| Azaraimy HH |
THE Sultanate’s military today is neither measured in terms of its massive size, the vastness of its weaponries nor the diversity of its combat experiences, but rather in terms of its excellence in hosting world-class military events such as the ongoing 11th Brunei International Skill at Arms Meet (BISAM) 2015.
BISAM this year marks China’s first military engagement in friendly arms competition in the region. BISAM 2015 is also the first for military contingents from the United States of America (US).
Contingents from two of the worlds’ biggest militaries are looking at BISAM as a pivot in forging diplomatic friendship and people-to-people connection as cooperation is of great importance in today’s military operations.
The Bulletin took the opportunity to talk to the leaders of both military contingents – Captain Eric Lo of the US Army who represents the United States Special Operations Command – Pacific, and Senior Colonel Yu Kuangming from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
The Bulletin also talked to Colonel Arm Budi Suwanto, this year’s team leader of the defending champion of BISAM – The Indonesian National Armed Forces.
Participating teams from 16 nations will vie for the BISAM Sultan Cup. The teams are Royal Brunei Armed Forces, Australia Defence Forces, Royal Cambodia Armed Forces, People’s Liberation Army, Indonesia National Armed Forces, Lao People’s Army, Malaysia Armed Forces, New Zealand Defence Force, Sultan of Oman’s Armed Forces, Pakistani Armed Forces, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Singapore Armed Forces, Royal Thai Armed Forces, Royal Ghurkha Rifles British Army, United States Special Operations Command – Pacific and Vietnam’s People Army.
Captain Eric said, “It is an honour to be able to compete in this competition and US contingents are grateful to be able to interact with contingents from each participating nations.”
During the interview, he was accompanied by 1st Lt Patrick Hamlin of the from the United States Special Operations Command – Pacific.
“We would like to thank Brunei Darussalam, the royal family and the Ministry of Defence to allow us to take part and for hosting such an exceptional event, and for the hospitality and generosity provided to us,” the US Army captain said.
“We see that they always raise the bar, they shoot for excellence, and that is something that we absolutely want to be part of, because as we compete each other, we also make ourselves better. It’s not just about competing to be a better shooter but also about learning from each other,” Captain Eric added.
He said BISAM is an excellent platform to forge relations between two countries with very little exposure to one another.
“The Royal Brunei Armed Forces – I can’t say enough about how they have been able to work with us, this being the first year in participating,” he said.
Captain Eric Lo said he was very impressed at the level of proficiency in marksmanship skill of the other contingents, and with what they do to prepare in their training.
Furthermore, he was impressed with the interoperability and sportsmanship and willingness to work with one another, which is to him a top priority and what the US wanted to foster.
Senior Colonel Yu Kuangming told the Bulletin that the PLA had heard about the BISAM before, and saw it as a well-organised and well-served event.
“This competition has a lot of players with high skill of marksmanship. This is our first time and we hope this engagement will reinforce the mutual trust and relations with the participating nations,” he said.
“I am convinced that this is a good chance to make things more transparent and more committed to each other,” he added. He was also impressed with the level of marksmanship of the Brunei contingents. Senior Colonel Yu Kuangming wished for the event’s great success.
Asked about what preparation they did in defending Indonesia’s championship with the US and now that China entering the competition, the Indonesian team leader, Col Arm Budi Suwanto said, “Actually there is no specific preparation. Just a normal training as usually done.” According to him, every year Indonesia sends a different team.
Col Arm Budi also praised the smooth running of the event. He emphasised the true purposes of the competition which are to foster relations and mutual trust. During the interview, he was accompanied by Mayor Laut (Marine) Ahmad Fahribi, from Markas Besar Tentara Nasional Indonesia (MABES TNI).