KUANTAN, Malaysia – The eighth annual Bersama Warrior exercise began June 6 with a ceremony presided over by First Admiral Baharudin bin Wan Md Nor, Malaysian Armed Forces Joint Force Headquarters deputy assistant chief of staff for the J3, and Brig. Gen. Bryan Grenon, commander of the Land Component Command for the Joint Force Headquarters, Washington National Guard.
The joint, bilateral exercise is sponsored by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and hosted by the Malaysian Armed Forces to develop their capacity to plan and conduct joint and combined operations.
Due to COVID-19, the Bersama Warrior 2021 staff exercise was held virtually and set the stage for this year’s command post exercise.
“Covid restrictions forced us to learn some valuable lessons. … Years from now, I think we will look back at last year and see the many ways the pandemic forced us to develop and improve,” Grenon said. “But now that we’re back together in-person, let’s not let anything hold us back from giving 100% to this exercise.”
Strengthening relationships is another goal for the 17 members from the Washington National Guard, a state partner with the Malaysian Armed Forces and one of the two primary training audiences for the exercise.
Since signing their formal partnership through the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program in August 2017, the Washington National Guard and the Malaysian Armed Forces have met regularly through exercises like Bersama Warrior to enhance mutual capabilities and security cooperation.
Six members from the U.S. Army’s 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, were also part of the primary training audience. The mission of the 5th SFAB, which is aligned with USINDOPACOM, is to conduct train, advise and assist missions with military partners overseas. They also participated in Bersama Warrior 2021 alongside the Washington National Guard.
Grenon closed the ceremony by acknowledging that all participants in the exercise have shared interests.
“Our dedication to a free and open Pacific is not just for a few of us — it’s for all of us,” he said. “I want to thank you [Malaysian Armed Forces] for your enduring friendship and partnership as we take another big step toward our shared goals.”
The exercise runs through June 17.