In The New: Exercise Cobra Gold 2009
[size=5][b]War games in paradise[/b][/size]
[b]Welcome to Cobra Gold, the largest US military exercise in Asia.[/b]
By Patrick Winn - GlobalPost
Published: February 18, 2009 18:47 ET
Updated: February 19, 2009 15:57 ET-A +A
A Thai marine aims his weapon during an amphibious assault exercise as part of the Cobra Gold '09 joint military exercise at a military base in Chonburi Province, east of Bangkok Feb. 13, 2009. (Sukree Sukplang/*******)
[b]HAT YAO BEACH, THAILAND — Before the assault, this tawny-sanded coastline was at peace. In the hazy beyond, the USS Essex appeared only in silhouette.[/b]
Then came fighter jets, ripping the sky apart. And amphibious assault vehicles, tearing through the surf. And attack choppers and hovercraft until, finally, this stretch of shorefront belonged to several hundred heavily-armed U.S. and Thai marines.
As with every exercise in Cobra Gold, this dizzying military orchestra was a dress rehearsal. The largest annual display of American military strength on Asian soil, Cobra Gold gives U.S. and Thai troops two weeks to prepare for a slew of worst-case scenarios: weather crises and armed invasions among them.
[b]Roughly 7,200 American troops, 4,000 troops from the Royal Thai Armed Forces and a smattering from Singapore, Japan and Indonesia participate in Cobra Gold, which ended Tuesday. The event has taken place since 1982 and continues a Thai-U.S. military friendship forged in the 1960s, when both countries fought against a communist sweep in Southeast Asia.[/b]
Among Cobra Gold’s dozen-odd major exercises, few are more intense than the beach storming led by the Iraq-seasoned 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. In roughly one hour, about 500 U.S. and Thai troops proved they can transform a serene beach into an occupied battle zone.
[b]So what's the stated purpose of this $14.1 million exercise? Readying a combined force of U.S.-Thai marines and sailors to rescue civilians from hostage areas, said Col. Paul Damren, commander of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. “You might also use this type of landing … to provide humanitarian assistance when the situation was a bit uncertain.”[/b]
[b]It began at 10:03 a.m. on Feb. 13. Four Harrier fighter jets were the first to arrive, launched from the distant USS Essex. They appeared as flinty specks in the tropic sky before, suddenly, diving into view to reveal the missiles racked to their underbellies.
The jets’ mock airstrikes readied the beach for a wave of amphibious assault vehicles, called AVs. These brutish machines, squat and armored, are fitted with two manned turrets on top. Inside each vehicle, marines endured a dark cabin thick with diesel fumes. Seawater sloshed at their boots until they mounted the beach, whipping up grit in every direction and slashing the sand with tread marks.
As the AVs sounded mechanized grunts and pushed into the jungly interior, helicopters circled overhead. First came Apaches, attack choppers with slender frames to ward off enemy missile attacks. Fat-bodied Hueys followed. Packed with marines, they touched down briefly and the troops rushed out from rear ramps.
The men raced into the briar-choked terrain, parting the knee-high saw grass, and took up positions. Hovercraft, barge-like vehicles called “Landing Craft Air-Cushioned,” were the last to arrive. Though broad and more vulnerable to attacks, they can be loaded down with supplies: rice sacks, medical gear or more weapons.[/b]
When the mission was complete, great plumes of sand had yet to settle over the coastline. The surf lapped at ragged tread marks torn into the beach. Thais and U.S. marines alike, still crouching in the grass, awaited the “all clear” and a final exercise briefing.
[b]“The time to figure out how to work with each other is not … in crisis or combat,” said Lt. Gen. Keith Stalder, commander of Marine Forces Pacific. “You absolutely have to do that before the bullets are flying.”[/b]
Though the shadow of Cyclone Nargis hung over all of Cobra Gold, it seemed particularly dark over this beach assault.
During Cobra Gold last May, Cyclone Nargis ravaged neighboring Burma, eventually leaving nearly 140,000 dead. Cobra Gold’s U.S. and Thai leaders made entreaties to the Burmese junta, pushing the military government to allow thousands of troops to enter the storm-battered coast.
But Burmese leaders, forever paranoid about foreign intervention, resisted. And Cobra Gold troops continued playing out mock disaster-relief scenarios as a real-life horror show took place next door.
