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3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade Marines, sailors take on Cobra Gold 2011

By 1st Lt. Nicklaus Eisenbeiser | | February 12, 2011

The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade has begun Exercise Cobra Gold 2011 which will be conducted from Feb. 7 to Feb. 18, 2011.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Cobra Gold, which is the largest United States Pacific Command level exercise conducted each year, continuing to build upon the partnerships of all seven countries that take part. This is also the first year that the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade Forward, III Marine Expeditionary Force, has taken the lead during the exercise.

The MEB is the midsized Marine Air-Ground Task Force, serving as a hybrid and maximizing the capabilities between the forward deployed Marine Expeditionary Unit and the principal fighting force – the Marine Expeditionary Force. For 30 days the MEB is self-sufficient. It is composed of a reinforced infantry regiment, a composite Marine Aircraft Group, and a brigade service support group.

“Cobra Gold offers us the great opportunity to train alongside the soldiers and Marines of seven other countries within the Asia-Pacific region. The multinational training that we conduct will directly support any future operation or contingency that may occur in the region; ranging from humanitarian assistance to disaster relief,” said U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Mark A. Brilakis, 3rd MEB commanding general. “With this being the 30th iteration of Cobra Gold, the foundation of support and security that we have built between countries grows stronger every year.”

Cobra Gold 2011 began with the end of Exercise Freedom Banner. Freedom Banner was designed to test the ability to conduct a maritime prepositioning force operation. Equipment and supplies were offloaded from two military sealift command ships and then transitioned the equipment and supplies for Cobra Gold 2011.

The offload staged equipment and supplies utilized for the field training exercise and for the medical and dental civil action programs. These programs are designed to support the local population, allowing them to receive the necessary treatment which normally they will not be able to obtain.

“The Maritime Preposition Force ‘in-stream’ offload conducted during Freedom Banner ’11 off the coast of Thailand was a tremendous opportunity to showcase the Navy and Marine Corps team’s ability to project combat power ashore without the use of a port facility,” said U.S. Marine Col. Jim Rubino, commanding officer, Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and commander, Freedom Banner 2011, Arrival and Assembly Operations Group.

Marines and sailors are positioned at various camps throughout Thailand that includes 3rd MEB's Logistical Combat Element at Lop Buri, the Air Combat Element at Korat, and the Ground Combat Element at Ban Chan Krem.

More than 4,000 Marines and sailors will participate in everything from multilateral field training exercises to engineering projects.

While at Ban Chan Krem, Marines from Thailand, Republic of Korea and the United States are conduct live fire training. This training will go over the duration of several days and utilizes weapon systems used by each country. Live fire training like this is conducted to allow the Marines to learn tactics utilized by their counterparts and how to work cooperatively with them.

“It’s great to be in Thailand participating in the 30th Anniversary of Cobra Gold,” said U.S. Marine Col. Stephen M. Neary, commanding officer of the GCE, 3rd MEB FWD. “Here at Ban Chan Krem, the (GCE) is honored to be in the Kingdom of Thailand with (one of the) U.S.’ oldest ally dating back to 1833. “We will accomplish this (training) by conducting live fire training, executing a combat life saving package, urban operations training and a staff planning exercise for a humanitarian assistance, disaster relief problem. Our live fire training will consist of enhanced marksmanship training, a machine gun shoot and the employment of Marine air.”

Numerous engineering civic action programs sites throughout the region have also begun. Projects include additions and repairs to eight schools and orphanages throughout the country.

“The 3rd MEB (FWD) Logistics Combat Element, made up of elements from the 3rd Marine Logistics Group, appreciates the opportunity to train in the Kingdom of Thailand alongside our Thai counterparts during Exercise Cobra Gold 2011. The LCE supports all of the 3rd MEB (FWD) units participating in multiple (engineering cicic assistance projects) across Thailand. In addition, we are conducting a bi-lateral field training exercise that allows our Marines and sailors the opportunity to become familiar with Thai tactical training procedures. We have learned a great deal during this training, and we look forward to building upon the success of Cobra Gold 2011 for many years into the futures,” said U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Forrest C. Poole, executive officer of the LCE, 3rd MEB (FWD).

The ACE, comprised of air assets from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, and MCAS Futenma Okinawa, Japan, conducts air operations from a Royal Thai air Force base, located in central Thailand.

"As always, our Royal Thailand Air Force counterparts from Wing 1 at Korat Airbase are wonderful hosts. Each year, we build upon previous training and the integration between (Marine Aircraft Group 36) and Wing 1 could not be better. There is immense trust and respect between our two country's pilots and Marines performing both command and control and aviation ground support. Cobra Gold is also a wonderful opportunity for our young Marines and sailors to build schools hand in hand with Royal Thai and ROK Marines. These humanitarian efforts bring all countries closer together,” said U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Benjamin Z. Woodworth, executive officer of MAG-36 and the ACE, 3rd MEB (FWD).

Exercise Cobra Gold 2011 is a regularly scheduled multinational training exercise designed to improve partner nation interoperability.

For more information about Cobra Gold 2011, visit www.marines.mil/cobragold2011 or www.facebook.com/exercisecobragold.

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