HAT YAO, Kingdom of Thailand -- Surrounded by thick jungle as far as the eye can see, a Marine separated from his unit must come to the realization that survival requires effort. Finding food, water and shelter is the difference between life and death. From the leaves on the trees to the bugs crawling across the ground, anything in the vicinity can either harm or help.
Royal Thai Marines instructed their U.S. counterparts from the Maritime Raid Force, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, on jungle survival techniques during a class as part of exercise Cobra Gold 2013 here, Feb. 20.
In the 32nd iteration of exercise Cobra Gold, a multilateral training event where numerous countries in the Asia-Pacific region work side-by-side, the jungle survival portion placed the Royal Thai Marines in the definitive role of instructor while the MEU Marines were the pupils.
“This is the Thai’s home, it is the environment they were raised in,” said Sgt. Robert Dominguez, a squad leader with the MRF Platoon, 31st MEU, and a native of Selma, Calif. “Most of the Marines here are accustomed to the desert environment with hardly any knowledge on how to live off of the jungle.”
Chief Petty Officer First Class Veing Pimsorn, a Royal Thai reconnaissance Marine, provided lessons in obtaining shelter and water, identifying edible plants and fruits found in the Thai jungles, and how to properly prepare and eat each item.
The attentive class, of about 90 students, was able to sample the various delicacies of the jungle as the training progressed. The group passed around various leaves and roots, exotic fruit, and fried insects to experience the flavors of the jungle.
The Royal Thai Marine instructor also trained the troops in the capture, handling, preparation and ingestion of a king cobra snake. The training involved a handling demonstration with three snakes, practical application by the MRF, followed by killing and preparing the snakes. Marines had the opportunity to voluntarily drink the nutritionally-packed cobra blood.
“Drinking the blood of the king cobra is a survival technique used to maintain hydration deep in the jungle,” said Pimsorn. “With all of these techniques combined, an isolated U.S. or Thai Marine could survive off the jungle.”
The training ended with U.S. and Thai Marines sharing a bounty of fruit, insects and snake under a crop of trees. Although a fun experience for all, the real gain for the MRF was familiarity with another region of the world.
“They know the jungle a lot better than we do,” said Sgt. Robert A. Cole, a squad leader with the MRF, 31st MEU, and a native of Klamath Falls, Oreg. “This training will broaden our horizons, so we can fight anywhere.”
Cobra Gold 2013 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 only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.