HAT KLOD, Thailand (Feb. 9, 2009) – --
One-hundred Royal Thailand service members and 36 U.S. Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, came together to exchange expertise and ideas in the field of Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear defense bilateral training during Exercise Cobra Gold 2009, Feb. 8-10.
The CBRN Marines were afforded the opportunity to observe and train alongside the Royal Thai Nuclear Biological Chemical defense specialists, exchanging training, tactics and comparing equipment.
“The training has two advantages,” said Royal Thai Navy Capt. Taewan Sucharitwongsanonf, a staff member of Thailand’s Naval Science Department. “We are able to share our knowledge with one another, and it allows us to have a better idea of what we need to improve.”
Sucharitwongsanonf also cited enhancements of the host-country’s equipment, training and operations.
The Royal Thai service members spent the first day of the class taking notes and receiving lectures on proper procedures of using equipment as well as techniques for “donning and clearing” a field protective mask.
During the second day of instruction, the Marines introduced their Thai counterparts to Mission Oriented Protective Posture suits, specialized clothing designed to protect service members in the event of a chemical, biological or radiological attack. Also included were techniques for safely maneuvering about while wearing the suit and instruction regarding immediate actions that should be taken in such an event.
On the third and final day, practical application allowed the troops an opportunity to put into practice the techniques they learned throughout the class.
“They were anxious to participate and volunteered for the (practical application opportunities) every chance they had,” said Cpl. Natasha Lussier, a CBRN defense specialist and the headquarters CBRN chief for Combat Logistics Battalion 31. “It was amazing how interested they were,” Lussier said. “I had no idea we would be able to teach each other this much. It was a great experience.”
Day three also held benefit for the U.S. Marines as the Royal Thai service members demonstrated a piece of equipment new to the exercise and developed by the Royal Thai military. The Multi-Purpose Decontamination Machine is a mobile, truck-mounted, deployable device used to decontaminate some of the largest pieces of equipment in the Thai arsenal. The Royal Thai service members demonstrated the MPD machine by driving in a “contaminated” Royal Thai Marine Amphibious Assault Vehicle and allowing the U.S. counterparts an opportunity to get some hands-on experience with the machine and the Thai decontamination process.
U.S. Marine Chief Warrant Officer 3 Alexsander Hernandez, the 31st MEU’s NBRC officer, said the opportunity demonstrated that, despite differences in equipment, both the U.S. and Royal Thai service members share the same concerns when it comes to potential contamination and having a solid plan to combat potential threats.
“I think it was uplifting to both sides because it was used as a training reinforcement tool that demonstrates that like-minded countries can work together using similar procedures and equipment that fits their needs.”
Sucharitwongsanonf echoed Hernandez’ sentiment and added the training opportunity was invaluable to the Royal Thai service members.
“We try to take away as much knowledge and information as possible,” Sucharitwongsanonf said. “Exchanges like this can only help us get better.”
The CBRN defense training is one of many bilateral training events taking place throughout Thailand during Cobra Gold ’09. The exercise focuses on military interoperability training and strengthening the long-standing partnership between the Royal Thai and U.S. Armed Forces.