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NEWS | March 11, 2020

US, Royal Thai Marine Corps Breach, Clear Obstacles Showcasing Combined Arms Firepower during Final Exercise

By 1st Lt. Demond Glover 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

BAN CHEN KHREM, Kingdom of Thailand -- Explosions and bullets rain past obstacles as the Royal Thai Marine Corps and U.S. Marines clear ground in a bilateral assault March 5, 2020, as part of exercise Cobra Gold 2020. Over the course of an hour, a force of over 100 Marines and Thais demonstrated combat breaching of obstacles and indirect fire support for combined arms rehearsals.

Participating units from the Royal Thai military executed a ground assault with Royal Thai Marine Corps BTR-60s, artillery, and 60 mm mortars with support by Marine Corps 81 mm mortars, artillery, and M2 .50 caliber heavy machine gun fire.

Culminating from days of bilateral drills and rehearsals, the combined force fully integrated into a fires and maneuver team capable of coordinating artillery, missile fire and sniper support in order to break barriers to progress in an assault mission.

“Combined arms maneuver is foundational to Marine Corps warfighting,” said Col. Robert Brodie, commanding officer of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. “Together with our Thai counterparts, we were able to refine our techniques and demonstrate how we would overcome battlefield challenges side-by-side in order to close with and destroy the adversary.”

After the initial assault, U.S. Marine combat engineers used the M-58 Mine Clearing Line Charge, or MICLIC, to clear mines and improvised explosive devices. The MICLIC clears mine fields by firing a line charge that, when detonated, can clear ground for troops and vehicles to safely navigate contested areas. With the combined effects of indirect fire, ground troop assault, and integrated maneuver, the demonstration revealed just how effective a bilateral force can be.

Fire support and infantry integration drives realistic and challenging U.S.-Royal Thai Marine Corps combat decision-making. Protecting and empowering the infantry Marine on the front line for mission completion is everything the Royal Thai and U.S. Marine Corps train for. Combining indirect fire to suppress the enemy while simultaneously maneuvering to assault exemplifies how the Corps enables the ground troops to win in battle.

Indirect Fire typically involves utilization of artillery or mortars, but can also include varied and heavier weapon systems such as cannon fire from Navy surface ships. Using IDF is important in a ground assault because it allows infantry to move closer to the enemy on foot, while the enemy is simultaneously suppressed from the indirect fire. Enemy forces choosing to not take cover from this fire, find themselves quickly decimated.

Exercise Cobra Gold demonstrates the commitment of the Kingdom of Thailand and the United States to our long- standing alliance, promotes regional partnerships and advances security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
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