News: Live-fire mortar training a blast for Thai, US forces
Story by Lance Cpl. Adam Miller
BAN CHAN KREM, Kingdom of Thailand – Thai and U.S. forces geared up for live-fire mortar training missions Feb. 12 at Ban Chan Krem, Kingdom of Thailand, during the field training portion of multinational exercise Cobra Gold 2013.
“We integrated our 81mm mortar platoon with essentially the Royal Thai Marine equivalent, which is structured very similarly to ours,” said U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Charles Eberly, an infantry officer and platoon leader for weapons company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. The battalion is attached to 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, as part of the Marine Corps unit deployment program.
Eberly explained that the tactical billets their Thai counterparts have—which are associated to the types of weapons system the Thais employ—closely resemble that of the U.S. Marine Corps.
The field training exercises during CG 13 are designed to advance regional security and ensure effective response to regional crises by exercising a vigorous multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region.
“I know (the Royal Thai Marines’) mortar system very well, but getting a chance to train with the (U.S.) Marines and learning how they conduct their missions helps make me better at my job,” said Thai Marine Petty Officer 1st Class Tepvaree Saysoikawe, a gunner with the 81mm mortar section, 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry for the Royal Thai Marines.
Royal Thai Marines units were partnered with their U.S. Marine Corps equivalent during one portion of field training at Ban Chan Krem.
“The best thing about this experience is being able to teach the Royal Thai Marines how we operate our weapon system,” said U.S. Marine Sgt. Chad R. Pauls, a mortarman and squad leader with the 81mm mortars platoon. “I love what I do, and it is unique, but it is fascinating to me how similarly we operate our weapons systems.”
The Marines also had the opportunity to examine and practice with the Thai Marines’ weapon system. The Thais use an M29A1 81mm mortar, U.S. Marines operate with an M252 81mm mortar.
“On a small level, the purpose of this training is to make personal relationships with our Royal Thai Marine counterparts,” said Eberly. “If we had a few thousand more personal relationships like this, then our Marine Corps and theirs would be exponentially better, and I think that is precisely what we are doing here.”
Cobra Gold is a recurring, multinational and multiservice exercise hosted annually by Thailand and developed by the Thai and U.S. militaries. Forces from Thailand, the U.S., Japan, Republic of Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia are conducting training designed to enhance interoperability and strengthen regional relationships.
The Marine Corps unit deployment program rotates U.S.-based units to III MEF in Japan for six months and is designed to provide the rotational unit unique training opportunities and augment the capabilities of III MEF.