UTAPAO, Thailand — Cobra Gold, a multilateral training exercise hosted by the Kingdom of Thailand and U.S. Army, Pacific, allows coalition servicemembers the opportunity to train together and become familiar with the way various nations operate.
This year, in addition to regularly scheduled field and command post training, U.S. service members are learning the Defense Connect Online system. DCO is a distributed communications system which allows users to connect to a secured shared network from multiple locations around the world.
U.S. has used this system for years, but it's new to coalition forces , said Col. Alan Neyland, deputy of operations assigned to I Corps (Forward), U.S. Army, Japan,.
"[Service members] were very amazed, when they first came in here and witnessed how quiet it is. They're used to a very noisy command operations center with information passed across tables and a lot of chatter going on," he said. "But with this system all the information is passed through headsets."
Lt. j.g. Ekapat Wathanaronchai, communications officer with the Royal Thai Navy, said it was his first time using the system and though he's not as familiar with it, he believes it will be a useful tool.
"It can be utilized in many ways and many missions," he said. "Communications is a key factor in any mission, so once you get communication with all the coalition countries the mission runs smoothly."
The system allows users to communicate in real world time and receive immediate feedback. It can be used in many situations including Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, peace enforcement or small scale contingency operations, Neyland said. The system also connects people worldwide.
"Instead of having a thousand people in one room for a meeting, they can be in 10 different locations, connect to the system and be in the same meetings and conferences," said Neyland. "Right now we're in Thailand and we have people tied in from the main command posts back in Hawaii and Japan who are going to listen to an update. Basically anywhere in the world, once you are on, you're part of a collaborate system and [involved] in the meeting."
Since most recent operations are carried out by coalition forces, it's imperative to train all service members to use Defense Connect Online correctly, he added.
"These are the systems we're familiar with and allow us to reach back through multiple organizations and draw information. It's very important for all coalition members to these systems."