News: School construction builds strong foundation for Exercise Cobra Gold
Story by Staff Sgt. Ken Melton
OKINAWA, Japan - The Royal Thai military along with U.S. forces from various units began construction projects in the Kingdom of Thailand, preceding the official opening of Exercise Cobra Gold 2012.
Exercise Cobra Gold is an annual multinational, multiservice exercise, hosted by the Kingdom of Thailand and developed in coordination with the United States. This year’s exercise marks the 31st iteration of the event designed to advance security throughout the Asia-Pacific region and enhance interoperability with participating nations.
“Cobra Gold 2012 demonstrates the U.S. commitment to our long-standing ally Thailand,” said Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck Jr., deputy commander of CG 12 and commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force. “Through the exercise, III MEF is continuing to develop regional partnerships, increase prosperity and improve security in the Asia-Pacific region.”
More than 13,000 service members from a variety of nations, including the Kingdom of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, Republic of Korea and the United States, will participate in the exercise.
Other nations that have been invited to participate in the exercise as part of the Multinational Planning Augmentation Team include Australia, France, Canada, the United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Italy, India, Nepal, Republic of the Philippines and Vietnam.
The exercise will feature a variety of events throughout the country, including a senior leader seminar, allowing information sharing and relationship building between key leaders from partner nations; a computer-simulated command post exercise, focusing on peace-enforcement operations; field training exercises, featuring combined arms training; and humanitarian and civic assistance projects, including medical and engineering civic action projects like building schools.
Marines and Thai personnel began building a school in Ban Lang Kao Jan. 17.
“We are here to help (our Thai counterparts) build the school, to learn from them, to teach them what we have to offer them also,” said Lance Cpl. Alex Wisecup, a combat engineer with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, Marine Wing Support Group 17, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
After a small dedication ceremony, work began on the school that is one of six structures under construction over the next month.
“The opening ceremonies at each of the six HCA sites were performed in accordance with the traditional Thai ground-breaking ceremony called Yok Sao Eak, which means, ‘Stand up the first pillar,’” said Capt. Amelia J. Griffith, a civil affairs team leader for the exercise. “To mark the occasion, a ceremonial ribbon was tied around the first column to be raised in construction.”
HCA projects play an important part in Cobra Gold.
“HCA activities are very important because they improve the quality of life and local infrastructure for the Thai people while at the same time increasing the interoperability skills of U.S., Thai and multinational forces,” said Griffith.
The multinational exercise will also provide medical, dental, optometry and veterinary services to the local Thai people. Some of these activities will also contribute toward the current flood recovery efforts.
“The local (population has) been very receptive to the presence of U.S., Thai and multinational forces working on HCA projects in their respective communities,” said Griffith.
CG 12 is scheduled to officially commence with an opening ceremony Feb. 7 and run through Feb. 17. For continued coverage of activities before and during the exercise, visit www.facebook.com/ExerciseCobraGold.