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Culminating event strengthens interoperability at Cobra Gold

US Marine Corps News

By Lance Cpl. Stephen Himes | III MEF | February 27, 2014

CHANTHABURI, Thailand -- The roar of jets overhead diverts the attention of the crowd to the sky as aircraft drop various types of ordinance. The rumble of tanks approaching is heard at the same time as the crack of the explosion. The combined arms live-fire exercise has started.

Marines from the Republic of Korea, Kingdom of Thailand and United States came together in CALFEX to officially mark the end of Cobra Gold 2014, Feb. 21 at Royal Thai Navy Tactical Training Center Ban Chan Krem, Kingdom of Thailand.

"Today's combined arms live-fire exercise was a chance for U.S. Marines to integrate with Royal Thai and Republic of Korea Marines," said Capt. Joseph Mozzi, a fire-support coordinator with 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. "The militaries coordinated surface direct fire, as well as indirect fire and air support."

The Royal Thai and U.S. Marines spent the week training alongside each other in preparation for this event.

"We come from different countries with different ideas," said Royal Thai Rear Adm. Tanin Likitawong, the amphibious warfare squadron commander for the Royal Thai Marine Corps. "This past week hasn't just been training for CALFEX. We've been establishing a relationship that will allow us cooperate closely to maintain peace and stability in the region."

As the aircraft left the area, mechanized infantry units rolled in to offer suppressive fire while the artillery rained down high-explosive rounds from a few miles away.

This event was a demonstration of the capabilities of the combined forces involved, according to Lt. Col. Brad Tippett, commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force under the unit deployment program. This iteration of CALFEX provided an amazing opportunity for observers to witness seamless integration.

The U.S. Marine Corps is designed to integrate U.S. and partner-nation armed forces to allow them to utilize Marine Air-Ground Task Force fire support, according to Mozzi. This event was a good example of how U.S. Marine air and indirect fires can support foreign military force.

"In a traditional battlefield you may see a Thai battalion operating adjacent to a U.S. Marine Corp unit," said Mozzi. "They would receive support from the MAGTF commander to maximize the use of available fire-support."

A major key element of Cobra Gold is the reinforcing bond between the United States and its friends in the Asian-Pacific to improve the stability and security in the region.

"Cobra Gold is a combined joint exercise," said Likitawong. "This kind of exercise is about enhancing the understanding of how each country works to keep this region in peace and stable."

As CALFEX and CG 14 ended, Marines from every nation involved visibly expressed their gratitude for the experience of a successful training evolution to further strengthen regional security.

Working with Marines from the Republic of Korea and U.S. has been great, according to Likitawong. This iteration of Cobra Gold has been very successful as both sides have learned much from each other. There is much anticipation for next year.

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