NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Kingdom of Thailand – U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. Christopher S. Owens, commanding general of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, visited Wing One Royal Thai Air Force Base, Nakhon Ratchasima, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 10 before the start of exercise Cobra Gold 2013.
During his visit, Owens met with the commanding officer of Wing One, greeted U.S. Marine forces participating in CG 13, and gave words of encouragement to the combined Thai and U.S. forces at a mass briefing aboard the base.
“I’m looking forward to sharing ideas between the allies and our forces, and everybody gaining a little bit from that opportunity,” said Owens. “Secondly, and we’ve already done this to a degree, we want to demonstrate the expeditionary capability of our Marine forces.”
Owens made note of the MV-22B Osprey and other aircraft supporting CG 13, the largest multinational exercise in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Bringing the (Osprey) to the theater has been huge for us and virtually everything that the aircraft do here is a demonstration of that capability to pick up, go long distances rapidly, and then bring a tremendous amount of capability on the ground once they arrive,” said Owens.
The Osprey has a proven track record assisting in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, supporting recovery and combat operations, and participating in multiple Marine Expeditionary Unit deployments.
“So, this exercise is our first multilateral exercise involving the aircraft in the Pacific, and just having it here and integrating it with our allies and partners in some [parts] of the exercises is going to be huge for us,” added Owens.
U.S. involvement and collaboration with regional allies and partner nations during CG 13 better prepares a coordinated response to crises.
“I think Cobra Gold is one of our best opportunities to work with our allies and break down any friction points so we can come together quickly and operate; and also, to stretch ourselves in our expeditionary capability,” said Owens. “There is an enormous amount we can learn from each other and capitalize on opportunities. We also have the opportunity to refine our skills as aviators and demonstrate our new tactics, capabilities and the benefits of integrating our aviation in ground operations.”
Exercises like CG 13 allow the U.S. to join with partner countries to achieve mutual security goals, address shared concerns, and continue to develop and enhance relationships.
“It’s important for the U.S. and Thailand to train together because we’ve had such good long-term relationships,” said Thai Air Force Group Capt. Ponlawat Intaravised, deputy commander of Wing One. “Our main objective is to continue to build relationships and share opinions about the training, flight training, planning, and execution and share the lessons learned together.”
Approximately 13,000 military personnel from Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, Japan, Republic of Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as observers from countries throughout the Pacific, are participating in CG 13.
“Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen, welcome to Cobra Gold 2013,” said Owens. “As you can see by looking around you, we are very fortunate to have many aircraft and aircrews from different communities and countries participating in this year’s exercise; that is a great thing.”
While Owens pointed out the significance of the multinational training, he also emphasized the importance of safety during all activities, and focused on risk management and accountability.
“I challenge each of you to keep a vigilant lookout for those things that will hinder or negate our success in the air, on the ground and on liberty,” said Owens. “You will succeed by conducting all operations in the Kingdom of Thailand as professionals executing all operations in a deliberate, well planned and well thought out manner. This is an exercise; nothing we do here is worth bending an aircraft or getting someone hurt in the air or on the ground. Let’s have an educational, productive and fulfilling exercise. Keep it safe and have some fun.”
Thailand and the U.S. have shared a long-standing relationship for 180 years, a partnership that the U.S. has enjoyed with Thailand longer than any other country in Asia.