By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Adam R. Cole, Task Force 76 Public Affairs
From middle-of-the night physical training to airfield security tactics to underwater detonations or planning for a humanitarian assistance/disaster relief mission; training milestones were achieved in a multitude of missions areas for the United States, Royal Thai and Republic of Singapore combined Naval forces (CNAVFOR) during Cobra Gold 2007, which officially concluded May 18.
Most of the field training exercises in diving, mobile security and mine countermeasures concluded one day prior to the final ceremony with a culminating training session. That was followed by barbecues and informal sports activities, displaying camaraderie symbolic of a exercise, which maintained its theme throughout of “Strength Through Friendship.”
"When I look at this year's exercise, I see incredible engagement taking place, both within the particular training scenarios and outside of it," said Commander, Task Force 76, Rear Adm. Carol M. Pottenger, who served as the deputy commander for the Cobra Gold combined Naval forces (CNAVFOR). "One of my biggest takeaways was watching the combined enthusiasm of the Thai, Singapore and U.S. forces as they worked to attain the training objectives of Cobra Gold 07. They clearly developed a sense of pride and camaraderie and enhanced their professional skills and personal relationships."
Pottenger’s comments were echoed by Royal Thai Navy Rear Adm. Boonchai Marinpong, commander, Amphibious Squadron, the commander of the CNAVFOR.
“The success of Cobra Gold was not only in creating solutions to [scenario-driven] problems for the exercise, but to establish relationships,” said Marinpong. “I think we accomplished both missions, with relationships being the most important. I am proud of Thai, Singapore and U.S. service members for working hard and giving best effort to the exercise.”
While the field training activities were bilateral between the United States and Thailand, a combined staff exercise put Thai, U.S. and Singaporean Naval leaders together to plan a number of missions in relation to a United Nations peace keeping mission. In this scenario, the combined staff worked together to create the plans for an amphibious demonstration, a non-combatant evacuation and a humanitarian assistance / disaster relief operation.
Though staff planners said that language was a barrier, it was one that was easily breakable. Planners learned not only about the planning procedures, but also in how to work together.
“By keeping in mind the objective and working closely together, trying to understand how each other goes through this sort of process, we were able to succeed in creating the plans for the different missions,” said Republic of Singapore Navy
Maj. C. L. Chew. “But what is important is not the planning but the friends, camaraderie.”
The thoughts were the same in the field training, where friendships were equal to interoperability.
“We know that the bonds that were created will last – and we’re already looking forward to next year,” said Master Chief Navy Diver (MDV/DSW/SW) Michael Moser.
Expeditionary Strike Group 7/Task Force 76 is the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force and is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.
Cobra Gold 07 is a regularly scheduled Thai-U.S.-led joint/combined multi-national exercise designed to ensure regional stability and interoperability among participating nations.