News: US, Thai Marines practice urban combat during Cobra Gold 2012
Story by Cpl. Jonathan Wright
HAT YAO, Thailand - Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit integrated with elements of the Royal Thai Marine Corps to instruct and execute military operations in urban terrain as part of Cobra Gold 2012 here, Feb. 16.
Marines with Company B, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 31st MEU, educated their foreign military counterparts on U.S. Marine techniques of military operations in urban terrain while the Thais themselves meshed into the various attacking and defending squads to get first-hand experience of the training.
“As one squad attacks a designated building, the squad inside will be spread throughout taking up defense positions,” said Sgt. Benjamin Eastman, squad leader with B Company, BLT 1/4, 31st MEU. “Every squad will switch between attacking and defending, but the important part is that Thai Marines are paired up with each Marine to offer that element of bilateral operations.”
With the integrated Marines laying a plan of attack based off both nation’s strengths and the surrounding cover, they tactically maneuvered into position with the Thai Marines close at their partners’ hip. Fire teams swept up into flanking positions while machine gun support was given from covered areas, laying the initial assault into the building. Near their partners, the Thai Marines observed and practiced how to properly pie windows and doorways, assist Marines through windows and clear rooms.
As one sweaty squad, following their clearing of the building, switched gears into the defensive position, the Thai Marines took the downtime between assaults to go over skill areas that might be unclear or to discuss the military operations in urban terrain training that is rare for them.
“We only do this kind of training once a year while the American Marines do it all the time,” said Recruit Sakda Fundyai, a Royal Thai Marine. “Not only is working with them fun, but we’re learning a lot about attacking and defending around buildings than we usually do.”
The Royal Thai Marines are not expeditionary by rule, but the training they received during military operations in urban terrain exercises is another step toward making bilateral operations with the Thais more effective for any future operations in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The term ‘interoperability’ has been used a lot during this month, but there’s nothing closer to the truth when talking about multinational ties,” said Eastman. “It’s a teach and learn friendship where everyone has something to offer, and at the end of the day we all are that much closer to being able to easily blend with each other during an operation.”
Under the heavy blanket of smoke from spent ammunition and the popping of rifle fire, smiles flashed across the faces of the Thai Marines as they either kicked in doors or sprinted from cover to cover with their U.S. counterparts. Despite the language barrier, the Marines of both nations feel comfortable in fighting together.
“When you know what to do, the language difference is not much of a problem,” said Fundyai. “We signal with the U.S. Marines and we kill the bad guys.”
Cobra Gold 2012 demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.