U.S. exercise strengthens Pacific relationships
By Cpl. Jonathan LopezCruet, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific
THAILAND -- After 10 days of training side-by-side and creating a better environment for local citizens. Thailand and the U.S. concluded co-hosting the largest multinational military exercise in Asia, Feb. 19.
Approximately 1,500 U.S. Marines, 1,000 U.S. soldiers, 450 U.S. sailors, 275 U.S. airmen, and another 300 from small units and commands came together with Royal Thai service members to participate in the 35th iteration of Exercise Cobra Gold. The annual, multilateral exercise took place in various areas in the Kingdom of Thailand.
“Cobra Gold secures the future by supporting stability, interoperability, readiness and fostering effective peacekeeping mission,” said Glyn T. Davies, the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand.
This year, Cobra Gold brought together over two dozen nations with a focus to build and strengthen regional cooperation, allowing for improvement in regional security and ensuring effective responses to regional crises.
The exercise consisted of three primary components, a command post exercise, or CPX, humanitarian civic assistance, or HCA, with a military medical symposium and a field training exercise, or FTX.
The CPX was a computer-based scenario exercise where various nations work together to conduct and overcome maritime security counter-piracy scenarios.
Its goal was to force the different nations to work as a multinational team.
The HCA events and the medical symposium assisted with improving quality of life for the local Thai community. The symposium also helped raise awareness and understanding of prevention of disease threats.
“With the humanitarian civic action, the multination medical symposium and the non-combatant evacuation exercise, we are only improving our response to any future disasters,” said Sgt. Jessica Brisbin, an airframe mechanic with Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262, Marine Aircraft Group, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
During the FTX, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and counterpart nations participated in various events, like jungle survival training, amphibious capabilities demonstrations, special patrol insertion/extraction training and helocast training.
By joining together and creating a joint task force, many nations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region were able to accomplish the mission.
“We already have strong bonds and partnerships with our allies, and I hope when we leave Cobra Gold  that those same bonds and partnerships are ... stronger,” said Brig. Gen. Russell A. Sanborn, the commanding general of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
From helocasting and amphibious landings, to drinking blood straight from a cobra snake, U.S., Thai and the Republic of Korea Marines created strong bonds and friendships for future relations.
“We have been partners with Thailand for more than 180 years. One of the great things about this relationship is that it keeps growing to include other nations,” Sanborn said.