MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Marines with combat engineer company, Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, prepare to go to Thailand aboard Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni, Japan, Jan. 15, 2014, to participate in Exercise Cobra Gold.
Exercise Cobra Gold is a multi-national, joint exercise, conducted annually in Thailand and is comprised of forces from participating nations including: Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the United States. China will also be participating in the exercise as an observing nation.
Engineers with MWSS-171 will construct schools to increase operational readiness during Exercise Cobra Gold.
“In addition to building structures and providing schools, we’re going to be facilitating the interoperability and the relationships between the United States Marine Corps, the Singapore armed forces and the Royal Thai Air Force,” said 1st Lt. James D. Woolley, executive officer with engineer company, MWSS-171.
Operations, such as this one, refine Marine Aircraft Group 12’s capability to deploy to potential crisis locations and enhance existing professional relationships amongst allies, allowing more opportunities to work in partnership.
Woolley said the company is part of the Humanitarian and Civic Assistance Program while in Thailand. The HCA Program is comprised of five different units from the Army, the Air Force and the Marine Corps, whose objective is to build schools in various provinces in Thailand.
According to Woolley, while the mission focuses on the tactical level, including military occupational specialty proficiency, training with vertical construction and validating the ability to plan, coordinate and execute the actual structure, it also focuses on the strategic side of operations.
Cpl. Luis JuanDiego, combat engineer with MWSS-171, said this exercise provides an atmosphere beneficial to the growth of the Marines.
“The goal is to have Marines become proficient within their MOS, build a structure from scratch and collaborate with various units,” said JuanDiego. “They can learn how to take charge within leadership roles and enhance their communication skills while working with different units.”
The company received training prior to this exercise, including concrete classes and a rebar class, which consisted of bending and welding steel bars.
“These classes help give us general knowledge of what we’ll be doing in Thailand, such as our concrete pouring and rebaring for structural support,” said Lance Cpl. David Willey, drafter and surveyor with MWSS-171. “The instructors we’ve had come in are very professional and have many years of experience.”
Cobra Gold is slated to begin at the end of January and finish by the end of February.