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Marines show off guns during Cobra Gold

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200551662045
Story by Lance Cpl. Karim D. Delgado

TAK, Thailand (May 5, 2005) -- More than 100 Marines with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, Combined Marine Forces, Cobra Gold, participated in a live-fire training exercise held here May 5 as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2005.

The Marines fired M2 .50 caliber machine guns, M240G medium machine guns, MK19 40mm machine guns and M249 squad automatic weapons.

“We’re training gun crews for the sake of familiarization,” said Lt. Col. Robert Plantz, executive officer for 12th Marines. “It is a consolidated effort to train Marines so they can use these weapons efficiently, should they need to.”

The exercise is an annual Cobra Gold event and rotates between various ranges located throughout Thailand, according to Plantz.

“We rotate between similar training areas,” Plantz said. “Last year, the Marines fired in Lopburi (Thailand). It’s pretty much the same (at every range.) Hilly, open terrain really is ideal for this kind of training.”

Plantz explained that Thailand offers certain advantages over training in Japan.

“Range space is very limited on Okinawa,” Plantz said. “For one, you’re not allowed to fire towards mountains like we’re doing here. The firing range here is also a lot larger and more open, which allows us to train more efficiently with these kinds of weapons.”

Though there were not as many restrictions at the ranges here as are in place at Camp Hansen on Okinawa, safety was still a major concern, according to Staff Sgt. Duane C. Patton, a range safety officer with 12th Marines.

“Safety is as much a big a concern here as it is any time you’re operating these kinds of weapons,” Patton said. “These Marines do not fire unless I tell them to, and stop on my command. They wear their flak jackets and Kevlar helmets on the firing line and all must wear earplugs. Training and safety come hand in hand. That won’t ever change, no matter where we are training.”

Some Marines at the range vocalized their excitement over the training and explained that they welcomed the unique experience to fire weapons in a foreign land.

“It’s a really great experience for me,” said Pfc. Joshawa T. Myers, a machine gunner with 3/12. “It’s been a while since I’ve fired these kinds of guns, and this kind of remediation will definitely help me out in the long run.”

Royal Thai Army soldiers from the 4th Royal Thai Infantry Division also attended the training exercise to witness the training.


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