U.S. troops cap Cobra Gold exercise with visit to Pattaya Orphanage

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More than 30 U.S. Navy personnel capped 10 days of multinational war games with a round of friendly sports and indoor games with children at the Pattaya Orphanage.

Fresh off completion of the year’s Cobra Gold exercise, sailors from Combat Logistics Battalion 31, led by Chaplain Barrett Craig and Lt. Col. William Arick talked to orphanage children and then engaged them in some outdoor games until rain forced everyone inside Feb. 17.

Chaplain Barrett Craig (left), Combat Logistics Battalion 31 accepts souvenir books from Father Veera Phangrak, director of the Pattaya Orphanage. Chaplain Barrett Craig (left), Combat Logistics Battalion 31 accepts souvenir books from Father Veera Phangrak, director of the Pattaya Orphanage.

The kids’ laughter was a welcome change from exploding artillery and firearms that played such a prominent role in Cobra Gold drills, which began Feb. 7.

For Battalion 31, the exercise began Feb. 12 with an amphibious beach assault in Sattahip with 150 American sailors and marines joining seven amphibious vehicle squads from Thailand. The attack was synchronized with U.S. personnel leading troops ashore in amphibious assault vehicles to scout for snipers. Royal Thai Navy troops were stationed to the side of the target and when both forces were in position, a signal was launched for the attack to help hostages off the area and retreat, completing the mission of bringing troops ashore.

There’s nothing like having the media in your face whilst trying to attack a beach head.There’s nothing like having the media in your face whilst trying to attack a beach head.

The following day saw Battalion 31 participate in wilderness survival training at Force Recon Thailand along with South Korean troops. This was a patrol mission where backup troops and food could not be brought in. The mission focused on training soldiers to identify the surrounding plants and animals and teach soldiers to cook with natural tools, learn to create traps in various forms appropriate for different animals. There were strategic simulations by presenting soldiers with various insects to taste, a demonstration on catching cobras with bare hands, during which soldiers drank fresh blood from the cobras, a surprising demonstration for the U.S. and South Korean participants.

Valentine’s Day saw a mission devoted to recovery of chemical, biological and nuclear materials at Maha Jessada Ratchao Camp. The Thai Navy’s Science Department and Research and Development Centre for Space and Aeronautical Science and Technology joined soldiers from the U.S. Biological, Chemical and Nuclear Weapons Division to lead 99 Thai and 35 American sailors through training on the hazardous materials recovery and share strategies, technologies.

The U.S. this year had 8,948 men and women participating in Cobra Gold. Thailand tasked 13,180 personnel to join and South Korea sent 324. Others actively engaged were Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan. Ten other nations have sent observers.

Troops learn to identify edible insects to survive in the jungle. Troops learn to identify edible insects to survive in the jungle.

Troops are given a thorough washing after handling toxic chemicals. Troops are given a thorough washing after handling toxic chemicals.

A Thai survival expert shows troops how to capture a cobra during the jungle survival exercises.A Thai survival expert shows troops how to capture a cobra during the jungle survival exercises.

Cooking up the wild chicken and cobra caught earlier in the jungle.Cooking up the wild chicken and cobra caught earlier in the jungle.

US troops are given a chance to try their hands at capturing a live cobra.US troops are given a chance to try their hands at capturing a live cobra.

The children at Pattaya Orphanage certainly enjoy play time with US soldiers.The children at Pattaya Orphanage certainly enjoy play time with US soldiers.

This mission devoted to recovery of chemical, biological and nuclear materials at Maha Jessada Ratchao Camp took place on Valentine’s Day.This mission devoted to recovery of chemical, biological and nuclear materials at Maha Jessada Ratchao Camp took place on Valentine’s Day.

Amphibious vehicles bring troops ashore in Sattahip.Amphibious vehicles bring troops ashore in Sattahip.