Brig. Gen. Roger Mathews and Singaporean airmen
Brig. Gen. Roger Mathews, commandant of the Air Defense Artillery School, talks with Singaporean airmen in a hangar at Fort Sill's Henry Post Army Airfield Nov. 14. A 600-soldier task force of Singaporean soldiers and airmen are in Southwest Oklahoma for the three-week long Forging Sabre combined warfighter exercise with both Soldiers from Fort Sill and Oklahoma National Guard Soldiers.

The Republic of Singapore's largest combined military strike exercise, Forging Sabre, brought almost 600 Singaporean soldiers and airmen to Fort Sill, Okla., to work with hundreds of active duty and National Guard Soldiers, airmen and contractors.

The exercise involved Singaporean attack and transport helicopters, F-16 fighters, an unmanned aerial vehicle and Singapore Armed Forces commandos interaction with U.S. forces from throughout the Southwest United States.

Forging Sabre is hosted by nations who have large air space and maneuver areas to support the SAF combined exercise. It first began in 2005, with the United States as the host nation. Other hosts have included Australia and African nations.

"Forging Sabre is basically to tighten the allied integration that we have," said Calyn Chan, a spokeswoman for the Singapore Air Force.

On Saturday, for the first time, two Singaporean F-16 fighter pilots dropped live ammunition at Falcon Range during the annual air/land exercise.

"It's not simply just going in and dropping the bombs," said Singaporean Air Force Capt. Foo Ting, an F-16 pilot, in an interview with Channel News Asia. "We have to coordinate with each other to determine what exact language we're going to talk to each other about, what each specific term means, so that we can communicate effectively to destroy the target."

Lt. Col. Chris Baril, an AH-64 Apache helicopter pilot with the U.S. Army Flight Training Detachment in Marana, Ariz., flew one of the six U.S. Apaches his unit brought to the exercise. The attack choppers were used mainly in exercise scenarios involving ground commandos.

"It's a great exercise. We've been here two weeks and we're in the run phase of the operation," Baril said. "This (Fort Sill) is a great place to do it because of the space deficiencies they have in Singapore."

There are no language problems among the exercise players, Baril said.

"Their first language in Singapore is English so there are no issues with any of that," he said. "These guys are great to work with."

Baril, who has visited Singapore, said the exercise also allows for a cultural exchange between the Singaporeans and the Americans.

"That's the reason that we have this partnership," he said.

Brig. Gen. Roger Mathews, commandant of the Air Defense Artillery School, greeted the Singaporean service members at Henry Post Army Airfield at Fort Sill. Mathews said combined exercises like Forging Sabre have impact that ripples outward.

"We find ourselves in a world where we have allies, we need allies, nobody can go it alone in an operation," Mathews said.

"We are dealing with folks who have the same values and ideals that we do."

These exercises allow the militaries to share tactics, techniques and systems, Mathews said.

"This is a great opportunity to get together and learn from each other," he said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16