Singapore

In a first, Singapore and US soldiers defuse IEDs in exercise

Soldiers from the 5th Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment and the US army combed through a forested area before fighting through an urban training area, with infantry carrier vehicles moving in.

In the course of their assault at the Murai Urban Training Facility yesterday, the 300 or so troops spotted an improvised explosive device (IED) in a building.

The area was cordoned and explosive ordnance disposal experts were called in to defuse it.

It was the first time troops from the Singapore and US armies worked together to defuse IEDs as part of Exercise Tiger Balm, which is the longest-running exercise between the two armies.

The integrated team consisted of soldiers from the 36th Battalion Singapore Combat Engineers and the US Army's 303rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion.

This was the culmination of the brigade-level exercise, which began on July 8 and ends tomorrow.

The media was invited to observe the fighting troops at the Murai Urban Training Facility yesterday.

First conducted in 1981, this year's exercise involves about 760 soldiers from the 76th Singapore Infantry Brigade and 5th Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment and the US Army's 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2-130th Infantry Battalion and 1-23 Stryker Platoon.

The Commander of the 6th Singapore Division, Brigadier-General Lee Yi-Jin, said it is not common that two armies can operate so comfortably with each other at various echelons.

"I think it takes a lot of trust and confidence in each other, whether you're planning together, the considerations you share with each other.

"Even for the soldiers to go in to know that the guy next to him knows what he's doing, and will have his back as well," he told reporters yesterday.

His US counterpart, the Hawaii Army National Guard Chief of Staff, Colonel Stephen Logan, said that besides knowledge, expertise and skills being shared, lifelong friendships have been built in the 39 years the exercise has been ongoing.

WORLD