Hawaii Soldiers welcome Singapore Army, prepare for Tiger Balm 2012
By Sgt. Robert M. England, 2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

Click for high resolution image
Brig. Gen. Gary Hara, the land component commander for the Hawaii Army National Guard, addresses troops from the Hawaii Army National Guard, the Oregon Army National Guard and the Singapore Armed Forces during the Tiger Balm 2012 opening ceremony at the Hawaii National Guard Training Institute, Waimanalo, Hawaii, on July 10.
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, "Wolfhounds," 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, the Oregon Army National Guard and the Hawaii Army National Guard, welcomed Singapore Army soldiers to Hawaii during the opening ceremony for Tiger Balm 2012 at the Hawaii National Guard Training Institute, Waimanalo, Hawaii, on July 10.

The ceremony consisted of remarks from Col. Ngian Sang Lee, the chief of staff for the 3rd Division, Singapore Armed Forces, and Brig. Gen. Gary Hara, the land component commander for the Hawaii Army National Guard, and marked the beginning of Tiger Balm 2012.

The United States Army Pacific Theater Security Cooperation Program exercise "Tiger Balm" is a bilateral exercise focused on strengthening the partnership between the U.S. and Singapore Armies through combined training missions. It also promotes stability and security in the Pacific region while enhancing the two armies' interoperability with each other.

"This exercise is significant not only in the bilateral relationship between Singapore and the US, it is also a major milestone in the 24th Brigade's history as it marks the first overseas exercise undertaken by the brigade," Lee said. "The United States is a vital security and defense partner for Singapore and the Singapore Armed Forces. Our defense relationship has strengthened since the signing of the Strategic Framework Agreement between our national leaders in July 2005."

Tiger Balm 2012 will consist of a brigade-level command post exercise and a company-level field training in which the 1st Bn., 27th Inf. Regt. and the Singapore Army company will conduct infantry tactics, techniques and procedures, military operations on urban terrain, and lane training in counter-improvised explosive device operations.

"Exercise 'Lightning Strike' is a field training exercise with the 1st Bn., 27th Inf. Regt. and members of the Singapore Armed Forces," Hara said. "They will progress with squad-, platoon- and company-level tasks, mounted and dismounted, on urban terrain through the Bellows Training Area complex."

Tactical communication on the battlefield is critical to the success of any operation involving multiple military units, especially units from different countries. Tiger Balm 2012 will provide the Wolfhounds an opportunity to train with their Singaporean counterparts, thereby building interoperability and establishing solid working relationships between the militaries of both nations and demonstrating the US commitment in the Asia-Pacific Theater.

"The professional exchange between US and Singapore personnel of all operational experiences remains a critical part of this training event," Hara said. "Based on our experience with past exercises, we have much to learn from each other both militarily and culturally."

Tiger Balm has been conducted annually since 1981 with the location of the exercise rotating based on the last digit of the year. Years ending in an odd number take place in Singapore and years ending in even numbers occur in Hawaii. Lee said that Tiger Balm is the oldest standing bilateral exercise in Singapore Armed Forces' history, and that it speaks volumes of the close ties between both armies that continue to grow through the decades of changing global political landscape.