News: Counter WMD training unites U.S., Thai Forces during Exercise Cobra Gold 2014
Story by Cpl. James Smith
NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand - Service members from 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force united with Royal Thai Air Force and Royal Thai Navy during counter weapons of mass destruction training aboard Wing One Royal Thai Air Force Base, Nakhon Ratchasima, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 16 during Exercise Cobra Gold 2014.
CG 14 is a joint, multinational exercise conducted annually in the Kingdom of Thailand aimed at enhancing and increasing mission readiness and multinational interoperability.
The training integrated numerous entities including chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear defense specialists, explosive ordnance disposal and medical first responders from both the United States and the Kingdom of Thailand.
“This is one of eight missionaries for the National Military Strategy to counter weapons of mass destruction,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jonathan Davis, CBRN officer with Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st MAW, III MEF. “We exchange tactics, techniques and procedures and we see how each other operate when it comes to chemical reconnaissance and decontamination.”
With three different units combining together for training, U.S. and Thai forces organized training into subject matter expert groups before culminating together into one group.
“The way we’ve done the training here is through a series of classes from each side,” said Davis. “We teach classes and provide demonstrations, and then the Thai military teach classes and provide demonstrations so that way we start using each other’s TTPs.”
After numerous lessons and several demonstrations, their training prepared them for a joint exercise challenging their skills.
The training scenario had U.S. and Thai forces responding to a mock natural disaster to provide humanitarian aid. The scenario involved simulated terrorists that sought to take control of the area. They released two pretend gas cylinders of a simulated toxic liquefied compressed gas into the area along with planting mock improvised explosive devices to deter rescue efforts.
U.S. and Thai forces combined together through the training scenario to contain the chemical, neutralize the IED and rescued injured personnel in the area.
“It’s a very rare opportunity to be able to come to a foreign country and perform this type of training,” said Cpl. Shelby Baron, CBRN defense specialist with MAG-12. “Counter WMD is a higher echelon of control and it’s difficult to coordinate with three different commands combining into one unit.”
The combined efforts of all participating members led to a successful execution of the mission with minor incidents. The event’s importance also attracted the attention of local media outlets, as well as Thai generals and admirals.
“I just wanted to thank the Royal Thai Air Force and Royal Thai Navy for allowing us to participate in this exercise,” said Lt. Col. Bill Sheridan, executive officer with MAG-12. “This exercise was a perfect example of how we can break down into the smallest levels and fully integrate into interoperable sections and perform very complex training. I’ve been very impressed from what I’ve seen from my Marines and the Royal Thai service members participating with us.”
Now that U.S. CBRN defense specialists and Royal Thai armed forces had the ability to exchange and practice life-saving TTPs, Both sides can work together proficiently if disaster does strike.