CAMP MURRAY, Wash. - Soldiers with the 96th Troop Command, Washington Army National Guard, took the lead as the primary U.S. administrative element in Keris Strike 2018, July 23 through Aug. 3, 2018.

Soldiers from across the 96th Troop Command's Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 122nd Public Affairs Operation Center, 420th Chemical Battalion and the 56th Theater Information Operations Group participated in a field training exercise, a command post exercise, and several live fire exercises during Keris Strike.

The 96th Troop Command's primary effort was a bilateral command post exercise that simulated a humanitarian disaster caused by a tsunami.

"Our relationship with the Malaysians was good to start with, and it blossomed into something completely unexpected", said Col. Anthony Lieggi, Commander of the 96th Troop Command. "It has gone to a whole new level."

The CPX solidified the lines of communication between the U.S. and Malaysia by familiarizing the 96th Troop Command's leadership with Malaysian disaster response procedures and communication networks.

"Both our organizations discovered some really important aspects of humanitarian assistance and disaster recovery," said Lieggi.

The 96th Troop Command's participation was key in affirming and building the state partnership between Washington State and Malaysia. While in Malaysia, 96th Troop Command facilitated a subject matter expert exchange with Malaysian personnel that involved Washington Army National Guard and active duty elements. They trained on criminal investigation, medical aid, and responses to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear contaminants.

The combination between the CPX and the SMEE created a meaningful and lasting experience for both the 96th Troop Command and their Malaysian counterparts, said Lieggi.

"This is an exercise that if I had an opportunity to repeat three or four times I would absolutely do it again," said Lieggi. "The learning, the camaraderie, the team work and the common interest make you appreciate how two teams come together to perform for a common goal."