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Royal Thai, ROK and U.S. Marines Conduct a Joint Amphibious Landing

6 Feb 2010 | Lance Cpl. Jovane Holland

More than 500 Marine and Naval forces from the Kingdom of Thailand, the Republic of South Korea and the U.S. stormed the beach during a mock amphibious assault as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2010, Feb. 4.   The purpose of the mock amphibious assault was to orchestrate a forcible entry and get troops ashore in a simulated hostile situation while collaborating with different militaries, said Lt. Col. Stuart Lockhart, executive officer, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF).

"Amphibious landings are part of our Marine Corps history," Lockhart said. "It is important that we test ourselves on our knowledge and work with our counterparts to perfect our skills as a united force."

The exercise began with groups of reconnaissance Marines maneuvering Combat Rubber Raiding Crafts (CRRCs) from ship to shore, securing a perimeter and locking on target objectives set in place for follow-on forces.

While the Marines surveyed the area from the beach, Thai paratroopers soared through the sky, providing an aerial set of eyes and landed behind enemy lines to secure the objective.

Clearing the beach of obstacles followed, with close air support from two AH-1W Super Cobras, and two AV-8B Harrier II jets.  Controlled explosives were detonated to simulate the dropping of ordnances during the air strikes.

Once the beach was clear, 24 amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs) pushed ashore after gliding across the sea from more than 5,000 yards away.

The AAVs stormed the beach in two separate waves, the first consisting of Royal Thai and U.S. Marines, the second of Royal Thai and Republic of Korea Marines.

Once the AAVs secured the area Marines dismounted the vehicles to continue the assault inland, conducting fire team buddy rushes until they reached their objective and secured the overall area.

During the assault support phase of the evolution, a Royal Thai SH-70, U.S. CH-46 Sea Knight and CH-53E super stallion helicopters inserted additional forces to secure a landing zone in close proximity to the objective. 

"All of our big toys came out to play today," said the MEU executive officer.

According to Navy Capt. Don Schmieley, Commodore of Amphibious Squadron 11 (PHIBRON 11) and the forward deployed USS Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG),
the entire course of action lasted less than an hour, but in a real life situation, the process would take additional detailed planning before executing such a complex mission.

"Everything has to be timed and completely synchronized on every side," said the Commodore. "With that in mind, it is of the utmost importance that we rehearse the process of moving air and surface equipment in an assault, especially when working in a coalition capacity."

Nearly two months of developing a refined plan, the demonstration was executed exceptionally, Lockhart said.

"We're all Marines and sailors," Lockhart said. "Despite our differences, we have similar doctrines, and that's why this exercise was such a success."

Cobra Gold is a regularly scheduled joint and coalition multinational exercise hosted annually by the Kingdom of Thailand. This year marks the 29th iteration for the exercise, which consists of a Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative Exercise, Command Post Exercise, Humanitarian, and Civic Action projects and field training exercises.

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit