Watch service members from the Malaysian Armed Forces conduct an amphibious beach landing at Blue Beach, Malaysia during Exercise Tiger Strike 2017. Tiger Strike is a bilateral exercise jointly held by the US and Malaysia to help preserve the readiness in the south east Asia-Pacific region.
The holding of the drills was yet another demonstration of continued cooperation on the defense side under the new U.S. administration led by President Donald Trump.
The United States and the Royal Malaysian Armed Forces enjoy a strong defense relationship, as manifested across a range of areas such as counterterrorism and maritime security, and through a variety of means including visits, exchanges, and exercises.
Last year’s iteration of Tiger Strike saw the participation of about 300 Marines and Sailors with the Marine Expeditionary Unit on the U.S. side and featured the sharing of training practices in various areas including combat logistics support and operational planning.
TS17 was the fourth iteration of the exercise, and according to a Malaysian defense ministry statement, the drills involved over 400 personnel from both sides. Exercise Tiger Strike 2017 was held in Tanduo, Sabah, which was deemed to be a suitable location, because Tanduo was at the centre of the 2013 Lahad Datu standoff. During the standoff, over 200 descendants of the Sultanate of Sulu attempted to assert the Philippine claim to Sabah.
In the resulting clash between the Sulu militants and Malaysian armed forces, many militants, civilians and armed forces personnel were killed.
The location is also particularly apt because Malaysia is currently focused on combating terrorism in the area, thus prioritising its defense and preserving its sovereignty.
The report highlighted that previous iterations of Exercise Tiger Strike have included sharing of training practices in various areas, including support for combat logistics, as well as operational planning. Apart from the navy and air force, the ground forces of the Battalion 22 of the Royal Malay Regiment were joined by the 1st Marine Regiment of the United States Marine Corp (USMC) in the “assault” against the terrorists.
Aside from the Exercise Tiger Strike 2017, the defence relationship between the two nations has also been seen through other multilateral and bilateral exercises, such as Pacific Partnership, the Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training, and Exercise Keris Strike.