04 October 2011

SAF, US Marines conduct joint exercise

LTC Tan (left) presenting a token of appreciation to Captain Robert Jones (right) of the USMC at the closing ceremony, together with SLTC Keong.

The bilateral exercise codenamed Valiant Mark between the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the United States Marine Corps (USMC) drew to a close on the evening of 30 Sep at Bedok Camp. A few hours before then, the two sides were still locked in a gruelling three-day battalion-level exercise. If they were fatigued, it certainly did not show in the soldiers from the two armed forces.

During his speech at the closing ceremony, Senior Lieutenant Colonel (SLTC) Clifford Keong, Commander 7th Singapore Infantry Brigade spoke of the enduring ties between personnel from both armed forces. "I hope that our bonds will continue to be strong, building ties that go beyond teamwork towards a lifelong brotherhood," said SLTC Keong, who had first encountered USMC personnel as a young officer about 15 years ago.

"Such exercises definitely go a long way to ensure interoperability," added SLTC Keong.

Over the course of the 11-day exercise, about 500 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Singapore Guards (1 Gds), and 160 from 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, had the chance to share operational experiences, culminating in a combined live-firing exercise. Some of the topics discussed included air-land integration, air security operations and small-unit training. The two units also trained together at the Murai Urban Training Facility.

"There were many points of interaction on all levels over the short but intense exercise period. From the troops to the officers, everyone exchanged ideas and gained something from the exercise," said Lieutenant Colonel Tan Cheng Kwee, Commanding Officer, 1 Gds.

Ground sentiments were similarly positive: "We both share the same strive for perfection in leading our platoons to the highest possible standards. That shared ideal really smoothed operations over the past two weeks," said 2nd Lieutenant Andrew Darlington, Platoon Commander, USMC.

SAF and USMC soldiers taking part in a mortar live-firing exercise.

Sergeant Paul Morrison, a Machine Gun Section Leader from the USMC, said: "Stepping outside of the way we operate and taking in constructive ideas from another military is something I will take away from this experience."

For Full-time National Serviceman Corporal Mohammad Ridzwan Bin Mohammad Ibrahim, the exchanges gave him more confidence as a soldier. "They are really not that different from us and I'm glad for the experience," he said.

2nd Warrant Officer Tay Ban Heng, Regimental Sergeant Major, 1 Gds, added: "We were very committed and the men showcased their true abilities. I'm proud to say that each one of them did not give up though the conditions were tough."

The exercise, which kicked off on 19 Sep, is part of the extensive interactions between the two armed forces. Through bilateral and multilateral exercises, professional exchanges and attendance of each other's professional courses, the two military forces have enhanced their level of interoperability and fostered greater understanding between personnel from both sides.

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