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Alaska Soldiers train with Thai army

Feb 14, 2011

By Staff Sgt. Matthew E. Winstead, 4/25 ABCT PAO

CAMP ERAWAN, Thailand - Soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment spent the Feb. 10 cross-training on weapons and tactics at Camp Erawan, Thailand, with members of the Royal Thai Army's 3-31st Infantry Regiment, King's Guard.

The training allows the paratroopers based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska and those from Thailand to experience the methods and drills of the other and get hands-on experience with weapons systems.

"A lot of what we do is very similar," Staff Sgt. Alex Janey, a squad leader in A Co., 3-509th said. "But there are some differences. For instance, we use body armor that dictates how we stand when we engage a target so that we ensure the most out of our ballistic protection."

The U.S. and Thai forces spent the day drilling on the American M-4 rifle and the Thai TAVOR-21, both of which are 5.56 caliber weapons. Once they established a basic level of understanding, they were able to use both at a live-fire range.

Thai and U.S. Soldiers discovered a few weapons systems and tactics in common.

"We both use the M-240 Bravo machine gun," said Staff Sgt. Seth De Kam, weapons squad leader with 1st platoon, A Co., 3-509th. "There are actually very little differences in how we employ them."

The similarities were obvious during drills in which Pfc. Herb Hernandez and his assistant gunner Pvt. 2 Brandon Mosley almost perfectly mirrored their Thai counterparts.

"These guys are good," Mosley said, a heavy roll of sweat on his brow. "These guys can keep up with us in a gun drill. They're very well trained."

In addition to the reflexive fire drills and weapons training, the Thai and U.S. forces also traded squad level movement tactics and military operations in urban terrain, or MOUT, techniques involving methods of entering and clearing buildings.

Cobra Gold 2011 is a regularly scheduled joint and coalition multinational exercise and is the latest in the continuing series of U.S.-Thai military exercises designed to ensure regional peace and stability. The exercise also strengthens the Thai government's self-defense abilities and its capability to respond to regional contingencies.

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