[b]As the death toll soared, the U.S. briefly hinted at forced humanitarian aid. But 10 days after Nargis hit, Burma eventually allowed the U.S. to drop off $1 million in aid packages — a mere trickle of the needed relief.
The Hat Yao beach assault is in some ways a look at how Thai and U.S. forces would have flooded the Burmese coast with aid.[/b]
The USS Essex, a large assault ship, and the USS Harpers Ferry, a smaller vessel, both waited off Burma’s coast for nearly a month in hopes Burma would allow them to deliver relief packages.
Both vessels also took part in this year’s Thai beach assault. And, according to Army Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, Cobra Gold’s U.S. commander, the marines who stormed Hat Yao belong to the same units that would rush into Southeast Asia if disaster strikes again.
[b]“The marines are ready to something like that if they need to,” Stalder said. “They realize that if something happens like another cyclone, they’ll be ready to respond.”[/b]
Visit the link and you can see the VDO of Cobra Gold. :D
Official VDO From RTN.
In The News: Exercise Cope Tiger 2009
[B][SIZE="4"]Multinational exercise Cope Tiger 2009 kicks off [/SIZE][/B]
[quote]Multinational exercise Cope Tiger 2009 kicks off
Multinational exercise Cope Tiger 2009 kicks off
U.S., Thai and Singaporean aircrew members listen to an operations brief on March 8 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in preparation for Cope Tiger 2009. Cope Tiger is an annual, multilateral large force aerial exercise conducted in Thailand including U.S., Thai and Singaporean military forces. The two-week exercise includes both flying and humanitarian missions conducted in Korat and Udon Thani, Thailand. Cope Tiger 2009 kicked off March 9 and will conclude March 20. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Angelique [/quote]
by Capt. Erika Yepsen
13th Air Expeditionary Wing-CT09 Public Affairs
[B]3/10/2009 - KORAT, Thailand (AFNS) -- The first flights of Cope Tiger 2009 launched March 9, filling the sky above Thailand with fighter aircraft and signaling the 15th year of partnership between the United States, Thailand and Singapore militaries. [/B]
Cope Tiger is an annual, multilateral aerial exercise which divides Thai, Singaporean and U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps aircraft into two mixed groups, pitting them against each other in a mock battle.
[B]"The first few days we start off with small numbers of aircraft against each other, like two versus two, then we build into mini-large force exercises with approximately 10 versus 20 aircraft," said Capt. Jeff Watts, officer in charge of the Live Fly Cell, deployed from the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, Japan. "Then we'll get into the large force exercise where we'll have about 50 aircraft versus 15." [/B]
More than 1,200 U.S. servicemembers and 55 aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps are participating in this year's exercise.
Along with their Thai and Singaporean counterparts, U.S. aircrews will conduct dissimilar basic fighter maneuvers training, dissimilar air combat tactics training, close-air-support training, tactical airdrop training and large force employment training at both Korat and Udon Thani Royal Thai air force bases.
[B]"The sharing of culture and ideas was the keystone of the actual exercise," said Navy Lt. Tom Jillson, an F/A-18E pilot from Carrier Air Wing 5, Naval Air Facility-Atsugi in Japan, describing his experience in Cope Tiger 2007. "The Thais were great hosts. They were very happy to discuss flying, and you found out that, despite the language barrier, you're kind of the same." [/B]
The sharing of ideas and culture has also inspired Col. Robert Huston, a first-time Cope Tiger participant and commander of the 13th Air Expeditionary Wing-CT09.
[B]"This exercise is a tremendous opportunity for us to interact and to learn about each other," said Colonel Huston. "We all do things a little differently, for reasons that work for our individual countries, but we also all have things we can learn from each other.
"I was already impressed by the very strong partnership our countries have, but here I've seen the relationship improve and grow. It's exciting because this good relationship has enabled us to expand the exercise this year, to include adding a Thai Army airborne operation out of a U.S. Air Force C-17 [Globemaster III]." [/B]
In addition to the flying portion of the exercise, Cope Tiger also includes a two-phase humanitarian and civic assistance portion. In the first phase, exercise participants will donate school supplies, sports equipment and other supplies to local schools.
