Royal Thai, U.S. Marines partner to improve combat accuracy, effectiveness

Royal Thai, U.S. Marines partner to improve combat accuracy, effectiveness

Royal Thai Marines and U.S. Marines line up for a pivot drill while firing a modified table 3 and 4 at Ban Chan Krem, Kingdom of Thailand during Exercise Cobra Gold 2014. Exercise Cobra Gold is a multinational and multiservice exercise that takes place annually in the Kingdom of Thailand and was developed by the Thai and U.S. militaries. The Thai Marines are with 3rd Company, 7th Battalion with the Royal Thai Marine Corps. Photo by LCpl Stephen Himes.

BAN CHAN KREM, Kingdom of Thailand (February, 20, 2014) -"Shooters, STANDBY!" echoes across the range as a line of Royal Thai and U.S Marines bring their rifles up to their shoulders and lean forward into their buttstocks.

Each shooter stands prepared to fire on the appropriate command. When that moment comes, the smell of sulfur fills the air as each Marine starts taking steps toward their target, squeezing the trigger.

Royal Thai Marines participated in a close quarters shoot, part of the combat marksmanship program, alongside U.S. Marines Feb. 15 at Ban Chan Krem, Kingdom of Thailand during Exercise Cobra Gold.

"Today's training included engaging targets between 50 meters and 5 meters," said 1stLt Paul Hollwedel, a platoon commander with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force under the unit deployment program. "The Marines had to shoot while moving, perform box and failure to stop drills and we threw in some hammered pairs."

The training is something that the Thai Marines look forward to every year.

"I really enjoyed the training today," said Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Kajohnpol Samsen, a rifleman with 3rd Company, 7th Battalion of the Royal Thai Marine Corps. "I've done this the past few years. We pull anyone not busy today (to the range) to attend this event."

The day started with classes on how to perform each individual drill and also familiarity with specific commands.

The language barrier was a challenge, according to Cpl Jonathan Pattison, a squad leader with Lima Company. But the interpreters helped a lot which allowed the unit to thoroughly explain how each drill is properly conducted.

"The hardest part for today was the presentation," said Pattison. "Normally we just go to a range with ammunition and shoot (because we're so familiar with it.) Today we had to explain and show how to do everything which was a true challenge."

The Thai Marines, while unfamiliar with the scheme of maneuver, still performed exceptionally well on the range, according the U.S. Marines.

Their groupings were tight across the board, according to Pattison. That showed they had good marksmanship fundamentals and abilities. It was good to see a group of well-trained Marines from a different nation.

The Thai Marines moved through the course of fire alongside the U.S. Marines until lunch when they all sat down to get to know each other on a personal level.

"We are trying to foster and strengthen our relationship with our allies here in the Asian-Pacific Region," said Hollwedel. "Moments like this, being able to sit down and have lunch together, are doing exactly that on (another) level."

The Thai Marines agreed that the training was good but they truly look forward to when they can sit down and talk with U.S. Marines.

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