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US and Singapore armies complete 43rd Exercise Tiger Balm bilateral exercise.

As reported by Singapore's Ministry of Defense on May 18, 2024, the US Army and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) have completed the 43rd annual Exercise Tiger Balm at the Yakima Training Center in Washington. This bilateral exercise, which started on May 6, 2024, is designed to enhance interoperability and military cooperation between the two nations through rigorous training and shared operational experiences.
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Personnel from the U.S. 53rd Ordnance Company share charge preparation techniques with members of the 36th Battalion, Singapore Combat Engineers, ahead of the Counter-Improvised Explosive Device live-firing exercise. (Picture source: Singapore MoD)

The Tiger Balm 2024 exercise concluded on May 17, 2024, with a closing ceremony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), co-officiated by Colonel Anand Sathi Kumar, Commander of the 6th Singapore Division (6 Div) / Headquarters Sense and Strike (HQ SS), and Brigadier General Phillip L. Mallory, Commander of the 154th Wing, Hawaii Air National Guard.

This year's Exercise Tiger Balm, which featured a Brigade-level command post exercise, included approximately 670 personnel from various units such as the Singapore Army's Headquarters 6 Div / HQ SS, Headquarters 76th Singapore Infantry Brigade, and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)'s Peace Carvin V Detachment. The U.S. Army's Hawaii Army National Guard (HIARNG), the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade also participated. Notably, the RSAF's F-15SG fighters and Singapore Army's VELOCE 15 mini-Unmanned Aerial Vehicles made their inaugural appearance, enhancing air-land integration across both services.

This year's Exercise Tiger Balm included a comprehensive Field Training Exercise (FTX) focusing on deliberate targeting in artillery and aviation, as well as air-ground integration. For instance, soldiers from the US Army's 94th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, executed a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) M142 launch sequence, preparing to provide artillery support during the exercise. The Combined Arms Live Firing component saw participation from the Singapore Army's Strike Observer Mission (STORM) team, 11th Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence Battalion (11 C4I Bn), the RSAF's Peace Carvin V detachment, and the U.S. Army's Fire Support Team (FiST) and Field Artillery unit, practicing Multi-Domain Smart Warfighting and sense-strike processes.

The exercise also leveraged a Live-Virtual-Constructive (LVC) simulation system to link Brigade Command Posts at the Joint Multinational Simulations Centre of Indo-Pacific (JMSC-IP) from JBLM with the SAF Wargame Centre at Pasir Laba Camp, coordinating planning and execution between both brigades. Subject matter exchanges on Counter-Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) and Chemical, Biological and Radiological Defence (CBRD) operations were conducted, culminating in a C-IED live-firing exercise and a CBRD field exercise.

Leaders from both armies noted the importance of these exercises in building mutual trust and enhancing military readiness. US Army Maj. Gen. Matthew McFarlane, Deputy Commanding General of United States Army Pacific Command (USARPAC), noted that the exercise builds readiness and strengthens interoperability between the two armies. Similarly, SAF Brig. Gen. Andrew Lim highlighted the collaboration's role in fostering close friendships and deepening cooperation. Colonel Anand Sathi Kumar, Commander of the 6th Singapore Division, remarked that Exercise Tiger Balm reflects the strong, valuable, and long-standing partnership between the Singapore Army and the U.S. Army, demonstrating the competence and commitment of both forces.

During Exercise Tiger Balm 2024, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)'s F-15SG fighters and Singapore Army's VELOCE 15 mini-Unmanned Aerial Vehicles made their inaugural appearance, enhancing air-land integration across both services. (Picture source: Singapore MoD)

Exercise Tiger Balm, which began in 1981, is the longest-running bilateral military exercise between the SAF and the US Army. This annual exercise aims to enhance regional security, interoperability, and strengthen military ties between the two nations. Over the decades, the exercise has evolved to address contemporary security challenges and incorporate advanced training elements and technologies.

The exercise typically includes activities such as live-fire drills, command post exercises, and subject matter expert exchanges. Recent iterations have featured Live-Virtual-Constructive (LVC) simulation systems to link brigade command posts for coordinated planning and execution. These components enable participants to develop and refine their tactical skills, techniques, and procedures in a realistic environment.

Beyond its primary military objectives, Exercise Tiger Balm fosters professional exchanges and mutual understanding between personnel of both armies. Regular interaction through this exercise has led to strong friendships and mutual trust, which are vital for regional stability and cooperation. The exercise also serves as a platform for the armies to share best practices and lessons learned, thereby enhancing their collective readiness and capability to address multifaceted security threats.

Overall, Exercise Tiger Balm exemplifies the defense relationship between Singapore and the United States, which aims to contribute to a free and open Indo-Pacific region. To date, the military relations between the United States and Singapore are underpinned by key agreements, including the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding Regarding United States Use of Facilities in Singapore, the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement, and the 2015 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA). These agreements facilitate US access to military facilities in Singapore and enable cooperation in areas such as biosecurity, cyber defense, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief.

Additionally, Singapore hosts US military personnel for training and operational purposes, while the SAF maintains three permanent training detachments in the US, specifically in Idaho, Arizona, and Texas. These facilities underscore the interoperability between the two militaries, allowing for regular joint exercises and training programs. A notable recent development is the signing of the Security of Supply Arrangement (SOSA) in December 2023, aimed at addressing supply chain disruptions that could affect defense needs.

This year's Exercise Tiger Balm included a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) M142 launch sequence conducted by soldiers from the US Army's 94th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, 7th Infantry Division. (Picture source: US DoD)

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