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Pattaya Daily News

19 May 2006 :: 15:05:29 pm 30338

History of Exercise Cobra Gold

In 1982, the Royal Thai Armed Forces and the U.S. Armed Forces initiated joint training, under the name of Exercise COBRA GOLD. At that time, the Royal Thai Navy was conducting naval, air and landing exercise with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. These included: PHIBTRAEX, SEAIAM, UNDERSEAL, and EODEX exercises under the name Cobra Gold 1982 and continued until 1985.
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In 1986, the Supreme Command Headquarters took responsibility for Exercise COBRA GOLD, and has continued the exercise annually. All Royal Thai Armed Forces have now joined the exercise, and it is rotated annually to each of the Royal Thai Army Areas.

Prior to 2004, the joint training was only between the Royal Thai Armed Forces, U.S. Armed Forces, and Singaporean Armed Forces. In 2004 the Philippine Armed Forces and Mongolian Armed Forces were added to the exercise which emphasized peace operations instead of war operations.

This year‘s exercise is the 25th anniversary of Cobra Gold and
training will focus on a field training exercise, a command post exercise, and humanitarian/civic assistance projects. These three portions of the exercise offer their own unique training opportunities in multiple military skill sets.

Combined airborne Soldiers make leap together Three C-17 jets cut through the haze hanging over Black Tiger Drop Zone at 9 a.m. Monday. On the second pass they dotted the horizon with 187 Thai and American paratroopers.

The drop earned Thai jump wings for 169 American Soldiers from C Co. 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry, 4th Brigade (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division from Fort Richardson Alaska. Their 18 Royal Thai Army counterparts from the 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, King?s Guard (Airborne) earned their American jump wings in Alaska before the flight.?There are three requirements for getting another country?s jump wings,? said Master Sgt. Tonika E. McKnight, the aerial delivery office non-commissioned officer in charge for the 167th Brigade Support Battalion, ?using their planes, their jumpmasters, and their parachutes.?

American paratroopers are proud of their jump wings, and always happy to earn some more. ?I?m very honored to receive my Thai jump wings,? said said Lt. Col. David Buckingham, the commander of the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment (Airborne), ?I worked hard from my American wings, and I worked hard for my Thai wings.?

Maj. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, the commanding general of the United States Army, Alaska and Maj. Gen Pruen Suwanatut, the commander of the 1st Division, Kings Guard, Royal Thai Army exchanged jump wings during a pinning ceremony after the jump. The rest of the American Soldiers will receive their wings at the conclusion of Cobra Gold ?06.

But this jump was not an ordinary up-and-down jump. It began with 14 hours in the belly of a C-17, and while exiting, high winds whipped the Soldiers around in the clouds.? The winds were 11 knots,? said Staff Sgt. Daniel Hubb, , the executive aid to the commanding general, ?it?s been a while since I?ve been whipped like that, but after 14 hours in the air, seeing the ground was refreshing,?

The long flight afforded the Soldiers the opportunity to perform an in-flight rigging.?Normally they start with their parachutes on,? said McKnight., ? but because the flight was so long they put the parachutes on in the jet a few hours before the jump.?

The drop was the beginning of two weeks of Combined Army Forces cross training between the Thai and American Soldiers to include MOUT training, jungle training, a combined training exercise and American air assault and Thai airborne assault monstrations.? Cross training is a great tool,? said Hubb, ?it?s an excellent way for two countries to build relations and to see where we stand.? It was a great day to conduct an airborne operation, it was a great day to jump with our Thai companions,? said Buckingham.

Paramount schedule
May 15, 2006 Inauguration, to implement at AFAPS, Nakhon Nayok

May 26, 2006 Handover of multipurpose buildings at the Dhammarak Niwes 2, Nong Moung, Lopburi

May 26, 2006 Closing ceremony conducted at AFAPS, Nakhon Nayok
The Cobra Gold 06 Command Headquarters will make an invitation to the Royal Thai Armed Forces Supreme Commander and the Ambassador (AMB) of the USA to act as honorary chairpersons for the ceremony. Besides the ambassadors of all participant countries, AMBs of other countries in Thailand, senior commanders of the Royal Thai Armed Forces and other distinguished guests will be invited.

