143d Participates in International Exercise: Cobra Gold

  • Published
  • By SSgt Zachary Walker
  • 143 AW/MXS
Cobra Gold. It sounds like the title of an Indiana Jones film. Fortunately, for the Rhode Island Air National Guard (RIANG) and the international partners involved it was not. No one was running from boulders or falling into snake pits. Possibly with a little less Hollywood flare, but certainly not lacking excitement, Cobra Gold deserves the spotlight and recognition just the same. Cobra Gold is a long-standing, multinational exercise in the Asia-Pacific region designed to ensure peace, strong bonds, humanitarian and disaster relief efforts while conducting joint military tactics. The importance of Cobra Gold between the U.S. and the international partners, has  left and will leave long-lasting impressions and promise in the region. For the first time in over 30 years, the National Guard had the privilege to be included in this exercise. With all humility and an attempt of being unbiased, as proven leaders in the C-130J community, I believe the Rhode Island Air National Guard was right for the job.

Cobra Gold is one of the largest multinational exercises in the Asia-Pacific region and is hosted by the Kingdom of Thailand and the United States. This annual training exercise has gone on for over 30 years and includes many nations from the Asia-Pacific region, many of which act as observers rather than players. "This year's Cobra Gold will consist of three primary events: a command post exercise, which includes a senior leader seminar; humanitarian civic assistance projects in Thai communities; and a field training exercise that will build regional relationships," said  Marine Corps 1st. LtCourtney in a statement from the U.S. Marine Corps Forces in the Pacific. Building strong, multinational relationships remains a vitally important mission throughout the U.S. and our armed forces.

Cobra Gold has remained an annual exercise and highly relevant for a list of reasons. As one of the largest exercises in the Asia-Pacific region, it strengthens bonds between nations through leadership and cooperation. As one team, we work together to increase battlefield tactics through amphibious, air, and ground attacks. Lastly, and possibly most important, nations work together on humanitarian efforts such as building schools, administering medical aid, and disaster relief. The Asia-Pacific region has suffered tremendously from natural disasters. Through exercises such as Cobra Gold, the U.S. and a host of other nations in the region can improve their disaster relief response tactics. For the first time in history, the RIANG had the opportunity to join Cobra Gold in an effort to help strengthen these relationships in the Asia-Pacific region.

As our mission states in the National Guard, we are "Always Ready, Always There." I believe exercises like this allow the National Guard to prove its versatility, and hopefully it will open future opportunities to support this mission and more. Overall, for the Rhode Island Air National Guard, the opportunity was an enormous honor. Consistently at the tip of the spear, the RIANG strives to remain proactive in the search of opportunities, both foreign and domestic, to share our knowledge and expertise. Cobra Gold was no exception. As leaders in the C-130J community, the RIANG is beyond grateful to be the first National Guard unit to participate. From our Flight Commander down to the lowest ranking Airman on mission, we were excited to share our knowledge and experience with others while performing aerial delivery of supplies and troops.

As our world can tend to be a dangerous place, it's vital that nations can work together for a safer and better tomorrow. Cobra Gold will remain a long-standing joint exercise for this reason and more; aiding in safety, sharing battlefield tactics, humanitarian work, disaster relief or simply trading knowledge and experience to better one another. The RIANG has given us the opportunity to demonstrate once again the effectiveness of the Guard and its application within the U.S. military. I believe I can safely speak for everyone in the RIANG when I say that we are honored, and will continue to remain on the forefront of our mission to fly, fight and win.