News: Multinational forces observe, train for culminating live-fire exercise
Story by Lance Cpl. Jose Lujano
SUKHOTHAI, Thailand - Royal Thai soldiers observed small-unit fire and maneuver training conducted by Republic of Korea and U.S. soldiers Feb. 15 at a training range in Ban Dan Lan Hoi District, Sukhothai province, Kingdom of Thailand, as part of exercise Cobra Gold 2013.
The purpose of the training is to improve interoperability between the multinational forces while perfecting weapons-systems skills and sharpening maneuver skills for the combined-arms live-fire exercise Feb. 21.
The Thai soldiers are with 7th Regiment, 7th Division, 3rd Region, Royal Thai Army. The ROK and U.S. soldiers are with 1st Platoon, Baker Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division out of Camp Casey, ROK. The ROK soldiers are attached to 2/9 as part of the Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army, also known as KATUSA.
While commitments in the Middle East are decreasing, efforts in the Asia-Pacific region are increasing, according to U.S. Army soldier 2nd Lt. Jake D. Bunch, an infantry officer with the 1st Platoon.
“Therefore, training in all types of terrains in a joint setting is crucial in sustaining the power of the multinational force.”
While 1st Platoon is not the platoon participating in the CALFEX, they still can pass knowledge to their counterparts while honing weapons skills in the jungle terrain, he added.
The training began with ROK and U.S. soldiers performing rehearsals. Following the rehearsals, they began patrolling and surveying the area before the assault. All the while, Royal Thai soldiers analyzed the details of their counterparts’ movements.
The soldiers patrolled at a moderate pace, creating a gap of approximately 15 feet from one another in the dense vegetation, according to Thai soldier 2nd Lt. Kittipong Wongyai, an infantry officer with the Royal Thai Army.
“As I observe the soldiers, I saw the importance of keeping proper dispersion when my unit is weaving in and out of thick terrain,” said Wongyai.
At the end of their patrol, the service members designated points of attack for every fire team.
“During the preparation of the attack, stealth was the name of the game,” said ROK soldier Pfc. Wooyong Kim, an infantryman with 1st Platoon. “The first bang during the barrage of fire downrange changed the name of the game—attack.”
Service members maneuvered in teams, suppressing and eliminating the simulated enemy by employing several hundred rounds of ammunition between the M4 rifles, M249 squad automatic weapons, and M240B medium machine gun.
“This being the first time I’ve trained outside of the Republic of Korea. I am learning skills to ensure I can operate in this terrain and be more effective with my weapon,” said Kim.
Observing the jungle training allows Royal Thai soldiers to effectively prepare for their participation in the CALFEX.
The Royal Thai soldiers will use what they observed today to improve their skills and have the opportunity to apply them Feb. 17, four days before the culminating live-fire exercise.
“Working closely with the U.S. and ROK soldiers, my unit has learned valuable skills that will improve our mission during the CALFEX and future exercises,” concluded Wongyai.