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Marines deploy to Cobra Gold 2004

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 5/12/2004

Story by Rose A. Muth

NAHA PORT, Okinawa, Japan (May 6, 2004) -- Approximately 5,800 Marines from different units throughout Okinawa are heading for Thailand in support of Cobra Gold 2004, scheduled for May 13-27.

Cobra Gold is a joint-combined exercise, and the largest exercise involving U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region. The exercise is designed to improve combat readiness of U.S., Thailand, Singapore, Mongolian, and Philippines armed forces, as well as provide humanitarian assistance, according to Col. George Dallas, commanding officer, 3d Marine Division.

There are three main events slated for Cobra Gold, the first exercise being a command post exercise, stated Dallas, who has participated in the past two Cobra Gold exercises.

The idea of the command post exercise is to bring together all service members, American and foreign to train in commanding and controlling issues at a combined-joint task force-level, Dallas explained.

"The second event is the humanitarian assistance operation," Dallas said. "This gives the United States an opportunity to provide community and humanitarian assistance to Thailand."

The last event is the field training exercise, and involves all elements of the Marine Air Ground Task Force in seven different locations throughout Thailand.

This exercise will provide an opportunity for III Marine Expeditionary Force to train not only at a small unit-level, but bring air-fire, surface-fire, and maneuver-fire together, according to Dallas.

"We do not have a lot of opportunities to bring all those elements together at one time," Dallas said. "This training exercise will allow us to gain the necessary training of basic blocking and tackling drills that we must know as Marines to win on the battlefield."

The exercise is not just about learning, it is also about building strong professional relationships. According to Dallas, the relationship between the U.S. and Thailand has become better over the last two years, Dallas said.

"For example, over the last two years, we have been able to expand tactical training from some very basic skills, to integrating the air/ground team. We have gone from a small, joint training-level, to controlling integrated operations. We can only do that because of our relationship with the Thai's. We have built on that relationship and worked with them closely over the last two years," Dallas explained.

Doing things today to plan for the future, is a motto that Dallas hopes to attribute to the success of Cobra Gold 2004.

"Everything that we do today is used to build on what we currently have, so we can give our Marines the best opportunities to train to their required skill for our mission essential tasks for the future," Dallas explained. "You've got to build the relationships first, and that's what I think we've done over the last few years."



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