School dedication symbolizes regional cooperation during [MIGRATE]
By 1st Lt. Luke Kuper
| February 18, 2014
Dignitaries with the Kingdom of Thailand, U.S. and People’s Republic of China came together for a building dedication ceremony Feb. 18 at the Wattatakian School in Phitsanulok province, Kingdom of Thailand, during Exercise Cobra Gold 2014.
Cobra Gold, in its 33rd iteration, is designed to advance regional security and ensure effective response to regional crises by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region.
The ceremony marked the completion of construction for the first of four schools being built as part of multinational engineering and civic assistance projects taking place across Thailand.
“(This project demonstrates) the extraordinary cooperation and friendship we see today among the armed forces of the Kingdom of Thailand, U.S. and China,” said Kristie Kenney, the U.S. ambassador to Thailand. “Our soldiers worked together to create a wonderful new building for this school.”
Humanitarian and civic assistance projects conducted during the exercise support the needs and humanitarian interests of the Thai people.
“The Wattatakian School is a place where students from the area and nearby villages come to study,” said Rapee Phongbutrakit, the governor of Phitsanulok province. “Having the three countries cooperation will benefit the children and the community, making this building very significant.”
The project was the first time the People’s Liberation Army has participated in the humanitarian and civic assistance portion of Cobra Gold.
“The Chinese first joined Cobra Gold as an observer in 2002,” said Ning Fukui, the People’s Republic of China’s ambassador to Thailand. “This year, Chinese service members took part in the humanitarian aid and disaster relief exercise for the first time. I believe all the participating countries will take this opportunity to exchange their experiences, strengthen friendship and enhance capacity in HADR operations.”
The ceremony consisted of opening remarks from the Combined Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force commanders, traditional Thai dancing performed by local students, statements from numerous international dignitaries, and a tree planting ritual.
Other sites with scheduled dedication ceremonies include the Ban Tabaek Ngam School in Phitsanulok province, Wat Kun Son School in Chanthaburi province and Ban Sa la Kai Fub School in Sukhothai province.
“(This building) shows again that when we work together, great things can happen,” said Kenney.