AMOY QUEE CAMP, Singapore – Members of the Singapore Armed Forces and U.S. Army soldiers joined together to celebrate the end of Exercise Lightning Strike during a ceremony here July 26. <br /> <br /> Exercise Lightning Strike, which began July 15, was a combined Singapore and U.S. training exercise that partnered C Company, Singapore Infantry Regiment, with a platoon of Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. <br /> <br /> “I’m proud to have been part of this Lightning Strike journey,” said Lt. Col. Woo Sin Boon, the commanding officer of 2nd Bn., SIR. <br /> <br /> This year was the sixth time the two forces partnered for the exercise sponsored by U.S. Army Pacific, but only the second to occur in Singapore. The exercise culminated into a 4-day mock mission where Singaporean and U.S. Soldiers cleared a simulated enemy stronghold in a mountainous training area.<br /> <br /> “I saw a blurring of lines between the U.S. and Singapore armies,” Boon said. “If not for the different uniforms we wear, I could have mistaken U.S. Soldiers for ours.”<br /> <br /> At the end of the field event, the participants received a distinct patch that combined graphic elements of the 2nd Bn., SIR, and 4-23 Inf. unit patches – an enduring symbol of partnership. <br /> <br /> “The Lightning Strike patch represents not just two weeks of training but the long lasting ties we anticipate going forward between these two armies,” Boon said. <br /> <br /> For the SAF and U.S. Soldiers on the ground, the exercise was more than just training on military techniques, but a chance to absorb one another’s culture. <br /> <br /> “Something I will remember forever, is the combined arms exercise we did together,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Jason Bateman, a Phoenix native and team leader with B Co., 4-23 Inf. “Just being able to work in a partnership with them and accomplish a mission. There is so much of a difference in our tactics and the way we communicate, but we still worked together. It was really inspiring.”<br /> <br /> “It was a culture shock when I got here,” Bateman said. “I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb. Then after interacting those first couple days with their army, everyone seemed to have really open arms and were really welcoming. I wasn’t an outsider, I was a visitor.”<br /> <br /> Although the weeks of training went by fast, there was plenty of time to make lasting connections between the two forces.<br /> <br /> “I made some good friends over here, ones I’ll keep in touch with for years to come,” Bateman said. <br /> <br /> During the first week of the exercise, Singapore Army 1st Sgt. Md Faris Bin Md Dawood showed Bateman and his squad members a side of Singapore they may never have seen otherwise.<br /> <br /> “He took us to his hometown and his favorite restaurant,” Bateman said. “I was able to go to this home-style restaurant and experience how they cook and their food and how they live day-to-day. It was a really good experience.” <br /> <br /> Bateman will return the favor in a few months when Farris comes to the U.S. for a visit of his own. <br /> <br /> “He’s coming to Washington in the spring,” Bateman said. “We’re going to get together as a squad and take him out and show him our culture.”<br /> <br /> Although the exercise is over, connections forged between the two forces, like that between Bateman and Farris, will not fade anytime soon.