Rising Above The Pressure
By Spc. Erin J. Quirke, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

WAIMANALO, Hawaii, July 12, 2012 -- Set against the Koolau Mountains, the Regional Training Institute in Waimanalo is the home of the Hawaii National Guard's 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Over the course of the last 10 years, the Oregon Army National Guard has used both the Hawaii Regional Training Institute and traveled to Singapore to conduct the bilateral brigade level command post exercise known as Tiger Balm.

Tiger Balm is a two-part exercise which is held in Hawaii every other year.

Tiger Balm is designed to help foster relationships as well as enhance combat readiness, professional relationships and interoperability between the U.S. military and the 3rd Singapore Division's 24th Infantry Brigade.

One of the many objectives of the exercise is to give both the HIARNG and the Singapore Armed Forces the opportunity to train on their mission essential tasks. This can include anything from route clearance to convoy security to base defense.

This will be achieved through a series of mission scenario event list injections, or MSEL. In charge of the MSEL injections is the opposing force section known as OPFOR, who will be the MSEL managers and roll players in the exercise.

"Essentially it's a game of choose your own adventure," said Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Cox of the Oregon Army National Guard's 82 Rear Operations Center, who is an OPFOR liaison. "We are here to test the ability of the Singapore Armed Forces and the Hawaii Army National Guard in sustainment operations."

In order to test the reaction and communication capabilities of the SAF and the HIARNG, OPFOR will place them in several electronically simulated training situations. These situations can include anything from terrorist attacks to anti-coalition protests to criminal activity.

These training situations are designed so that the SAF and HIARNG can come together at the end of the day and share their own training techniques and plans of action. By sharing reaction strategies and thought processes on how to counteract the MSEL's, the units can come together as one and learn from each other.

"All of the situations are scalable depending on the stress level that both the Singapore Armed Forces and the Hawaii Army National Guard are feeling," said Cox. "We don't want to give them more than they can handle, but for every action they take there will be a reaction from OPFOR to help guide them in the right direction so they can achieve their training objectives."

Elements from the Oregon National Guard and Singapore Armed Forces will play the roll of the higher control, or HICON, in the Tiger Balm exercise. The HICON is the command and control of the exercise. At the end of each day the SAF and the HIARNG will report to the HICON with the days events and their strategies of reaction to the MSEL injections, as well as touching on the other objectives of the exercise.

"What we're trying to do is add some realism and depth to a two dimensional computer simulation," said Staff Sgt. Mark Stocks of the Oregon Army National

Guard's 82 Rear Operations Center, a MSEL manager for OPFOR. "We wrote these MSEL injections for the 2008 Tiger Balm exercise, and have just built off that and adjusted them to help with today's scenarios."

Along with the MSEL injections from previous exercises, the ORANG is also bringing a new aspect in to play to help with training in sustainment operations.

"Some of the new aspects we are bringing to the exercise are role players and a non-kinetic MSEL, where there may be a way to talk themselves out of conflict instead of fighting through it," said Maj. Joseph Lontai of the Oregon Army National Guard's 82 Rear Operations Center, the officer in charge of OPFOR. "OPFOR is going to be a neutral playing field."

"Based on the positive actions and the reactions of the Singapore and U.S. forces, there will be the insurgency and the OPFOR response," said Lontai "So we try to make it as if there is a living entity of the OPFOR."

While the Singapore Armed Forces are here to achieve their training objectives, few will be able to really experience what happens behind closed doors with OPFOR.

"I'm shadowing the exercise control officer Captain Yocum during the MSEL injections," said Capt. Guang Wei Tan of the 3rd Singapore Division's 24th Infantry Brigade, a MSEL manager for OPFOR. "It's my first time working as the opposing force so I'm looking forward to learning how everything works."

With both Singapore and U.S. forces working to counteract the MSEL injections and the HICON waiting to receive news of the days events, it's teamwork, patience and the ability to adapt and overcome that will bring success to Tiger Balm.