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CTF 76 Begins Cobra Gold 2007 in Thailand

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070510-13
Release Date: 5/10/2007 6:17:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Adam R. Cole, Task Force 76 Public Affairs

PATTYA, Thailand (NNS) -- As ships, units and accompanying personnel of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7/Task Force 76 and the Royal Thai Navy finalized details and plans for upcoming training, the start of the 26th iteration of Cobra Gold was made official with a ceremony and briefing May 8.

Cobra Gold 07, being conducted through May 18, is a regularly scheduled multinational exercise. It is the latest in the continuing series of U.S.-Thai military exercises designed to ensure regional peace and strengthen the ability of the Royal Thai armed forces to defend Thailand or respond to regional contingencies.

Participating countries include Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and the United States. A host of other nations were involved in the planning and a number of others will be observers during the exercise. Australia, Brunei, South Korea, Canada, United Kingdom, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Mongolia have been invited to be observers during the different phases of the exercise.

Featured activities include a United Nations (U.N.) peacekeeping computer-simulated staff exercise, field-training exercises throughout Thailand and several humanitarian, civic action projects.

The field training portion will solely pair U.S.-Thai service members while all five participating countries will work together in the other elements of Cobra Gold.

"Cobra Gold presents not only a great opportunity for U.S.-Thai Sailors, Airman, Marines, and Soldiers to conduct joint training in a number of mission areas, it allows us to practice our coordination abilities from a staff perspective so that we can operate as a combined task group if need be to maintain regional stability," said Rear Adm. Carol M. Pottenger, Commander ESG 7 and the Combined Naval Forces (NAVFOR) Deputy Commander of the exercise.

"We look forward to working with the Thais and those from Singapore, Indonesia and Japan. Because if a contingency were to occur, it would take the cooperation and combined effort of all of us."

The command post staff exercise will be conducted from a U.N. peacekeeping scenario, whereby two neighboring countries deploy military force in relation to a disputed country. Cobra Cold participants will have to work together, across all services, to get the fictionalized nations to draw down their forces and allow for the insertion of U.N. peacekeepers.

The remote possibility of a scenario such as this was the point of emphasis U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to Thailand Alexander A. Arvizu made during his remarks at the exercise's opening ceremony.

Arvizu mentioned that shortly after Cobra Gold in 2004, the Southeast Asia tsunami happened and many of the participants were working closely together to coordinate disaster relief.

“So the training we are doing is very important, and the understanding of each other from working together is just as important,” said Arvizu. “What we are embarking here with this exercise is truly a multinational affair and symbolizes the sense of multinational cooperation I know forces from each nation will leave here with.”

Field training for the NAVFOR will take place in the mission areas of mine countermeasures, security/force protection, explosive ordnance disposal and diving.

Involved assets include the USS Guardian (MCM 5) and embarked Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5 Detachment 51, and Guam-based units Mobile Mine Assembly Unit 10, EODMU 5 dive personnel and Mobile Security Squadron 7.

Also contributing to the exercise will be an estimated 50 Reservists from ESG 7 Reserve Detachment 218 from St. Louis, who annually support Cobra Gold as part of their active training.

Counterparts from each nation began to meet, exchange courtesies, and initial operational thoughts following the opening ceremony. Participating service members are enthusiastic about the prospects of the exercise.

“I am looking forward to working with the U.S. Navy and other navies,” said Royal Thai Navy Lt. Cmdr. Natee Mungkala, commanding officer of a Thai gunnery ship who will be participating in the staff exercise. “It is good for cooperation and also making friends.”

Information Systems Technician 1st Class (SW) George Herbert, with Mine Countermeasures Squadron 1, said he is looking forward to the exercise from both an operational and a friendship perspective.

“I think any time you get to work with people of other navies -- just to interact with them and get a sense of who they are -- is beneficial,” said Herbert, who will be engaged in the mine countermeasures portion.

“With my job being about communications, I’m going to really take a close look at how we can improve our COMMS [communications] and have more interoperability. You never know when we might need to pass a message regarding mines in the water that could keep our ships out of danger.”

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