U.S. Marines helocast with Royal Thai, Republic of Korea Marines during Cobra Gold 16
By Cpl. Thor Larson, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit
LATOWAN, Thailand --
Royal Thai, Republic of Korea and U.S. Marines helocasted from an MV-22B Osprey Feb. 10, 2016 for the first time in a joint environment during exercise Cobra Gold 16 in Thailand.
Cobra Gold is an exercise that increases cooperation, interoperability and collaboration among partner nations in order to achieve effective solutions to common challenges.
Helocasting is a technique used by reconnaissance teams to insert into maritime environments. Other platforms regularly conduct helocasting missions, but for the Osprey this was one of the first times it has been done.
Helocasting is part of the MV-22’s training and readiness syllabus, according to U.S. Marine Maj. Arturo Guzman, the squadron director of safety and standardization for Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. The Osprey’s operational test and evaluation squadron conducted helocasting most recently in 2008 to validate the Osprey’s ability and collect data. VMM-262’s goal while conducting the helocasting operations during CG16 was to gather more data and either recommend or not recommend it as a useful tactic for the battlefield.
“After Cobra Gold, our recommendation is that it is absolutely a viable tactic,” said Guzman. “We conducted this in a crawl, walk, run approach. First was a simulator, then a fresh water lake and salt water in Okinawa, Japan with no personnel. The last step was during Cobra Gold in Thailand with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Maritime Raid Force, Royal Thai and ROK Marine Recon teams.”
The exercise is a great opportunity to build on Marine units’ capabilities while also building stronger relations with our partner nations in the Pacific region, according to U.S. Marine Capt. Chad Bainbridge, the Platoon Commander for the Amphibious Reconnaissance Platoon, MRF, 31st MEU.
“This is the first time we’ve ever helocasted from an Osprey and the first time anyone’s helocasted from an Osprey alongside our partner nations,” said Bainbridge. “Completing this mission alongside our Thai and ROK counterparts is very beneficial to building upon our abilities to work together.”
Cobra Gold, in its 35th iteration, is designed to build both the U.S. and its partner nation’s capabilities in planning and executing complex and realistic operations. The helocast conducted alongside their partners enable participants from all three militaries to build their capabilities in a developing technique.
“It was an honor to be one of the first Koreans to helocast from the Osprey,” said Republic of Korea Gunnery Sgt. Hong, Suck Joon, a ROK Reconnaissance Marine. “I very much appreciate the training with the U.S. Marines and Thai marines during Cobra Gold.”