HAD YAO BEACH, Thailand -- Marines and sailors with III Marine Expeditionary Force’s Special Operations Training Group conducted amphibious raid training with more than 40 Royal Thai reconnaissance Marines June 19-22 at Thailand’s Had Yao Beach.
The four-day exercise was part of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training 2007, an annual series of bilateral, maritime exercises between the United States and five Southeast Asian nations.
The amphibious training helped familiarize the Thai Marines with U.S. tactics, techniques and procedures, said Capt. Zaher Bouza, the officer in charge of the CARAT SOTG Detachment.
The training involved small boat operations by a main force while scout swimmers provided reconnaissance and security at the beach landing site.
“It’s important to build trust and confidence between the U.S and Thai Marines, specifically to enhance our interoperability during amphibious raid operations,” Bouza said.
During the four-day exercise, SOTG Marines demonstrated how the Marine Corps conducts amphibious operations, which included assembly of their Combat Rubber Reconnaissance Crafts, or Zodiacs; craft formations; recovering the Zodiacs after they have flipped in the water; and how to camouflage their craft once the beach is secured.
Several Marines were surprised by how extensive the Thai Marines amphibious operations program is.
“It seemed like they already knew what they were doing,” said Lance Cpl. Kenneth Belovarac, a coxswain with the detachment. “Despite the language barrier, they caught on fast.”
In addition to the boat operations, the Marines also conducted training with the Thai Marines’ scout swimmers, who swim to the beach landing site ahead of the Zodiacs to provide security.
“If a unit’s scout swimmers aren’t well trained, they won’t be able to properly check out the beach, and that would put the lives of everyone in the boats in danger,” said Lance Cpl. Ryan Hanson, a scout swimmer with the detachment. “The Thai Marines did a good job, and hopefully they took something from the training.”
As the training came to an end, many Thai Marines expressed a great appreciation for what was ultimately a welcomed and enjoyable experience.
“We had a really good time training with the U.S. Marines,” said Thai Marine Petty Officer 1st Class Samathi Paochaveon, a rifleman with 3rd Regiment, Royal Thai Marine Division. “It was a very educational and exciting exercise. We all had a lot of fun and hope the Marines come back.”
CARAT 2007, which also involves Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, is designed to build relationships and enhance the operational readiness of the participating forces.