The Singapore Army and the United States (US) Army successfully conducted an integrated urban operations exercise at the Murai Urban Training Facility (MUTF) today, as part of Exercise Tiger Balm 2019.
The brigade-level exercise, which started on 8 July and will end on 19 July, involved approximately 766 personnel from the 76th Singapore Infantry Brigade and 5th Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment (5 SIR), and the US Army's 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2-130th Infantry Battalion (2-130 IN), and 1-23 Stryker Platoon.
During the exercise, 1-23 Stryker Platoon operated with the US' Stryker Combat Vehicles while 5 SIR and 2-130 IN operated with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)'s Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles. Operating together under the ambit of a Combined Task Force, the exercise troops performed mounted and dismounted actions onto the enemy's objective, before a final assault within MUTF to secure the area of operations.
The exercise was supported by the SAF's STrike ObserveR Mission (STORM) team and the US Army's Fire Support Team (FiST) which provided real-time target surveillance and acquisition support. For the first time, an integrated Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team from the SAF's 36th Battalion Singapore Combat Engineers and US Army's 303rd EOD Battalion also planned and coordinated responses to improvised explosive device scenarios.
Speaking on the significance of this exercise, Commander, 6th Singapore Division Brigadier-General (BG) Lee Yi-Jin said, "Exercise Tiger Balm is an annual bilateral exercise that we do between the Singapore Army and the US Army, and we have been doing this since 1981. 39 years incidentally makes it the longest-standing bilateral exercise that the Singapore Army has, with anybody. I think that, in itself, says something about the relationship that we have – it is an excellent relationship… It is built on professionalism, mutual trust… I think it is not common that two armies can operate like this so comfortably at the various echelons. I think it takes a lot of trust and it takes a lot of confidence in each other… I think it is something that we built up over many years and we are very happy with this exercise."
Hawaii Army National Guard Chief of Staff, Colonel (COL) Stephen Logan also said, "For 39 years this exercise has been ongoing between our great nations, and we not only share our knowledge, our expertise, and our skill-sets but we have built some lifelong friendships here. I think the hardest part for the US forces will be when they have to board the plane and then go home because of those friendships that they have built."
BG Lee and The Adjutant General Illinois National Guard (TAG ILNG), BG Richard R.Neely will co-officiate at the closing ceremony of Exercise Tiger Balm at Mandai Hill Camp on 19 July.
Exercise Tiger Balm was first conducted in 1981 and is the longest-running bilateral exercise between the Singapore Army and US Army. This annual exercise allows both armies to collaborate and share tactics, techniques and procedures, and is the hallmark of excellent and long-standing ties between both armed forces.
Apart from this exercise, both armies also interact extensively through professional exchange programs, cross-attendance of courses, and bilateral and multilateral exercises. These interactions have enhanced the professionalism, and built friendships and mutual understanding between the personnel from both armies.