Training management
The Directorate of Joint Operations (J3) is assigned responsibility by The Supreme Command Headquarters to set up the Cobra Gold 06 Operation Command Post to create scenarios and planning, command, control and overall communications as well. The Director of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Kemerat Kanjanawat is assigned the Thai Exercise Director. Colonel David A. Schneider, Chief Combined and Joint Exercise, U.S. Pacific Command is the Exercise Director for U.S. participants.

The Thai 1st Army Corps is the major unit in establishment of the Combined Joint Task Forces HQ under the command of the 1st Corps Commander, Lieutenant General Jirasit Gesakomol. Lieutenant General James M. Dubik, I U.S. Corps Commander is assigned to be Deputy Commander CJTF. The CJTF organization included 7 Chiefs of Staff and 5 units in Operational Command (OPCOM).The SAF 6th Infantry Division organizes troops to join the CPX with CJTF and other task forces.

According to constitutional limitations the JSDF are well-ordered troops contingent in PKF operations only. The TNI also face the restriction of dispatching troops abroad for combat operations. Thus TNI and JSDF are unable to take part in peace enforcement training but they can be involved in peacekeeping operations. As a result the scenario and organizations must be changed. The CJTF HQ has adjusted the chain of command, the PKF are separated from Peace Enforcement and run their activity under the UN resolution, and this makes both countries able to join Cobra Gold 06 effectively.

The multilateral CPX is conducted in accordance with real world situations; it is focused on planning to confront critical situations, operations for Peace-enforcement, Peacekeeping operations, Peace-building, Anti terrorist, Information Operations, Logistical Operations, and Civil & Military Operations in Joint theater. It will be held May 15-25.
The bilateral field training exercise/marine operation exercise focuses on Joint Tactical Operations between Royal Thai Armed Forces and U.S. Armed Forces. Exercise activities include High Altitude High Opening operations, Military Operation in Urban Terrain (MOUT), Air Assault Operations, Night Vision Operations, Peace Operations, or Global Peace Operation Initiative (GPOI), Naval Warfare or Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW), Helo Raid, Air Combat, Anti- and Counterinsurgency, and Tactical Operation of Special Operation Forces for protection of natural gas platform in the gulf of Thailand. The exercise will be held May 15-25.

The humanitarian assistance (HA) consists of bilateral operations between the Royal Thai Armed Forces and U.S. Armed Forces. The budget for HA is contributed by the U.S. forces for six construction programs and nine medical care programs in Lopburi, Nakorn Nayok, Nakorn Ratchasima (Korat), Rayong, and Chanta Buri. The multi purpose buildings to be constructed will be handed over at the Dammarakniwes 2 project, Nong Moung, Lopburi on May 26, 2006.

Training phases: The exercises are to be conducted in 5 successive steps.

Step 1 Planning and arrangement, to coordinate for planning and prepare for exercise during September 2005 to March 2006

Step 2 Deployment: Thai and US troops and all participant nations move to the exercise areas; the deployments are conducted during April 10, to May 14, 2006.

Step 3 Start Exercise: The CJTF will be established at the Armed Forces Academy Preparatory School in Nakhon Nayok during May 15 to May 26, 2006 for management, exercise control, exercise evaluation, and support for the training units.

Step 4 Troop withdrawal: All CJTF HQ staff and participant nations move out after the end of the exercise by mid June 2006.

Step 5 Report: CJTF HQ convenes for meeting and wrap up lessons learned, and also send evaluation reports to Supreme Commander and Minister of Defense in Thailand by September 2006.

Training Area
Armed Forces Academy Preparatory School, Nakhon Nayok
Exercise Command HQ, CJTF HQ, PKF HQ, CARFOR, Combined PSYOP Task force

Wing 1 Nakhorn Ratchasima
Combined Army Forces (CARFOR)

Naval Aviation, Ban Chang, Rayong
Combined Naval Forces (CNAVFOR)

Marine Training Center, Sattahip
Combined Marine Forces (CMARFOR)

1st SPF Div Lopburi
Joint Combined Special Operation Task Force(JCSOTF)

The training areas will be launched in the rugged terrain of Nakhon Nayok, Lopburi, Nakorn Ratchasima, ChonBuri, Chantaburi, and in the gulf of Thailand.

