YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Pacific Air Forces Airmen from the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, rolled up their sleeves and got dirty alongside international partner forces from the Royal Thai Air Force and the Indian Army Engineer Corps from Feb. 8 to March 11, in the Chai Badan area of Thailand.
Yokota Airmen worked to construct and improve multipurpose facilities in the region as part of a Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) training effort during the Cobra Gold 23 exercise.
Cobra Gold 23 is co-sponsored by the Kingdom of Thailand and the U.S. Marine Corps, with participation from the Republic of Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Republic of Singapore, Japan, and Malaysia, as well as other limited participants, planners, and observers from more than 20 additional nations.
“Exercises like Cobra Gold 23 build the connective tissue so we are all are better prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Scheffler, 374th Civil Engineer Squadron commander. “The efforts of the 374th CES engineer team demonstrates the U.S. commitment to the peace and stability of the Pacific by supporting the local community’s resilience, the economic development of Thailand, and strengthening our regional partnership.”
The combined force of 42 engineers worked throughout the past month to construct a 200 square foot classroom and comprehensive drainage system for a five-acre education campus.
“We’re working with an international team of fellow military engineers from India and Thailand,” said 1st Lt. Ryan Stancil, 374th Civil Engineer Squadron engineering operations chief. “Construction is the same everywhere, just the approaches differ, so this is a valuable way to bring our ideas together and find ways to communicate solutions to real problems quickly.”
The six-week-long humanitarian effort also afforded the builders opportunities to engage with the local teachers and students of the town.
“Playing soccer with the college students and singing karaoke with the teachers was great to experience,” Stancil said. “They acted as our guides to the local temples and natural sights nearby, really sharing their country and culture with us, which helped us put our hearts into our work.”
Cobra Gold is an annual opportunity to for partnering forces to strengthen interoperation capabilities while improving processes, but also allows for the continual building up the bond of friendship with the people of Thailand, helping the U.S. and its allies to uphold a peaceful and stable Indo-Pacific.