Celebrating a 40-year partnership, Exercise Tiger Balm is the longest running bilateral exercise between the U.S. Army and the Singapore Armed Forces that occurred virtually on Singapore and Oahu, Hawaii, May 6-13, 2021. Exercise Tiger Balm is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) sponsored exercise conducted annually since 1981 with the Singapore Armed Forces to enhance regional security, interoperability, and country-to-country military relationships. Soldiers from U.S. Army 25th Infantry Division, Hawaii Army National Guard, California Army National Guard, contractors with the Regional Cyber Center Pacific, and the Singapore Armed Forces participated in Exercise Tiger Balm 2021.
For four decades, Exercise Tiger Balm has been the catalyst for both nations’ close military-to-military ties. In 2020 it was cancelled due to the unprecedented threat of a global pandemic. To continue the strong U.S and Singapore Armed Force’s ties and bonds, exercise planners had the challenge in 2021 to make the entire exercise virtual.
”This year we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Tiger Balm, our bilateral exercise between U.S. Army Pacific and the Singapore Army focused on strengthening our partnership, solidifying interoperability, and building trust which enable a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Commanding General, U.S. Army Pacific, Gen. Paul J. Lacamera said. “Tiger Balm is the longest-running bilateral exercise the Singapore Army has with any defense partner, and this exercise is of great importance to both our armies. The U.S. Army Pacific is honored to be a part of this great tradition. Our partnership continues to be one of professionalism, mutual respect, and trust.”
Since 1981, this exercise has provided opportunities to Soldiers from U.S. and Singapore to work cohesively, exchange tactical skills, techniques, training and equipment, and build on lessons learned from previous iterations.
“Through four decades of bilateral training and collaboration, we have gleaned invaluable operational insights, and sharpened our professional competencies,” Singapore Chief of the Army, Major General Goh Si Hou said. “This would not have been the case if the exercise itself had not evolved constantly through the years, to stay relevant to the most pressing security challenges of our time.”
Though the 2021 iteration was conducted virtually with its participants thousands of miles away, this exercise continues to be of significant importance to both Nation’s armies. The greatest advantage remains the people – U.S. and Singapore Armed Forces – empowered by leadership and technology.
“Exercise Tiger Balm has provided a platform for professional exchanges to enhance the interoperability of both armies,” said Brig. General Lee Yi-Jin, Commander of 6th Division, Singapore Armed Forces. “The exercise has also grown in complexity over the years to incorporate emerging capabilities, doctrinal developments, and operational insights. These have been invaluable in preparing us for the multi-faceted threats that we face today, which increasingly require concerted and coordinated action by partner nations. This year’s exercise is unique in Tiger Balm’s history. We have been exercising continuously for four decades because we always believe by doing so enhances regional security through a strong rapport and interoperability.”
The bilateral command post exercise provides a valuable opportunity to train with Singapore Armed Forces, building readiness and capability. Maintaining operable forces fosters peace and stability, which is beneficial to U.S. interests and those of our partners.
“Exercise Tiger Balm has also provided the means for our armies to continue to improve our partnerships,” Hawaii Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Moses Kaoiwi Jr. said. “For over 40 years our forces were able to develop an enduring relationship. As a Hawaii National Guardsman, I have personally witnessed and experienced how Exercise Tiger Balm has strengthened the trust and confidence that we have in each other. Exercise Tiger Balm creates long lasting relationships that transcend beyond this exercise. I am confident that should we find ourselves together as partners in any conflict, contingency operation, or all-hazards event; we will be successful in completing our mission.”
This year’s closing ceremonies concluded after eight-days of virtual brigade-level command post exercise scenarios. The new Exercise Tiger Balm logo was unveiled during the closing ceremony to commemorate the 40th anniversary. There was also a commemorative magazine, signed and exchanged by the leaders.
Exercise Tiger Balm has been a benefit to INDOPACOM, USARPAC, the U.S. Army, and the Singapore Army, and will continue to be for years to come. Exercise Tiger Balm continues to evolve in order to counter the increasing complexities and challenges of an uncertain world and continues to fortify its forces and relationships.
“Though over the course of the last 40 years the exercise has seen many different faces and ever-evolving training and equipment,” said Commanding General of the U.S. Army 25th Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. James. B. Jarrad. “The relationships that have been built – and continue to be built – continue to tell the story of a partnership founded on conviction, commitment, and professionalism. We look forward to the future to where we can come once again together, to advancing out partnership, our interoperability, and our capacity to train, fight, and win as one team.”