Thailand — Cobra Gold 2006 kicked off with a bang as United States Marines from the 2nd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Division, joined the Royal Thai Air Force for explosive training on May 15th-16th.

As Marines dropped round after round of mortars to lay live suppressive ground fire and mark targets, Cobra helicopters and F-16 fighter jets roared past in a display of speed and aerial live fire to create the dazzling effect of light and ear-ringing blasts.

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jonathan Tulo described the difference between explosive and illumination rounds.?Some of the rounds are for destruction and some of the rounds are used as an air marker.? said Tulo, an infantryman with 2-5 Marines out of Camp Pendleton, California. Illumination rounds, which are used as air markers, are mortars rounds designed to illuminate the target area when fired.?We drop the rounds to mark the targets so when the air support is called in, they know where to aim,? said Tulo.

Not as cut and dry as it seems, the exercise is based on speed, ability and proficiency. Each group within the team training plays an equally important roll from the forward observers to the fire direction chief down to the mortar men, said Tulo.Though it?s training, and sleeping in the field in tents without showers seems harsh, it creates a sense of camaraderie and builds relationships between nations.?Because we?re a liaison company, we might get attached to a Thai infantry battalion and we?ll work with them as their ground forward air controller to control both their aircraft and ours,? said U.S. Marine Cpt. Briton Beck, company liaison officer for air naval gunfire liaison company.

Cobra Gold 2006 is an annual combined, joint training exercise held between Thai and U.S. military forces. However, this year also welcomes Singaporean, Indonesian and Japanese representatives to the command post exercise.The Cobra Gold exercise is a chance for young service members to delve into the exciting and different layers of international military organizations, and experience what other countries and armed forces have to offer.?This is my first trip to Thailand, and it wasn?t what I was expecting,? said Pvt. First Class Stefan Barnett, an infantryman with 2-5 Marine Inf. Regt. ?We?ve been to about six different countries in the past year, and this is one of the better field operations.?

Cobra Gold 2006 is designed to strengthen relationships between nations and military forces. In the long run, the hope is to work side by side during a crisis and know what to expect.?Cobra Gold is good chance for us to see how they work and for them to see how we work,? said Barnett. ?So if we ever go into combat with them, we know how they?re going to operate

PATTAYA, Thailand ?Marines and sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) made a special visit to the Pattaya Orphanage May 17 to provide needed labor and spend quality time with the children during Exercise Cobra Gold 2006.

Approximately 30 Marines and sailors with MEU Service Support Group 31, the MEU?s combat service support element, provided the all-volunteer force.

The Marines and sailors cut grass, painted walls, conducted repairs and did gardening. After eating lunch in the facility they continued the gardening work and proceeded to meet and play with the children.

The most important aspect of the community relation project was that the interaction between the children and the MSSG personnel played a very positive and significant role in the children?s lives and the facility?s personnel, said Navy Lt. Ed Cunha, the MSSG chaplain.?Community relations projects always have a way of building bridges with others and showing them that the United States has good intentions and we are here to help people,? said Cunha, a New Jersey native. ?They get to know us for who we really are and we also get to know more about them.?

He added that community relations projects are a win-win situation.?We also try to do these so the Marines and sailors appreciate the gift of life as they help those who cannot help themselves,? Cunha said.

Staff Sgt. Mario Pacheco, the MSSG embark chief, agreed that the Marines do this out of the goodness of their hearts.? This is something I?ve always wanted to do because I want to come out here and contribute to a good cause outside of the Marine Corps,? said the Fort Stockton, Texas native. ?It also shows the children that even though we?re Marines, we do other things than just fight.?

The MEU will be conducting numerous community relations events during their training in Cobra Gold.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Politics News

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