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Soldiers learn survival skills during Keris Strike 2012

September 24, 2012

By Spc. Lisa Laughlin

PANTI FOREST RESERVE, Malaysia -- Sixty-five service members participating in the Keris Strike 2012 exercise went into the. Panti Forest Reserve Sept. 20 with members of the Malaysian Armed Forces for a demonstration of survival and tracking skill.

KrS12 is a regularly scheduled, multinational exercise sponsored by the U.S. Army Pacific and hosted annually by the Malaysian Armed Forces. Keris Strike 12 is the latest in a continuing series of exercises designed to promote regional peace and security. This exercise marks the sixteenth anniversary of this regionally significant training event.

Maj. Mazlan Bin Besar, the A company commander for the 1st Royal Ranger Regiment of the Malaysian Armed Forces, gave the survival demonstration. The training included a demonstration of a tracker dog and a search dog, moving through the jungle, scanning for an enemy sentry, how to identify which plants are poisonous, edible, or can be used as utilities or medicine, a demonstration on trapping a wild animal, an improvised shelter demonstration, and how to skin and cook an animal.

Mazlan said this is not the first time he has taught the course for U.S. Soldiers. He has previously travelled to Alaska and Hawaii to teach survival training and tracking with the U.S. Army.

Staff Sgt. Burt T. Vierra, the combined tactical operations center communications noncommissioned officer in charge for KrS12, took part in the survival demonstration. Vierra, a Soldier with the 100th Infantry Battalion 442nd Regimental Combat Team from Fort Shafter, Hawaii, said the training was not limited to survival in the Malaysian jungle; he felt many of the skills would be helpful in any environment.

"He was explaining how to figure out what plants are poisonous or safe for you," said Vierra, "Also, how to catch different animals, I mean quite simple traps you can use."

Lt. Colonel Toh Seng Ho, an instructor for the course, led the demonstration of the combat tracker team.

"The goal is actually to give exposure to the U.S. Army on how use dogs to track down the enemy and also to detect booby traps," said Toh.

Toh said the training went well and the Soldiers worked well together.

"Every Army is the same no matter who you work with," he said. "The most important thing is that we are working together as humans, and the human relationship is the most important. Be it U.S., British, Australian; no problem, it's all about sharing knowledge."

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