HAT YAO, Kingdom of Thailand --
More than 130 U.S. Marines with Company A, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, launched from the USS Tortuga and stormed Hat Yao beach with 40 of their Royal Thai Marine counterparts during a small boat raid here, Feb. 8.
The bilateral raid focusing on increasing the interoperability of the Royal Thai Marines and the U.S. Marines, took place during Exercise Cobra Gold 2012, an annual exercise hosted by the Kingdom of Thailand for the past 31 years.
During the raid, Royal Thai Marines, which according to their company commander are enhancing their combat rubber raiding craft operations, had a chance to work hand-in-hand with U.S. Marines and exchange some of the techniques, tactics and procedures each service practices.
“This was my first time ever training with Thai Marines,” said Cpl. Richard Rosales, a squad leader with Company A, BLT 1/4, 31st MEU. “It was actually pretty easy because even though we are new to training with them, they knew what we were doing. It seems like they are getting used to us already, we just signal to where we are going and they roll with us.”
The objective of the raid was to seize a small town occupied by hostile forces. To do this, the Royal Thai and U.S. Marines worked together as a team, with the Royal Thai Marines taking the right flank, and U.S. Marines taking the left.
“The Thai and U.S. Marines did really well,” said 1st Lt. Kyle M. Padilla, the boat platoon commander with Company A, BLT 1/4, 31st MEU. “There are always points of friction when you work with outside units, and in this case there wasn’t a lot of time to cross talk and coordinate. With language barriers, and people that don’t operate the same as you do on the boats, it adds a different aspect to consider, but the Marines adapted to the situation and performed pretty good.”
The U.S. Marines had the chance to teach the Royal Thai Marines a little bit about how they operated in the water, and in urban terrain, and the Royal Thai Marines have skills they can teach the U.S. Marines as well.
“The U.S. Marines can learn something from Thailand because the terrain here is not like the terrain in the U.S.,” said 1st Lt. Bodin Suntud, a platoon commander for the Royal Thai Marine Corps. “We have jungle here, and hot and humid weather, so we can teach U.S. Marines and train them to work in foreign countries throughout the Pacific.”
Although just an exercise, the Marines from both nations that participated understood the importance of the bilateral training exercise and why it was being conducted.
“When you look at different conflicts, the U.S. doesn’t go into those conflicts alone,” said Padilla. “That why we have this bilateral training with allied countries. If we find ourselves in a real situation, we are going to be working with the Thai’s in the Pacific, we are going to be working with the Koreans, we are going to find ourselves with our allies in the region. Training like this is extremely important. We are working out the kinks now, so if we do have to do real operations, we have a very smooth transition.”
As the exercise concluded and the Marines of both nations began to head back toward the boats, they had a moment to reflect on their experience of working together and the mission that had been accomplished.
“Both Thai and U.S. Marines learned a lot because they have to be very professional at their jobs, and we learned that together,” said Suntud. “We were also able to increase interoperability through the training, so when the real thing happens we can go in and meet each other and know what to do.”
CG 2012 demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the U.S.’s expeditionary force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.