During the second phase joint teams of medical, optometry and dental personnel from the U.S. Air Force, Royal Thai Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force will provide care to more than 2,000 Thai citizens.
[B]The two-week exercise will conclude with a closing ceremony in Korat, Thailand, March 20. [/B]
[quote]Capt. Mike Kuehni discusses flight operations with Royal Thai Air Force Squadron Leader S. Sak, Wing Commander N.Don, and Wing Commander Nm. Rat at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 9. Cope Tiger is an annual, multilateral large force aerial exercise conducted in Thailand including U.S., Thai and Singaporean military forces. The two-week exercise includes both flying and humanitarian missions conducted in Korat and Udon Thani, Thailand. Cope Tiger 2009 kicked off March 9 and will conclude March 20. Captain Kuehni is deployed to Cope Tiger 2009 from the 44th Fighter Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. [/quote]
[B][SIZE="4"]Exercise in Thailand shows multilateral partnership[/SIZE][/B]
US Air Force | Mar 13, 2009
KORAT, Thailand: Approximately 20 military members from Thailand, Singapore and the United States are working together to coordinate the aerial missions throughout the region for Exercise Cope Tiger 2009 March 9 through 20 here.
[B]Cope Tiger is a two-week exercise including both flying and humanitarian missions conducted by U.S., Thai and Singaporean military forces in Korat and Udon Thani, Thailand. [/B]
In the live fly cell, a group of Singaporean personnel works at computers while Thai and U.S. servicemembers transcribe information onto a large board tracking aircraft in the air. The information flows to the live fly cell from aircraft in the air, Airmen on the ground, and from control towers at both Korat and Udon Thani Royal Thai air force bases. It is in multiple languages before eventually appearing on the main wall in English for all to see.
"This is the live fly cell, but back home we call this 'base operations,'" said Singapore air force Warrant Officer Naranasamy Samyual, an air traffic controller and the officer in charge of the Singaporean contingent. "This is very similar to what I'd be doing back home. It is slightly different because we're working with the different countries, but we mix and match very well to get the job done."
Radio frequencies, airfield status and other special instructions are posted to their left. To their right is weather information. Behind them sit two groups of airmen working at computers made up of Thais and Americans.
[B]"We plan the schedule and issue it out to every unit. That is our first job," said Royal Thai air force Wing Commander Arnon Charusombat, the officer in charge of the live fly cell and its Thai contingent. "Then we track the aircraft that are flying in the area, sortie achievement and any deviation from the sortie plan. We have all the information in the live fly cell, and we know if this or that aircraft is good to go, or there is a problem with the tower or the weather and it can't go." [/B]
"We coordinate the operations side of the exercise and flying-related activities," said Capt. Jeff Watts, the live fly cell liaison officer deployed from Kadena Air Base, Japan. "We coordinate everything from scheduling, airspace, and pushing the schedule to the tower."
[B]An E-3 Sentry maintenance issue sends Captain Watts over to talk to Wing Commander Charusombat to coordinate bringing up the alternate air battle manager. A few phone calls later, Wing Commander Charusombat returns with the thumbs up and everything is ready to fly. [/B]
In addition to a mix of countries, languages and cultures in the live fly cell, the three men in charge of their countries' contingents bring a wide range of experience to the mix.
Wing Commander Charusombat is a veteran of Cope Tiger, having participated for eight years as a pilot and now for his third year as a planner. Warrant Officer Samyual is a first-time participant, but three days into the exercise he already hopes it will not be his last. Captain Watts is a three-year Cope Tiger veteran.
The three are representative of the team members they lead, whose backgrounds and experience vary greatly. However, all three agree that Cope Tiger is an excellent training opportunity.
[B]"This is a large scale, multiplatform aerial training exercise," said Warrant Officer Samyual. "There is a great training benefit to working with the other countries. (The United States) actually has warfighting experience. We do not. We can learn from your experiences." [/B]
It is also an excellent opportunity to practice English, Wing Commander Charusombat said.
[B]"As pilots, we use English as a common language while we are flying, but when we do our planning it's not in technical terms," the wing commander said. "You know, 'Break right,' 'Break left,' that's easy."
"These guys are very professional, very mission-focused and very accommodating when we need things," Captain Watts said. "They're very intelligent, but they're very modest. I've been very impressed by them." [/B]