HAT YAO – Thailand -Royal Thai, Republic of Korea and U.S. Marines demonstrated a combined amphibious assault Feb. 14 at Hat Yao Beach, Kingdom of Thailand, during Exercise Cobra Gold 2014.
“We have three different countries and their forces, both Marines and sailors, participating in today’s exercise,” said Maj. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy III, the commanding general for 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “It highlights the commitment by those countries to have this capability within their countries, within their militaries, and it’s a unique capability in the world.”
Land, air and sea assets from all the three nations were utilized during this multinational training event, beginning with small unit reconnaissance teams infiltrating the beach to secure the shore for the main force to follow. While the assault amphibious vehicles were approaching the shore, two U.S. Marine FA-18 Hornets and two Royal Thai Air Force F-16 Falcons made multiple passes over the beach as demolition exploded in the water. With the beachhead secured by the reconnaissance Marines and aircraft, the combined landing force stormed out of the AAVs from the surf.
“The training today went very well,” said Clardy. “They hit the beach when they were supposed to. You can see the combined capabilities and how they were all working together to achieve their objectives.”
Training with partner nations provides a venue where all forces can learn from one another and exercise their interoperability.
“It’s definitely a good experience for the Marines to get out here and train with the other nations,” said 1st Lt. John Sheehan, a platoon commander with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF under the unit deployment program. “This gives the Marines an idea of how everyone operates and shows that other forces on the battlefield can share the same perspective.”
Not only does this training enhance and increase the capabilities of participating forces, it also provides the Marines with a sense of inspiration.
“It feels great to conduct this exercise,” said Cpl. Brain Engeldrum, an assistant squad leader with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. “I have a real sense of pride knowing we can work together with other units and other nations like Thailand and Korea.”
Following the demonstration, the Thai, Korean and U.S. distinguished visitors of CG 14 came down from the observation post to commend the multinational force and thank them for a job well done.
“It provided an opportunity to increase our interoperability between the nations,” said Clardy. “They all worked really well together and did it in a professional manner.”
Even though the language barrier in a large-scale exercise like CG 14 can pose a challenge, the amphibious landing went as planned, showing that interoperability between nations is a tangible goal even with cultural barriers.
“What I hope we got from this exercise the most is friendship,” said Adm. Pithan Viankhunthod, the Secretary of the Royal Thai Navy. “Not just a friendship, but a long-lasting one that we can hold on to even after this exercise. I believe (friendship) is the most important part of working with other nations and keeping strong ties.”
Viankhunthod is also looking forward to new long-lasting relationships in future exercises.
“Hopefully with other nations seeing these three countries working together today and becoming closer, other nations will want to participate next year in the exercise,” said Viankhunthod. “I encourage other countries to come out and be a part of this great thing.”