Saturday, February 5, 2011

U.S, Thai forces join to improve multinational interoperability

2/3/2011  By Lance Cpl. Miranda Blackburn  , Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni 

KORAT ROYAL THAI AIR FORCE BASE, Thailand  — Marines and sailors participating in Cobra Gold 2011 arrived at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, Jan. 27.
Marine Attack Squadron 211, Marine Aircraft Group 12, Marine Aviation logistics Squadron 12, Marine Air Control Squadron 4 and Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 are all taking part in the monthlong exercise.
The exercise is scheduled to begin Monday, but Marines and sailors arrived early to prepare for the mission.
As they arrived, they began setting up equipment, scheduling flight plans, situating missions and organizing units.
Cobra Gold is an annual exercise that demonstrates joint and multinational capabilities and improves interoperability between the United States and Thailand.
The joint/combined exercise is designed to ensure regional peace and strengthen the Royal Thai Armed Forces defensive tactics and response measures.
While VMA-211 and VMFA(AW)-242 are performing flight operations, MAG-12, MALS-12 and MACS-4 will be supporting them from the ground.
Units from Okinawa, Japan, are joining the exercise to provide the ground combat element of the exercise as well.
“We’re like one big working machine,” said Lance Cpl. Samuel Roberto, an air traffic controller for MACS-4. “We all have to work together to make sure the mission gets accomplished.”
The purpose of the training is to show the U.S. forces’ support to the pacific region by working with the Thai military in order to maintain peace and stability in the region.
“We’ve had a long, good relationship with the Thai military, and every year it’s great to come and work with the Thai to keep those friendships up and have the opportunity to work side-by-side with a foreign country and their military,” said Lt. Col. Richard E. Petersen, VMFA(AW)-242 commanding officer.
Cobra Gold will focus on building operational readiness in tactics, equipment and logistical support for both U.S. and Thai forces.
“It is always good to be able to work with Marines,” said Thai Air Force Sgt. Akkarat Paek, a logistical support specialist. “By working together, both the U.S. and Thai militaries learn from each other.”
During the exercise, both countries plan to conduct close-air support and strike missions, as well as perform preflight planning, briefing and debriefing to produce joint after-action reports.
The Marines should gain a better understanding of the Thai culture by working in a combined atmosphere with a foreign country and coordinating flight operations of two different countries, Petersen said.

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