By Spc. Vincent Fusco, 20th PADAugust 30, 2007
FT. WAINWRIGHT, AK - Shots rang out across the Pvt. Joseph Martinez Combined Arms Collective Training Facility Aug. 23 as soldiers from the Singapore Army 4th Infantry Regiment, 6th Division, and U.S. Army 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division chased down the enemy in an urban battle.
The event was a culmination of three weeks of bilateral combat training with U.S. and Singaporean soldiers participating in Exercise Lightning Strike.
"In Singapore, we rarely have a chance to do (cordon and search), mainly because of training resources, like the amount of (opposing forces) and the simulation we have," said Singaporean Capt. Poon Cheng Song, intelligence officer for the Singaporean 4th SIR during Exercise Lightning Strike.
During the final mission, the Singaporean soldiers executed the cordon of a "Shiite" village surrounded by three "Sunni" villages, all of which were populated with opposing forces. After securing the area, the mission was to search for, detain or kill three high-value targets and finally extract those targets out of the training area.
The mission of the opposing force was to provide a realistic enemy for 1-5th to teach specific infantry tasks to each SAF platoon and soldier, said U.S. 1st Lt. Joseph Williams, Recon Platoon, 1-5th, and a native of Black River Falls, Wis.
'The role players have certain guidelines (to observe) in order to train as a real-life scenario," Williams said. "It's not controlled."
With role players playing both friendly and hostile Iraqi citizens all over the training area, the Singaporeans had to think on their feet in order to succeed, said Song. Each soldier needed to use careful judgment before engaging a potential enemy combatant.
Both nations' forces had different strategies and standard operating procedures to accomplish mission tasks. Working together on squad infantry tactics, vehicles and weapons systems allowed the Singaporean and U.S. soldiers to achieve these goals in a joint environment.
"Integrating the Singaporeans into the U.S. forces proved to have some difficulty," Williams said. "Each force has (it's) own way they train."
Still, the high intensity and combat pace of the CACTF afforded the soldiers of 4th SIR a glimpse of what a tour in Iraq could be like.
Song said the lessons his soldiers have learned here will be implemented into their own training after the unit returns to Singapore.
Many U.S. Soldiers who trained beside the SAF soldiers said they felt confident in all of their counterparts' abilities. Both forces' soldiers felt as if they learned a few new things from the joint exercise.
"I think the Singaporeans did very well over the course of three weeks," Williams said. "Their skill level of (military operations on urban terrain) has increased greatly."
Song praised the U.S. Soldiers that played opposing forces.
"The OPFOR were very professional and outspoken of our performance on the ground," said Song. "I think many of us felt (Lightning Strike) was a rewarding experience, and will remember it for the rest of our lives." Song also expressed hope that it would not be too long before the next joint exercise the United States and Singapore hosts together.