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Local Marine participates in Cobra Gold 2011

March 25, 2011
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

By Dona Fair, Special to THE BREEZE

CHIANG MAI, Thailand For the son of two Punta Gorda residents, providing humanitarian aid, civic assistance and military training to a country known for deadly cobra snakes, Buddhist temples and shrimp pad Thai, was quite an experience recently.

Marine Corps Cpl. Richard A. Sanders, son of Sam Sanders and Kim Sanders, both of Punta Gorda, was one of more than 7,200 U.S. servicemembers involved in Cobra Gold 2011, the largest multi-lateral military training exercise in the Pacific region. Sponsored by the Royal Thai Supreme Command and the United States, Cobra Gold is conducted annually throughout the Kingdom of Thailand. This year's participants were Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, United States, and the Republic of Korea.

Article Photos

Photos by Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Griffin

Marine Corps Cpl. Richard A. Sanders recently
participated in Cobra Gold 2011 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Cobra Gold is the largest multi-lateral military training exercise in the Pacific region.

"My job here is to help support the joint command element of Cobra Gold by setting up and troubleshooting large scale tactical communication architecture," said Sanders, who is a tech control specialist with the 7th Communication Battalion, Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan. "I also moonlight as a video teleconference coordinator."

Cobra Gold 2011 marks the 30th anniversary of the Cobra Gold Exercise and has developed into an important symbol of the U.S. military's commitment to maintaining peace and security in Asia. The exercise provides realistic training, improves efficiency through military coordination, and tests military operations.

Service members work on their tactical skills and test their ability to operate in a joint, multinational environment. These range from amphibious assaults to engineering and medical humanitarian and civic assistance projects geared toward improving the quality of life of the Thai people.

The training gives Sanders a chance to improve his individual skills and experience the culture of other countries.

"This type of exercise is important because it allows the U.S. to work with Asian nations as if there were a large scale war going on within the Pacific Area of Responsibility," said Sanders, who graduated in 2007 from Charlotte High School. "War time is not the time to be learning how to do our jobs."

With its lush jungles, exotic beaches and its precarious animal wildlife, Thailand is quite a contrast to the hustle and bustle of the United States. Instead of the huge shopping malls that Sanders and the others are accustomed to, street markets abound with sellers who pack their wares - a variety of tropical fruits, flowers, food, clothing, and jewelry, into small kiosks, bargaining with customers to get the best price for their items.

"The climate here is similar to that of my hometown. The people are generally friendly and speak at least a little English, so getting around is not a problem," said Sanders, who has been in the military for three years. "The terrain is mountainous and has dense jungles that make you want to rent a four wheel drive.

In an age where it is just as important for countries to support peace operations, Sanders and his multi-national military partners understand firsthand what it takes to bring many countries together to be able to respond to disasters such as recent tsunamis and cyclones, and provide humanitarian assistance around the world.

 
 
 

 

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