NAVY LEAGUE NEWS
Sailors, Marines and civilian mariners taking part in the recent exercise Cobra Gold ’ 16 participated
in a number of humanitarian assistance projects and
outreach events in communities throughout the
Kingdom of Thailand. For those that were conducted
in the area around Pattaya, on the Gulf of Thailand,
Navy Leaguers with the Siam Council were there to not
only lend a hand, but facilitate and plan the events.
The council supported five community relations
projects, or COMRELs, with teams from the dock landing ship USS Ashland and Expeditionary Port Units
(EPUs) 102 and 111 from late January to late February,
and arranged a special mission by the dry cargo/ammu-nition ship USNS Charles Drew, according to President
Cobra Gold is the largest multinational exercise in Asia
and an integral part of the U.S. effort to strengthen engagement and partnerships in the region, according to the U.S.
Navy. Civic assistance and outreach projects were among
the three missions of Cobra Gold — which was co-hosted
by Thailand and the United States — along with a command post exercise that included a senior leader seminar
and a field training exercise to build regional relationships.
Building relationships also is an integral part of the
COMRELs, according to Thorand, who has been taking part in these events for almost 20 years.
“What the U.S. Navy needs from [these events] is a
positive interaction and to form a long-lasting friendship with the people at the places we visit,” he said in
an e-mail response to Seapower questions. “And that
always happens, since we are going to areas” where
service personnel typically have never been before.
“This is one of the most important events during a port
visit by any ship, when we bring locals and U.S. Navy
together. They will, in no time, bond together,” he said.
This is especially true of local children, he added,
“who will always look positive toward the visitors,
they will always remember the visit by the Navy and
their generosity and kindness.”
Much of the focus of the Cobra Gold COMRELs in
the Pattaya area was on local children. The COMRELs
were planned and arranged by Thorand, with the assis-
tance of Navy League members in Chantabury and
Pattaya who helped identify suitable locations as well
as pick up the crews, escort them to the events and, if
needed, act as translators.
The first COMREL was to the Huay Yai district on
Jan. 30, when eight members of EPU 111 — a Reserve
unit based out of Oklahoma City — went to the
Protection and Development Center (CPDC), which is
dedicated to caring for displaced children, orphans and
rescued trafficked children, according to a report from
Military Sealift Command (MSC) Far East.
“We came to deliver some school supplies and spend
some time with the kids,” EPU 111 commanding officer
Cmdr. Mark Early, a Reserve-component Sailor, said in
the MSC report. “We played some soccer and played
some games, and all the kids seemed to have a really
Prior to the visit, members of EPU 111 raised
enough funds to purchase much-needed school sup-
plies, toys and snacks to give to about 70 kids at
CPDC, who range in age from 4 to 17.
“It’s always good to give back to the community,” Early
said. “There’s nothing like getting to know the local culture and getting engaged and involved in the local community. … We wouldn’t have seen this part of the country
or their culture if we hadn’t conducted this event.”
Siam Teams Up With Sailors, Marines,
Mariners for Cobra Gold COMRELs
By PETER ATKINSON, Deputy Editor
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 54 SEAPOWER / APRIL 2016
Petty Officer 2nd Class Valery Gonzales, an information
system specialist and Reserve-component Sailor with
Expeditionary Port Unit 111, left, and a resident of the Child
Protection and Development Center in Huay Yai, Thailand,
right, douse baby powder on Peter Thorand, president of
the Navy League’s Siam Council, as part of a game during
an Exercise Cobra Gold community relations event Jan. 30.