The Cobra Gold opening ceremony Sunday at Camp Suratham Phithak, Korat, Thailand, began with a performance by the Royal Thai Army 3rd Infantry Division drill and ceremony team followed by opening remarks from commanders of the Thai and U.S. forces.
“The opening ceremony was pretty cool,” said Lt. Col. Teddy Kleisner, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division commander. “It’s not the type of pageantry we get to do at home, so it was neat for our guys to get to see that. We got to get a good message from their commanding general, but now we get to get a little informal which I think is more fun and our guys appreciate.”
The fun started after the close of the official ceremony when Thai and U.S. forces joined together for a friendly, yet competitive, game of soccer before having dinner together closing the day’s events.
“We’re just out here building cohesive teamwork between the Thais and U.S. Army, so we put together a battalion team and asked them if they wanted to play (soccer),” said Sgt. 1st Class Damion Andrews, Bravo Company, 1-23 Inf. “We’ve been practicing for about a month and a half because I knew the Thai Army would have some good players.”
The day’s events concluded with a dinner for the leadership of each unit.
“After this, we’re going to break bread, have an informal social and get to know each other,” Kleisner said.
On Monday, both nations started to work closely together during training exercises for the next two weeks, building stronger ties and greater interoperability between the two nations.
“I’m just excited to be here and ready to get some good training,” Andrews said Sunday.
After that, the unit from Joint Base Lewis-McChord was going to get started on the mission for Cobra Gold — training.
“Starting tomorrow, we start getting serious — tomorrow is when we start all of the training we’re going to be doing with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry from the Royal Thai Army,” Kleisner said. “This is the first time our battalion has gotten to do this exercise, but it’s the 36th year the U.S Army has done it, which tells you a lot about the alliance we have with the Royal Thai Army.”