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NEWS | June 12, 2023

Through Shared Culture, Soldiers Build Interoperability, Teamwork

By Joe Lacdan Army News Service

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- With his face still covered in green and black camouflage, Lt. Col. David Forsha sat back in his chair at his office on a mild May afternoon.

Hours earlier on May 17, the 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment commander led two squadrons of Soldiers through Tiger Balm, the longest standing bi-lateral exercise between the U.S. and Singaporean Armies dating back to the Cold War era.

Exhaustion from a two-week, field training event couldn’t dampen his enthusiasm on the lessons taken from collaboration with the Singaporean army.

During the exercise, about 250 U.S. and Singaporean troops engaged in a combined arms, live fire that included three ground reconnaissance and maneuver units.

Additionally, another 400 participants from the Tennessee and Hawaii National Guard, the 6th Singapore Division and the 10th Singapore Infantry Brigade took part in a brigade-level command post exercise, according to a press release by the Singapore Ministry of Defence.

“[Tiger Balm] just reinforced the awesome opportunity that we get here in Hawaii of partnering with different nations and building relationships,” Forsha said. “For young Soldiers, they don't always understand the gravity of it.”

Forsha saw his 25th Infantry Division Soldiers bonding with Singapore troops in their training and preparation during the 42nd iteration of Tiger Balm, a component of the Operation Pathways series of exercises. The Singapore Armed Forces Soldiers impressed Forsha with their level of preparation and ability to navigate in jungle environments.

“I think anytime you have the opportunity for two countries to work together, it increases interoperability,” Forsha said. “I think at the lowest level, it's relationship building. And we're also building readiness.”

Just 15 months into his military career, Private 2nd Class Ian Ciocca said working with Singaporean Soldiers gave him the rare opportunity to learn about SAF weapons systems.

During Tiger Balm, the 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry rifleman practiced using rope to ascend and descend in jungle terrain and studied how to tactically cross over rivers. He added that the exercise challenged him mentally and physically.

“[Tiger Balm] emphasized the importance of physical fitness and communication when conducting operations during exercises,” Ciocca said.

Since 1981, the two nations have engaged in the joint exercise in locations that include Jalan Murai, Singapore, and, this year at Schofield’s training areas.

“They don't just show up and take things for granted,” said Forsha, who took part in the 2021 virtual Tiger Balm. “They're very disciplined. They're a motorized platoon traditionally, so they have some TTPs; tactics, techniques, procedures, that we don't, and I think that my guys can take advantage of how they kind of prepare and execute training on their trucks.”

In 2022, the exercise returned once again to live drills and war games after the two nations engaged in a virtual version of the exercise in 2021. Pandemic restrictions forced the cancellation of the 2020 Tiger Balm.

For the first week of the 2023 iteration, 2-14th Cavalry Soldiers travelled to Schofield’s East Range near the Oahu suburb of Mililani Mauka where they trained in a dense jungle terrain.

On the first day of the live fire exercise May 16, the Soldiers went through a “sight unseen” simulation where trainers place them in battle scenario with unknown conditions.

“They don't know where the enemy is at. They don't know what the terrain looks like,” Forsha said. “And so they had to kind of react and make tactical decisions on the ground.”

During the exercise, an information intelligence identified a platoon-sized force, which prompted the squadron level to launch an air and artillery simulated attack to strike what the unit considers high- value targets. Then the squadron breached and suppressed an obstacle.

Finally the squadron identified a larger-sized force and combined with members of the Singapore Armed Forces to attack a second objective. The SAF unit, known as “Hunter Platoon” joined U.S. forces on the fire line to assault and seize a third objective.

To prepare for the two-week training, the 2-14 CAV Soldiers spent four weeks with NCOs simulating the jungle conditions while preparing transportation and logistics.

“I’m very proud of my guys,” Forsha said. “They brought their best.”

Next, the 2-14 CAV and members of the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment will travel to Australia for a month of preparation for the large-scale, multi-national exercise Talisman Sabre from July 22 through Aug. 4 in Queensland and Western Australia.



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