News: Opening ceremony kicks off Exercise Cobra Gold 2014
Story by Cpl. James Smith
NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand - Service members from 1st Marine Air Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, gathered with the Royal Thai Air Force aboard Wing One Royal Thai Air Force Base, Nakhon Ratchasima, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 9 for the opening ceremony of Exercise Cobra Gold 2014.
CG 14 is a joint, multinational exercise conducted annually in the Kingdom of Thailand aimed at enhancing and increasing multinational interoperability.
Royal Thai Air Force members presented a brief that provided information of the base, points of contact for key personnel and highlighted significant events of the exercise. These events include a combined arms live fire exercise, joint hazardous materials and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training and an amphibious landing scenario.
“This exercise builds a good relationship between the two nations and provides the opportunity to drop ordnance and fly in a larger airspace compared to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni,” said Lance Cpl. Austin Boatright, motor transportation operator with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171. “The language barrier makes operations a little difficult, but the Thai military seems to be comfortable working with us.”
Throughout the ceremony, Group Capt. Ponlawat Intarawised, deputy commander for Wing One, Royal Thai Air Force, and Col. Daniel Wilson, chief of staff for 3rd Marine Division, III MEF, introduced themselves to all in attendance.
“I encourage everyone to get to know each other on a personal level beyond the professional interactions that we will have,” said Wilson. “In my experience, the personal relationships that service members build often lead to better diplomatic relationships between our countries.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, service members assembled at an icebreaker gathering where U.S. and Thai military members used the opportunity to socialize and create bonds with one another.
“A better relationship between our countries allows us to cooperate more closely in pursuing the real threats in the world like extremists and terrorists,” said Wilson. “We are all eager to begin the exercise. I wish that everyone participating leaves the exercise enriched with new knowledge, experience and stronger, personal relationships.”