HAT YAO BEACH, Kingdom of Thailand --
Royal Thai and U.S. Marines maneuvered around the objective area, setting up blocking positions to deny the enemy escape, as three helicopters descended to deliver the raid force, during exercise Cobra Gold 2011.
As they touched down, Marines with the Maritime Raid Force, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade rapidly exited and began their assault during a mock raid Feb. 16.
They quickly moved into position, stacking up beside a door of the target building, preparing to breach and clear it, as other Marines engaged targets and took prisoners in the immediate area.
“The objective of today’s exercise was to clear the target building, and eliminate or capture any enemy combatants,” said Staff Sgt. David J. Stiehler, an instructor with the special missions branch, special operations training group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “It was also an evaluation of the Maritime Raid Force and how they worked as a whole.”
The raid, a bilateral exercise between Royal Thai and U.S. Marines, was a good chance for both sides to learn more about each other.
“Bilateral operations like this allow the Thais and U.S. to interact on a one-on-one basis,” said Stiehler. “It allowed us all to see what our operations were, and I think they saw a lot more similarities then they expected too.”
While the exercise was a good way for the Royal Thai and U.S. Marines to interact and get to know each other, it was still taken seriously by both sides.
“Overall they did well,” said Stiehler. “They went in and accomplished the mission they were sent here to do. The Thai’s were good too. They all have a high level of training and they are on par with any special operations units I’ve ever worked with.”
When the exercise was over, the Marines felt they had gained something from the experience.
“Not only was this fun, but it was a great way to learn something,” said Cpl. Kile N. Kratzer, an ammunition technician with SOTG, and a role player for the exercise. “We saw that we do things one way, and they do some things another, so it was cool to get to work with them and see how everything was combined.”
For three decades, Thailand has hosted Cobra Gold, one of the largest land-based, joint, combined military training exercises in the world. Cobra Gold started out as a bilateral exercise, but has since grown to include Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea as full participants and dozens of other countries as official observers.
The training conducted today by the MRF, 31st MEU helps ensure theater security cooperation as partner nations continue to train together.