Story by SGT Jon Heinrich on 02/25/2017Approximately five Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians from 716th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 303rd Explosive Ordnance Battalion, 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, have spent the past two weeks in Thailand working to ensure a safe training environment for the 3,600 total U.S. Forces at largest Theater Security Cooperation exercise in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, Cobra Gold.
While the multi-national training event focuses on joint theater security operations and emphasizes coordination on civic action, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, it also provides the opportunity to expand regional cooperation and collaboration in the humanitarian nature of the regional EOD mission. Regardless of nationality or service, EOD technicians worldwide are in the business of saving lives and property from the threat of explosive hazards, whether it's improvised explosive devices, unexploded ordnance, or munitions stockpiles.
"Cobra Gold provides an excellent forum to further develop EOD interoperability with our Royal Thai Army EOD partners," said Lt. Col. Shawn L. Kadlec, Battalion Commander of the 303rd Explosive Ordnance Battalion. "CG provides an amazing opportunity for us to continue to develop multi-national EOD interoperability and competencies that can be used in response to a wide array of operational circumstances, whether it's in support to counter-terrorism operations or eliminating explosive remnants of war threatening the civilian populace."
Cobra Gold is the first exercise for Pacific Pathways 17-1, an innovative approach employed by U.S. Army Pacific that links a series of Security Cooperation exercises with allied and partner militaries into an operation and deploys a unit that is task organized with enablers, personnel and material to conduct this operation. The "pathway" is the link between these bilateral and multi-lateral exercises, and the unit is mission tailored and task-organized for the series of exercises in its entirety.
The 8th Theater Sustainment Command supports Pacific Pathways and exercises like Cobra Gold in not only active participation by Soldiers from units like the 303rd EOD, but also the coordination for all the logistics requirements involved, including transportation, ammunition, and even Army watercraft.
While the threat of explosive hazards throughout the Indo Asia pacific region will inevitably continue to be a challenge, its one that the increased partnership and interoperability forged during Cobra Gold 17 will make easier to respond to for a safer and more secure Indo-Asia-Pacific.