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Photo Information

U.S. Marine Col. Christopher J. Papaj, right, presents a gift to one of the students who performed a traditional Thai dance during the dedication ceremony for a new classroom constructed at Ban Nam Chiao Elementary School in Lam Ngob District, Trat province, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 19. Royal Thai and U.S. Marines constructed the classroom as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2013. CG 13 participants are conducting engineering civic assistance projects, cooperative health engagements and other civil-military activities in Thailand to promote regional prosperity, security and cooperation among partner militaries. Papaj is the assistant wing commander with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

Photo by Sgt. Matthew Troyer

Exercise Cobra Gold 2013 concludes

28 Feb 2013 | 1st Lt. Evan A. Almaas Marine Corps Installations Pacific

Exercise Cobra Gold 2013 concluded Feb. 22 with the dedication of the last of five school additions, a bilateral combined-arms live-fire exercise and the official closing ceremony.

Royal Thai Gen. Worapong Sangnetra, deputy chief of Defense Forces, and U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. Terry G. Robling, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, as well a number of dignitaries, observed the bilateral combined-arms live-fire exercise. Royal Thai Army Maj. Gen. Wittaya Wachirakul, CG 13 exercise deputy director, also attended.

“The U.S. and Thailand have a very strong relationship,” said Wachirakul. “We hope we will have a chance to expand our interoperability and strengthen each other even more in the future.”

During the combined-arms live-fire exercise, Marines and soldiers from both the Royal Thai Armed Forces and U.S. military seized a simulated objective. The event began with a barrage of U.S. and Thailand artillery and mortar fire, followed by the maneuver of ground forces. Once ground forces eliminated the notional enemy’s air defense capability, Thailand and U.S. fighter jets dropped ordnance to allow the ground forces to move to and seize the objective. The event demonstrated the ability of a combined Thailand-U.S. force, using both air and ground assets, to rapidly close with and destroy an objective.

“It’s been a good opportunity working with the Royal Thai Armed Forces,” said U.S. Marine Capt. Benjamin J. Vanzytveld, lead Cobra Gold planner for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. “It’s given us the opportunity to get to know them as individuals, understand their culture a little better, and understand how they operate so we can better integrate their efforts with ours in the future.”

In Phitsanulok province, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Kristie A. Kenney and Governor of Phitsanulok province Preecha Ruangchan attended the dedication ceremony for a new 1,500 square-foot building at Ban Hua Wang Ta Krang Elementary School, the final dedication ceremony for the five additions to elementary schools constructed throughout the Kingdom of Thailand during CG 13.

“Today, we see a school (addition) that our militaries worked together to build,” said Kenney. “A beautiful school that shows what we achieve in today’s world when nations work together. It is a great honor and privilege, as a civilian, to see the work that our armed forces do to help build for our citizens’ better futures, health, education and of course, greater safety and security.”

Elsewhere, forces conducted a mock tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel operation, Thailand and U.S. service members conducted an aircraft rescue and firefighting drill, and U.S. military members volunteered their time to help disabled women through grounds-keeping at the women’s center.

Cobra Gold is the largest multinational exercise in the Asia-Pacific region. During CG 13, 13,000 service members from seven nations joined together, along with observers from many other nations, teaming their collective experience, knowledge and expertise to discuss responses to crises and natural disasters, give to the local community through engineering and medical projects, and increase interoperability while sharing best practices during field training exercises.