormed and took over an enemy-occupied urban area.
They were supported by the combined EOD team as well as the Singapore Armed Forces' STrike ObserveRs Mission or STORM team and the US' Fire Support Team.
Light infantry section commander, 3rd Sergeant (3SG) Harith Afiq Bin Azman, whose platoon worked with a platoon from the US Army's 33rd IBCT, said that both sides worked hand-in-hand to secure the objectives.
"The (US soldiers) were really experienced and smooth in their room-clearing drills… I can tell that it comes from their combat experience," said the 23-year-old.
Similarly, Sergeant (SGT) David Mayle, 23, from the 1-23 Stryker Platoon noted that the troops were quick and effective during the exercise.
"When our Stryker (combat vehicles) pulled up to do suppressive fire…the infantry teams had already cleared the area and they were moving ‘wounded casualties' out," he said.
For the exercise, all weapons, soldiers, vehicles as well as buildings in MUTF were fitted with laser tags so that commanders in the Command Post could have a visual of the situation on the ground.
This also helped them in reviewing where the enemy was taken down, and where most casualties were lost.
Said Hawaii Army National Guard Chief of Staff, Colonel Stephen Logan: "This is a very advanced urban training centre and we are very fortunate to participate in this exercise in the years past… It offers a great opportunity as we combine the Singapore and the US Armed Forces to participate together."
In the lead-up to the urban assault exercise, soldiers from both armies took part in knowledge and skillset sharing sessions which involved the Singapore soldiers training on the Stryker and the US soldiers training on the Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles (ICVs).
A Jungle Survival package was also conducted for the US troops.
Conducted for the first time in 1981, Exercise Tiger Balm is the Singapore Army's longest-standing bilateral exercise with a foreign army.