UTAPHAO AIR BASE, Thailand - Commander, Task Force (CTF) 76 and assigned forces completed Cobra Gold 2014, the U.S./Thai-led annual combined-joint training exercise aimed at developing interoperability and unity among participating nations, as closing ceremonies were held Feb. 21.
This year's Cobra Gold exercise, the 33rd iteration, involved the United States, Kingdom of Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, and Malaysia working together in a command post exercise (CPX) and a field training exercise.
Active duty and reserve force Sailors and Marines assigned to CTF 76 and forward-deployed amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver (LPD 9) participated in the exercise.
"This exercise was a fulfilling experience to watch all countries working together," said Rear Adm. Hugh Wetherald, commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet and deputy commander for Combined Naval Force (COMNAVFOR) for Cobra Gold 2014. "We learned just as much as you did."
These sentiments were echoed by Wetherald's Royal Thai navy counterpart, Rear Adm. Tanin Likitawong, commander, Amphibious and Combat Support, and commander of the COMNAVFOR for the exercise.
"The Royal Thai forces are extremely pleased with the results of this exercise and are very grateful for U.S. participation. We have seen great unity between all participating nations both as part of the CPX and as our Sailors and Marines worked jointly in the field. We extend our heartfelt thanks to the U.S. Navy for their efforts in Cobra Gold 2014," said Likitawong.
One of the greatest markers of nation-to-nation unity was displayed at the CNAVFOR headquarters in Utapao, where the United States, Kingdom of Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, and Malaysia navies worked together for both real-world and simulated results. Staff members jointly planned amphibious and air operations, which were conducted flawlessly from the sea. While in simulation, as part of the CPX, staff members coordinated together a peace-keeping scenario. Using combined naval assets, a Maritime Exclusion Zone was created for merchant traffic, and troops were deployed from ships to shore to help keep the peace on the ground.
"This exercise was truly a joint effort of staffs working together towards a common goal," said Wetherald. "Peace and stability in the Pacific cannot be achieved by a single nation. This effort takes all countries working together as a combined force. Cobra Gold and other exercises conducted throughout the region bring our nations closer to achieving that goal."
Beyond the training, Sailors and Marines participated in a Thai navy sponsored ice breaker reception, a joint Thai-U.S. community relations project at Chongsamaesan School, and hosted a reception to foster the unity and build relationships between our countries.
The U.S. and Thailand have been working together for 181 years. CG 14 is the latest in a continuing series of exercises designed to promote peace and security in the Western Pacific.
Task Force 76 is the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force and is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan.