GAZIPUR, Bangladesh – Members of the Oregon National Guard, the 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and Civil Affairs and Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams trained with their Bangladesh counterparts during Exercise Tiger Lightning 2023.
“Tiger Lighting is a bilateral exercise where we focus on partnership and interoperability and strengthen our partnership that we have with Bangladesh,” said Oregon Army National Guard Lt. Col. Demian San Miguel, assigned to the State Partnership Program and the lead planner for Tiger Lightning 2023. “For the past couple of years, we have been doing exchanges with Bangladesh, focusing on peacekeeping operations for their units deploying to Mali, Central Africa Republic and Congo. So these exercises allow the U.S. forces to learn more about what the Bagladeshis do in Africa related to peacekeeping operations.”
Exercise Tiger Lightning was first conducted in 2017 with a pause for the COVID-19 pandemic. For the past two years, the exercise has been held in Bangladesh.
This year’s two-week exercise at the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Support Operations Training center concluded March 12.
“The main purpose and intent is to build on capacity,” said Maj. Gen. A.S.M. Ridwanur Rahman, BIPSOT commandant. “Last year, we conducted the exercise that was more of tabletop exercise with a little bit of tactical exercises, but this time we tried to really go at platoon levels and into the specific drills.
“Looking at the drills of both countries, we found there are a lot of things that we can really incorporate in our systems. So from that perspective, it is a great learning for us as a training institution and for the peacekeepers who will be deploying in the future,” Rahman said.
This exercise allowed all parties to share best practices.
“Tiger Lightning 2023 focused on a platoon-level exchange where we saw how the Bangladesh would do it, we demonstrated how the U.S. does it, then we combined the platoons to encourage that interoperability and see how they work together,” said San Miguel. “That only strengthened our partnership, not only at the strategic and operational level but really at the tactical level, with our Soldiers interacting with their Soldiers and developing that friendship and partnership.”
During the first week of training, the 150 Soldiers from the Bangladesh Army and 75 U.S. Army members focused on counter-improvised explosive devices (C-IED), mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, and a combat lifesaver course.
“This year, for the first time, the MRAP vehicles that we have received from the U.S. Army for the peacekeeping missions, we have tested and tried those on ground, so this is a good avenue,” said Rahman.
The second week included discussion of peacekeeping missions and EOD, followed by field exercise training. Soldiers established checkpoints, C-IED, counter-ambush and cordon and search operations.
The culminating exercise showcased cordon and search operations in multiple iterations. Members of Charlie Company, 3-116 Cavalry, observed the Bangladesh Army’s way of assaulting a staged village, then switched roles.
“It’s nice to see that when the platoons are combined and they are doing a specific task, afterwards there is an after-action review and we get good comments from the U.S. and good comments from Bangladesh and they are able to interact together and share those TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures) and experiences,” said San Miguel.
“We have a lot of things to learn from the U.S. Army, and at the same time, the U.S. participants have much to learn about the current peacekeeping environments,” Rahman said.
The Oregon National Guard and Bangladesh have been partners in the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program for over 10 years.
“The U.S. and Bangladesh Army have a very rich history of bilateral cooperation,” Rahman said.
“One of the most powerful things I have witnessed here was the casual interaction between the U.S. Soldiers and the Bangladesh soldiers, even when there was no task going on and just some downtime,” said San Miguel. “It was nice to see some of our Soldiers interact with them, laugh, joke, share patches. That right there is the foundation of our friendship with Bangladesh.”
The SPP program began 30 years ago and now includes 100 partner nations.