TRAT PROVINCE, Kingdom of Thailand -- U.S. Marines worked alongside Royal Thai Army and Navy personnel in Thailand during Exercise Cobra Gold 18 as part of a subject-matter-expert exchange to dispose of unexploded ordnance and explosive remnants of war.
In four days, Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel from the Thailand Mine Action Center and U.S. Marines with 9th Engineer Support Battalion disposed of 5,371 pieces of UXO inside of Trat Province, Thailand.
U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jordan Torcello, the EOD Team SNCOIC for the Cobra Gold EOD SMEE and Team Chief for the U.S. Marine Forces Pacific humanitarian mine action program in Thailand, said that the operation contributed to the betterment of Thailand.
“Clearing the area of unexploded ordnance allows for cultivation of the land,” Gunnery Sgt. Torcello said. “One of the main reasons why this operation is so important is because it prevents the threat of injury and stops explosives from falling into the wrong hands.”
Demining teams from Humanitarian Mine Action Unit 2 collected and stacked the UXO before the U.S. Marines arrived in Thailand. The Marines used C-4 explosives to dispose of the ordnance by detonation. The two allied nations shared ideas and techniques with each other in order to effectively and safely dispose of the hazards.
U.S. Marine Sgt. Brendan Campbell, an EOD team member, said that his unit focuses on training and teaching classes that focus on proper disposal techniques and how to handle UXO. He said he recognized some of the Royal Thai service members from those periods of instruction.
“We’ve taught a bunch of the Royal Thai service members in classes over the years,” Sgt. Campbell said. “To see them work in an actual scenario is awesome. They are a pleasure to work alongside of.”
Royal Thai Army Lt. Gen. Sittipol Nimnuan, Director General of the Thailand Mine Action Center, said the partnership between the nations is a joy to be a part of. “It always feels good to make a difference. Knowing that this project is helping Thailand means the world to me.”
Lt. Gen. Nimnuan, along with U.S. Marine Lt. Col. William Nash, the commanding officer of Combat Logistics Battalion 4 attended the final day of EOD operations at HMAU-2.
Lt. Col. Nash said that it was motivating for him to see his Marines working and learning alongside their TMAC EOD counterparts.
“It’s been a while since I’ve done this type of thing,” Lt. Col. Nash said after placing C-4 on top of a pile of UXO. “It’s good to know that Marines assigned to CLB-4 are working with a great group of human beings such as the Royal Thai Marines to help make things better over here in Thailand.”
Lt. Col. Nash said he hopes these operations can continue from year to year, and that CLB-4 Marines take their partnership with the Kingdom of Thailand very seriously. He said it was an honor to be involved with such an important partnership between the two countries.