U.S. Marines and Sailors with Landing Force Company completed their culminating exercise with Thai counterparts at Had Yao Beach, Thailand May 18.
In the final scenario of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2011 in Thailand, the allied forces conducted a combined amphibious landing from two amphibious warfare ships off the coast.
Landing Force Company is comprised primarily of Marines with 2nd Battalion, 23 Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, reinforced by Marines with 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion, 4th Marine Division.
“Our roots as a Marine Corps are amphibious in nature,” said Capt. Rudy Cazares, company commander for Landing Force Company. “The scenario for the (final training exercise) was securing a beach for follow-on forces. That’s our specialty. It’s what Marines do.”
The Final Training Exercise was a beach assault using amphibious assault vehicles. U.S. and Thai forces each had an objective on the beach to seize.
Many of the citizen-Marines are embarked aboard ship for the first time and are conducting their first assault from the sea.
“There is an entire generation of Marines that lack the amphibious assault experience,” Cazares said. “This evolution afforded them the opportunity to get that training.”
The use of Selected Marine Corps Reserve units like 2/23 for bilateral training and theater security cooperation exercises, however, is not a new concept.
“The reserve component is trained, organized and equipped in the same way the active forces are,” said Capt. Nathan Braden, Marine Corps Forces Reserve public affairs operations officer. “Consequently, we are interchangeable and constantly leaning forward to deploy as the nation requires.”
The FTX included nine AAVs from the U.S. and six from Thailand. A company of Thai Marines and a company of U.S. Marines disembarked the AAVs and assaulted their respective objectives.
While the amphibious assault was the culminating event, U.S. and Thai service members conducted extensive training in jungle survival, combat marksmanship, military operations in urban terrain, combat lifesaving skills, martial arts and sniper training.
“Despite the language barrier and the use of different equipment, I can confidently say it was a positive experience across the board,” Cazares said. “We gained just as much from this experience from the Thai as they did from us.”
The fraternity of being a Marine transcends differences in language, culture, and 8,000 miles of sea between homes.
“I would definitely like to work with the Thai again,” said Lance Cpl. Austin Holt, a riflemen with 3rd Platoon, Landing Force Company. “They were so eager to learn what we had to teach, and I was excited to learn from them, especially the Muay Thai [martial arts]. We learned a lot from each other.”
“The Thai were as professional as I have ever seen,” Cazares said. “They really laid out the red carpet for us. I can only hope we have just as positive experience in the training to come.”
The Navy and Marine Corps exercise force for CARAT is scheduled to continue training with the Indonesian National Armed Forces.
Thailand is America’s longest-standing partner in Asia with formal relations dating back to 1833, according to the U.S. Embassy, Bangkok Website.
CARAT is a series of bilateral exercises held annually throughout Southeast Asia to enhance regional cooperation, promote mutual understanding and trust, and increase the operational readiness of the participating forces.
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