PHITSANULOK, Thailand - Five schools within the Kingdom of Thailand hosted ceremonies Feb. 18-21 to dedicate the newly completed building each school is receiving as exercise Cobra Gold 2013 concludes.
As the largest multinational exercise in the Asia-Pacific region, Cobra Gold has demonstrated the commitment of partner nations to enhancing interoperability of military forces, strengthening of regional relationships, and the promotion of security and cooperation within the region.
Ceremonies began earlier in the week in Chaing Mai and Trat provinces where service members from Thailand, the U.S., Indonesia and Malaysia worked side-by-side to construct the multipurpose buildings.
“This symbolizes our commitment to our communities—not only the U.S. and the Kingdom of Thailand, but certainly our other partner nations who helped contribute to this building,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Raquel C. Bono, command surgeon of U.S. Pacific Command.
During the last five weeks, service members at each site performed vertical construction of a single-story, 25-foot wide, 60-foot long concrete masonry unit with 12 windows, six doors and internal electrical distribution, including outlets, switches, fans and fluorescent lighting.
Each building will accommodate up to approximately 60 additional students and have two partitions, allowing it to be divided into as many as three classrooms to maximize the use of space to separate students by grade, curriculum and learning level.
“Thank you for your work, long days, blood, sweat, tears and heart that all of you have put into this project,” said Brig. Gen. Niel E. Nelson, commanding general, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, during a ceremony Feb. 20 at Ban Kuad Nam Man School in the Chat Trakarn District. “I know you are extremely proud of the building you have created, and I hope you will continue to foster the friendships you have created over the last few weeks.”
Phitsanulok province, which is where Thai, U.S. and Singapore service members completed three of the buildings, also hosted ceremonies to acknowledge the tremendous multinational effort during the engineering civic assistance projects. These efforts will ultimately provide improved environments in which children can learn.
“On behalf of all of the people in Phitsanulok province, I want to thank all of the (multinational) militaries who participated in Cobra Gold 2013,” said Preecha Ruengan, governor of Phitsanulok province. “This building will allow more students to receive the education they deserve.”
The culminating ceremony for the projects was at Ban Hau Wang Krang Elementary School. U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand, Kristie Kenney, attended the event and expressed her gratitude. She knows firsthand the importance of education.
“I am the daughter of a school teacher, so nothing means more to me than education and giving young people the best possible place to study,” said Kenney. “Today, we see exactly that, a beautiful school that shows what we achieve in today’s world when nations work together.”
Multinational involvement in CG 13 exemplifies the true spirit of the exercise: commitment to cooperation and supporting peace and stability throughout the region.
“Today, we see a school that our militaries worked together to build. It is a great honor and a privilege, as a civilian, to see the work that our armed forces do to help build for our citizen’s better futures, better health, better education, and of course, great safety and security,” concluded Kenney.