BAN CHAM KHO, Thailand -- Royal Thai Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force service members worked alongside one another to construct an open-air multi-purpose educational building Jan. 27 at Ban Cham Kho, Rayong, Thailand, before the official beginning of Exercise Cobra Gold 2016.
Cobra Gold, in its 35th iteration, is the largest multinational exercise in Asia and is an integral part of the U.S. commitment to strengthen engagement in the region.
The construction at Ban Cham Kho is one of six humanitarian civic action sites in which the Thai, U.S. and partner nation’s militaries will work together on civic programs to support security and humanitarian interests of friends and partner nations.
“I’m very proud to be here, it’s just awesome being out here in a foreign country doing a project, it’s something I never thought I’d get to do,” said U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Stephen Messer, site officer-in-charge, HCA Site 3, Combined Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force. “It’s a great opportunity for me and all the Marines and it’s great being out here representing the United States and the Marine Corps, ” said Messer.
This year, Cobra Gold will emphasize coordination on civic action, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, with the aim of expanding regional cooperation and collaboration in these vital areas with partner nations and allies.
Getting to work alongside the Thais and the Japanese has been a really cool opportunity, you don’t get to mix three different cultures and work with them every day, said U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jacqueline Hine, a combat engineer with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
The HCA programs will improve the quality of life, as well as the general health and welfare of civilian residents in the exercise areas.
The teachers and the students of the school are very happy and willing to support Cobra Gold. They are happy to have the new building here and it is good to build a relationship with them and that makes them glad to be around the Thai Navy, said Royal Thai Navy CDR Awiruth Waingkao, with Construction Development Regiment, RTN.