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Cobra Gold

Cobra Gold 02

The armed forces of Thailand, Singapore and the United States conducted Cobra Gold '02 in Thailand from May 14-28. Cobra Gold is an annual joint/combined exercise, the latest in a series of U.S. and 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. Actual exercise costs for Cobra Gold 2002 are not available, but the U.S. budgeted roughly $30 million for the exercise.

Cobra Gold '02 is one of the largest exercises involving U.S. forces in the Pacific command this year. This year's exercise focused the participants on peace enforcement operations and included the planning and execution of noncombatant evacuation operations. These types of military operations are increasingly called for in today's world. A recent example is the multinational peacekeeping effort in East Timor in which the armed forces of the United States, Thailand, Australia and Singapore were involved.

As in all previous Cobra Gold exercises, this year's exercise included joint land, sea and air operations. The exercise also assisted the people of Thailand through combined Thai-U.S. medical and civil affairs projects. The purpose of Cobra Gold 2002 is to improve U.S., Thai and Singaporean combat readiness and combined-joint interoperability, enhance security relationships and demonstrate U.S. resolve to support the security and humanitarian interests of friends and allies in the region.

About 14,000 U.S. personnel participated, including elements of the U.S. Army Pacific Command; U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific; U.S. Pacific Air Forces; Special Operations Command Pacific; Air Combat Command; Air Mobility Command; Military Sealift Command; and reserve elements from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. More than 4,000 U.S. Marines participated in Cobra Gold 2002. The III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF, headquartered on Okinawa, Japan) provided personnel for the joint exercise control group. Elements of III MEF's 3d Force Service Support Group (3d FSSG), 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade (3d MEB), 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (1st MAW), 7th Communications Battalion, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and some elements of Marine Forces Reserve also participated.

Participating Thai forces numbered approximately 7,000 and included elements of the Royal Thai army, navy, marine corps and air force.

Eight MSC and MSC-chartered ships participated in Cobra Gold '02 - MV Green Cove, MV Pacific Leader, MV Green Wave, USNS Seay, MV 1st Lt. Jack Lummus, MV PFC Dewayne T. Williams, SS Gopher State and HSV WestPac Express. The high-speed vessel, WestPac Express, is one of MSC's newest contract ships. The twin-hull ship transports U.S. Marines and equipment in the Pacific area.

Marines and sailors from Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron-3 offloaded approximately 700 pieces of cargo, May 3-11, to support exercise Cobra Gold 2002, a U.S. joint task force training evolution with Royal Thai Armed Forces and Singapore Armed Forces participating. MPSRON-3, based out of Guam and Saipan, is one of three squadrons making up a Maritime Prepositioning Force, responsible for efficiently providing gear to troops in any part of the world and in this case; MPSRON-3 provides Marine Corps and Navy cargo ranging from small generators to M-1 A-1 tanks.

Singapore has been part of Cobra Gold in the past. They have been observers in the Cobra Gold series of exercises for a number of years. In continuing efforts to make the training in this exercise more realistic and relevant to the U.S. and its allies in the region, the RTSC invited Singapore to participate. Multilateral responses to regional contingencies, such as we have seen recently in East Timor, are likely to be the norm in the future.

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