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Exercise Keris Strike 2018 builds friendships in Malaysia

By Spc. Alec Dionne | Washington National Guard | Aug. 2, 2018

CAMP SENAWANG, Malaysia - Four Soldiers in gas masks run their patient in on a stretcher. They are dressed head to toe in protective Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear. This gear is designed to protect them from chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear threats. Their patient is in MOPP gear too, and before he can be treated, he must be decontaminated.

The patient is washed repeatedly over multiple stations, and with different solutions. He cannot simply be undressed, but at each stage, he must receive a new treatment. Another soldier uses a scanner to check the patient for contamination.

For now this is just a training exercise. These soldiers are participating in a practice decontamination as part of Exercise Keris Strike 2018, Camp Senawang, Malaysia, July 25.

On the sidelines, Staff Sgt. Scott Salmon, 540th Chemical Detachment, 420th Chemical Battalion, 96th Troop Command, Washington Army National Guard, watches the demonstration and gives step-by-step analysis for his audience.

"I really enjoyed having the American Soldiers alongside the Malaysian soldiers," said Salmon, one of the course instructors. "Being able to come into that fellowship of the international soldier, we are really after the same goal, which is safeguarding our homelands, and protecting our people."

Classes were given to a combined audience of U.S. and Malaysian soldiers. Soldiers with the 15th Royal Malay Regiment, and Charlie Company, 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, U.S. Army Reserve, were familiarized with the definition of CBRN by Malaysian instructors, and were then shown the basics of MOPP equipment by U.S. instructors.

Theses Malaysian and U.S. instructors know each other. The Malaysian instructors, with Malaysian Engineer Regiment, Defense Nuclear Biological Chemical Section, worked with the Soldiers of the 540th during the last iteration of Keris Strike.

"It has been great seeing the camaraderie that we share," said Salmon.

During the last Keris Strike, they got to know each other well. They still know each other's first names.

"It has been great to see [Malaysian] soldiers who were considered younger, actually leading classes this year," said Salmon. "This [improvement] is not something intangible, this can actually be measured."

This partnership gets to the heart of Keris Strike. Not only are U.S. and Malaysian teams made better by teaching each other, but the connection between the two has grown strong.

These global connections create a foundation for a peaceful and prosperous future for Malaysia and the U.S.

"Being able to see the people that I worked with last year, and have them recognize me and to see that they [The Malaysian CBRN unit] have incorporated some of the things that we taught them last year, really makes this all worth it," Salmon said.