News: Alaska paratroopers kick off Cobra Gold 2011 in Thailand
Story by Staff Sgt. Matthew Winstead
CAMP ERAWAN, Thailand - Soldiers from U.S. Army Alaska's 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division were among the units representing the United States, Feb. 8, at an opening ceremony for Exercise Cobra Gold 2011 here.
The 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment soldiers, based at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Alaska, stood alongside members of the 3rd Marines Logistics Group and the King's Guard of the Royal Thai Army at the ceremony, which shadowed the multinational exercise's main opening event Feb. 7 in Chiang Mai.
Cobra Gold is a regularly scheduled joint and coalition multinational exercise hosted annually by the Kingdom of Thailand. Cobra Gold 2011 is the latest in a continuing series of exercises designed to promote regional peace and security.
The Camp Erawan ceremony highlighted the importance of joint training and was an opportunity for the participating nations to demonstrate some of their tactics.
Soldiers from the 3-509th performed squad maneuver tactics and a simulated medical evacuation.
Members of the Royal Thai Army showed how they react to enemy contact and clear enemy objectives with precise flanking movements, fire support and radio communication.
Since arriving in Thailand Feb. 1, the Alaska soldiers have been adjusting to the warm climate and preparing for joint operations with physical training and weapons and tactics training.
"More repetitions on the rifle range never hurt," Lt. Col. Shawn Daniel, 3-509th commander said. "Most of these soldiers didn't grow up hunting or shooting, so the muscle memory associated with shooting well must come from hours spent on the range. The opportunity for ranges prior to the opening ceremony were of great value"
The soldiers have also been getting cultural awareness classes from members of the Royal Thai Army and have been encouraged to experience Thai culture in their off time.
Many soldiers took the opportunity to sightsee and explore the neighboring city of Lop Buri.
"While the exercise is the priority for this trip, the cultural experience of seeing life in Thailand outside the gates of Camp Erawan was a great opportunity for the soldiers," Daniel said.
Many soldiers welcomed the break from rigorous mountain and jungle training.
"It was great to get out and relax for a bit," said Cpl. Daniel Dekorte of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, based in Fort Shafter, Hawaii. "Training is good and all, but you can only do so much of it before you overload. Plus, it was cool to get out and experience such a different culture."
The soldiers will train on a multitude of joint military operations during their stay in Thailand and will regularly engage in cultural events as they progress toward the closing ceremony, slated for Feb. 17.