02.18.2016 -- BAN SA YAI, Thailand - Warm air blows gently through tents as children and adults wait for the start of the dedication ceremony for a one-room multi-purpose educational building began Feb. 18 at Ban Sa Yai, Trat, Thailand. The ceremony brought a close to the work and effort of the Thai, U.S. and Malaysian military engineering teams during Exercise Cobra Gold 16.
Cobra Gold, in its 35th iteration, is the largest multinational exercise in Asia and is an integral part of the U.S. commitment to strengthen engagement and partnerships in the region.
The ceremony included performances from local school children, comments from distinguished visitors and the handing off of the building to the school.
The distinguished visitors that presided over the dedication ceremony were Royal Thai Army Gen. Wichien Sirisoonthorn, Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters; U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Russell Sanborn, commanding general of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force; Malaysian Army Lt. Col. Hj Adnan bin HJ Othman, Malaysian Armed Forces; and Mr. Channa Eiumsang, governor of Trat Province.
“I’d like to begin by extending my warmest “Thank You” to our Thai host and partners for the hospitality throughout Cobra Gold 2016,” said Sanborn, commanding general of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “It has truly been an honor to train with our Thai counterparts and to be a part of one of the strongest alliances in the Indo-Asian Pacific region,” said Sanborn.
The construction at Ban Sa Yai was one of six humanitarian civic action projects in which Indo-Asian Pacific nation’s militaries worked together on the construction of vertical buildings and other civic programs to support security and humanitarian interests of friends and partner nations.
The engineer civic action projects have managed to improve the relationship between participating countries and we have shared experience and knowledge between the member teams involved, said Othman, Malaysian Armed Forces. The ENCAPs will strengthen the cooperation between international forces and enhance the confidence within the local community, said Othman.
The HCA programs helped to improve the quality of life, as well as the general health and welfare of civilian residents in the exercise areas. Community engagement and medical activities conducted during the exercise helped to support the needs and humanitarian interests of civilian populations around the region.
This year, Cobra Gold emphasized coordination on civic action, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, with the aim of expanding regional cooperation and collaboration in these vital areas with partner nations and allies.
“We have been partners with Thailand for more than 180 years, one of the great things about this relationship is that it keeps growing to include other nations,” said Sanborn. “Here at Ban Sa Yai we were able to partner with the Malaysians. We are happy to support the security and humanitarian interests of our friends and partner nations,” said Sanborn.