Westpac Express to Participate in Cobra Gold 2002

Monday, April 22, 2002
Officials in Bangkok and Washington, D. C. have announced the armed forces of Thailand, Singapore and the United States will conduct the 21st Exercise Cobra in Thailand from May 14-28.

Cobra Gold '02 is a regularly-scheduled Joint/combined exercise and is the latest in the continuing series of U. S. - 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.

Long before the opening ceremonies and speeches, members of the U. S. Navy's Military Sealift Command, Far East, of Yokohama, Japan, deploy to the Thai Navy port here. "We are a Naval reserve unit assigned to MSC Far East and this deployment is our annual training or AT," said Cmdr. Mary Meyer, of Plano, Texas, executive officer of Naval Reserve Military Sealift Command Office, Korea 111 of Dallas and officer in charge of the first detachment of the unit to Cobra Gold. "Our unit is excited to participate in Cobra Gold," Meyer said, "This gives our unit the opportunity to perform our mission as we have trained.

"This enables us to utilize our skills. In my opinion there is no better training than doing." Of the seven ships coming, MV Green Wave, USNS William W. Seay and HSV WestPac Express have never served in the exercise here.

The WestPac Express, high-speed vessel, is one of the newest contract ships with Military Sealift Command, coming under contract in February for use in transporting U. S. Marines and Marine equipment in the Pacific area.

"Being the newest means new ways of working ships," Meyer continued, "we're doing what we would do if we are mobilized, working with the latest and the greatest that MSC contracts to support those American forces on the ground. The WestPac Express is a catamaran, made with an aluminum hull and the first time here...we will all work together to do it right and safe." The arrival of USNS Seay, a Large Medium Speed Roll on Roll off or LMSR ship, will bring an added challenge to Meyer and her reservists...its size. "USNS Seay is 950 feet in length and 106 feet on the beam and a draft of 34 feet, said Senior Chief Petty Officer Andy Waite, of Dallas, command senior chief petty officer of the reserve detachment. "As long as we ensure that the mooring is handled in a timely, safe manner the rest of the operation should be completed easily."

"Her ability to discharge cargo by rolling off should allow the units to receive the equipment quickly." MSCO operations will begin with the first ship arriving here pier side on April 16. Cobra Gold '02 is one of the largest exercises involving U. S. Forces in the Pacific Command this year. This year's exercise will focus the participants on peace enforcement operations and will include the planning and execution of noncombatant evacuation operation, as these types of military operations are increasingly called for in today's world.

A recent example is the U. S., Thailand and Singapore armed forces involvement in the peacekeeping mission in East Timor. As in all previous Cobra Gold exercises, this exercise will include joint-combined land, sea and air operations. The exercise will also assist the people of Thailand through combined Thai-U. S. medical and civil affairs projects. Approximately 14,000 U. S. forces will participate, including elements of U. S. Army, Pacific (USARPAC); U. S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific (MARFORPAC); and U. S. Pacific Air Forces (PACAF); as well as Special Operations Command Pacific (SOCPAC), Air Combat Command (ACC), Air Mobility Command (AMC), Military Sealift Command (MSC) and reserve elements from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. Participating Thai Forces will number approximately 7,000 and will include elements of the Royal Thai Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. (By Dub Allen, Public Affairs Officer, Military Sealift Command-Far East)

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