KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia- Approximately 225 Soldiers from the United States and Malaysia stood in combined formations during a ceremony July 13 to officially kick off Keris Strike 2009.

Soldiers from the 9th Mission Support Command (MSC), the New York National Guard's 369th Sustainment Brigade, Guam National Guard's 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Division (Light) and the 12th Malaysian Infantry Brigade joined together for the 13th iteration of the exercise.

The combined-brigade level command-post exercise is a key piece of the United States Pacific Command Theater Security Cooperation Program and is based on United Nations Peace Keeping Operations.

Maj. Gen. Dato' Zulkiple bin Hl Kassim, 4th Malaysian Infantry Division Commander, and Maj. Gen. Patrick D. Wilson, Deputy Commanding General Army National Guard, U.S. Army Pacific, presided over the opening ceremony.

During his remarks to the Soldiers, Zulkiple thanked the U. S. contingent for their continued participation in the exercise. He told the troops to focus on the sharing of tactics, techniques and procedures and the importance of developing personal and professional relationships.

Wilson added that Keris Strike is an opportunity to build on and enhance relationships and the mutual trust between the two countries.

"We need to emphasize the things we have in common and build on our abilities to work side-by-side and shoulder-to-shoulder to accomplish a mission, both here in the exercise but more importantly, somewhere in the world, should the circumstances require our combined presence,Aca,!A? Wilson said. Aca,!A"The people of our respective countries rely on us to keep their hopes, dreams and aspirations alive."

During the exercise, Soldiers will participate in academic training, a mini-exercise and a command-post exercise. In addition Soldiers from both armies will have a friendly soccer match and two official social events. Soldiers have the opportunity to see the sights with Malaysian Soldiers, including the Malaysian Military Museum at Port Dickson and the historic city of Melaka.

Many Soldiers have participated in previous Keris Strike exercises, including Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Matsumoto, exercise support non-commissioned officer-in-charge, who is visiting Malaysia for the second time.

"Malaysia is a beautiful county with warm, friendly and gracious people,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"I hope to meet the Malaysian Armed Forces and keep my personal and professional relationships going.Aca,!A?

The two-week exercise concludes July 24.