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Combat marksmanship molds leaders, strengthens ties

By Sgt. Brandon L. Saunders | | February 13, 2012

BAN CHAN KREM, Kingdom of Thailand – In the 31st iteration of Exercise Cobra Gold, Royal Thai, Republic of Korea and U.S. Marines train side-by-side to sharpen different aspects of combat marksmanship at the training range here Feb. 13 during the four-day live fire event, Marines and sailors from Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, supported, assisted and provided guidance to the Royal Thai and Republic of Korea counterparts as they trained on three separate ranges.

A heavy machine gun range equipped with crew-served weapons, a range specifically designed for tables three and four, and an amphibious assault vehicle gunnery range were tactically set up at the Ban Chan Krem range allowing Marines from different nations to train together, improving interoperability in the Pacific.

“Even though we come from different nations and backgrounds, the core roots of our military fundamentals exist in all countries participating,” said U.S. Marine 1st. Lt. John N. Biggs, officer-in-charge, combat marksmanship range.

Many of the Royal Thai and Republic of Korea counterparts were coached on proper weapon handling techniques and safety practices by junior Marines and noncommissioned officers. The training was also beneficial by improving combative skill-sets and was able to further develop young leaders in a field setting.

“The importance of this trilateral training fosters a better relationship with our partners in the pacific and strengthens the ties we have with these countries,” said U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. James E. Puckett, range safety officer, combat marksmanship range.

Small unit leadership played a major role in the success of Combat Assault Battalion’s training operations throughout the live-fire events, said Puckett.

For many of the Marines, this exercise was the first opportunity to work with U.S. allies in the pacific. By doing so, Marines were able to compare different approaches to combat tactics in a cultural exchange of tactical military knowledge.

“What I’ve enjoyed most about this range is seeing junior Marines and NCOs step up and make bold corrections,” said Biggs.

Combat Assault Battalion served as ambassadors of the U.S. to both the Royal Thai and Republic of Korea Marines to upkeep the long-standing partnership the U.S has in the pacific.

Cobra Gold is a recurring multinational and multiservice exercise co-hosted by the Royal Kingdom of Thailand and the U.S. designed to advance regional security by exercising a multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region.

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