Officials visit training site

III Marine Expeditionary Force
Story by Lance Cpl. Matthew Manning

Date: 02.14.2012
Posted: 02.14.2012 05:18
News ID: 83816
Officials visit training site

RAYONG, Kingdom of Thailand - Officials from the Kingdom of Thailand, U.S., Japan, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Republic of the Philippines visited the Non-combatant Evacuation Operation training site during Exercise Cobra Gold here Feb. 12.

As the officials toured the training site, Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, explained the purposes and functions of each section.

Visiting officials included Melissa Foynes, regional security officer for the Kingdom of Thailand, and Brig. Gen. Craig C. Crenshaw, commanding general, III Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

As the officials toured the training site, Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, explained the purposes and functions of each section.

“One station the visitors were interested in is the NEO Tracking System,” said U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Eric Ayende, data chief CLB-31. "The registration station is where we put them into the NTS by taking down as much information as we can.”

The NTS is where Marines will process information about who the evacuees are regardless of their country, according to Ayende.

“It doesn’t matter what nation they are with,” said Ayende. “To put them into the system we just need their first and last name as well as some type of identifier about them. After doing this we will give them a bracelet which enables us to identify them a lot easier no matter what point they are at in the NEO.”

During Exercise Cobra Gold 2012, the focus of training is not only to better the operational readiness of the Marines but also to improve joint operating capabilities. “For all the services and countries here participating, this event is one which we have continually tried to improve on,” said Crenshaw. “This year we have made it a little larger and it is important for all the right reasons. It gives us the opportunity to learn from each country the way they conduct operational procedures.”

According to Crenshaw, working with other countries is the most crucial part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2012. “This is the 31st Cobra Gold exercise, and each year it gets bigger and bigger,” said Crenshaw. “The value of exercises like this is we are able to create relationships, deep relationships that allow us to respond to crisis as required. As recent as Operation Tomodachi, where we had a great relationship with the Japanese forces and country, we were able to respond quickly to address their needs and we will continue to do that.”

The Marines conducting the NEO were able to accommodate a variety of needs evacuees may have. “We can also accommodate for disabilities so any wheelchairs or oxygen tanks someone might need we are able to provide,” said Ayende. “When conducting a NEO in another country we will have their military integrated with ours to optimize evacuation efforts. We do not have them separated from us because we might not know the customs and courtesies for interacting for their nation or they might have important officials come in and we would not know who they are.”

Multi-lateral training exercises like the NEO improve the operational readiness of not just the U.S. Marine Corps but every nation training as well.

“When we have to go to those types of operations we know who we are working with and are able to understand the differences between us and because of these exercises we are able to conduct joint operations,” said Crenshaw.