By Mr. Ben ShermanNovember 8, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla. -- Operation Daring Warrior returned to Southwest Oklahoma for the fourth year as the Singaporean Armed Forces and the Fires Center of Excellence joined together for live fire exercises at Fort Sill.
Brig. Gen. Brian McKiernan, Field Artillery School commandant and chief of FA, was impressed with the performance of the Singapore soldiers.
"This is a very, very important training opportunity for both of our armed forces. This provides a great opportunity for us to work on our interoperability with a very important partner in the Pacific region, which has become very important to us with the recent discussions about our refocus on operations in Asia," McKiernan said.
Col. Terry Siow, chief of artillery for the Singaporean Armed Forces, commanded the forces for this year's Daring Warrior exercise. Siow is no stranger to Fort Sill, having attended the Basic Officer Leader Course at the FA School here 19 years ago. He was happy to return to Fort Sill and very pleased with the performance of his troops.
"I think we did well. Our soldiers have been here for just over two weeks and they've been a long way from home. We're happy that we get to come here to train," Siow said. "This is the fourth year running that we've been to Fort Sill. It has really been good to have this available for us, being a small country. This allows us to train and do live firing. It's a great opportunity for us and Fort Sill certainly is among the best places that we have identified for us to do our live firing for artillery."
This year's Operation Daring Warrior exercises involved the six HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) units that the Singaporeans brought with them, plus four of their Apache AH-64 helicopters. The added elements made the training even more exciting.
"They are out there controlling our aircraft, both Marine Corps and Air Force aircraft," said McKiernan. "And their observers are calling for fire from U.S. cannon artillery, while our observers are calling for HIMARS rocket missions from their launchers. I am very comfortable that we have such a great operating capability here."
Groups of Singaporeans, U.S. Army and Air Force personnel gathered on a ridge overlooking Thompson Hill range to call in air strikes by Marine Corps F/A-18 aircraft flying out of Naval Air Station Fort Worth, Texas.
Siow added the importance of having his forces calling in air strikes from U.S. aircraft over the two-week period.
"Having the opportunity to interact with U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps aircraft also underscores the strong defense relations that we have between our two countries," Siow said.
Rockets, lots of rockets
The training culminated with the Singaporean Soldiers firing three rockets from their HIMARS on the west range Oct. 30. The live fire exercise was especially exciting for 2nd Sgt. Samuel Sim of the Singaporean Army. As the sergeant major for A Battery, Field Artillery, he was excited to see all of their hard work and training come together.
"It's just an exhilarating feeling to see the first rocket shot, knowing we have worked so hard for it. This is my first time to train with American Soldiers and it has been a pleasure to learn from them," Sim said.
Sim, who has been in the Singaporean Army for two years, is in charge of force preparation for the exercise, helping to find suitable tactical locations for their observation and command posts. Young Singaporean men and women are subject to mandatory military service for up to three years after high school. Also, women serve with equality at all levels in the Singaporean military and can achieve any position of leadership.
To do live fire exercises at Fort Sill provides real world experiences for Sim and his fellow troops.
"We are unable to fire live rockets in Singapore due to the land constraints, so it's definitely valuable for us to come over here to execute our mission with live ammo and complete our training we have done back home."
"Fort Sill provides a great venue to do these types of exercises. We have great range facilities, and our partners and allies have access to our Fires Center of Excellence here and the experts that we have in both the field artillery and the air defense artillery schools and there's a number of our partners and allies around the world that come here and do very high level training, especially in the air defense artillery mission as well, not just the field artillery mission," McKiernan said.
Many of the Singaporean officers, like Siow, have continued to come to Fort Sill and receive professional military officer education at the FA and ADA schools. And with their soldiers receiving instruction on the HIMARS and other artillery systems, the level of shared experiences between Singaporean and U.S. forces continues to grow with each passing year.
"We have gotten excellent support on the ground from the logistics and all of the support staff here. And at the technical level, many of our soldiers have worked very well with the U.S. forces over the last two weeks. I am sure that the friendship and the close interaction we have had over this time will continue to build upon the already close defense relationship that we have at the higher strategic level. I look forward to having more opportunities to exercise and interact with the U.S. forces here at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in the coming years," Siow said.
To reinforce those views, Siow stated that the Singaporean Army plans to station six HIMARS launchers at Fort Sill on a long-term basis, along with aviation assets that will be stationed stateside as well. This points to a continued training relationship at Fort Sill between the Singaporeans and the Army.
McKiernan added that the benefits to joint and combined training exercises such as Operation Daring Warrior benefits U.S. forces as much as it benefits allies like Singapore.
"I can't overstate the importance of this kind of training in terms of the long-range strategies for our defense. It is all about building capability and capacity in our partners around the world, so that we can make sure that we provide peace and stability in places that are really critical to the United States. Places like the Pacific Rim and Asia, and so when we work together like this we have a commonality and an understanding of each other's operations that allows us, if need be, to operate side-by-side in an integrated way. It's been a great training opportunity for both of our armed forces," McKiernan said.