US Military conducts military training exercise to send a message to North Korea. According to a June 2016 BBC news report, Abu Sayyaf is one of the smallest and most violent jihadist groups operating in the southern Philippines. Notorious for kidnapping, the group has been responsible for at least 16 attacks since last March on ships in the Sulu and Celebes areas of the South China Sea; just 1,300 miles from the site of the Cobra Gold 2017 Staff Exercise.
With $40 billion in cargo passing each year through this region, and more importantly, hundred of lives at stake of being held captive by a terrorist group well-known for committing senseless acts of violence, combatting piracy is a serious concern in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
From Feb. 14 to the 24, senior leaders from over 10 nations will coordinate and practice the preparation for events like those committed by Abu Sayyaf. The STAFFEX scenario focuses on counter-piracy and maritime security operations, dealing with significant humanitarian complications and works to sustain and reinforce the foundation and framework for a combined task force to respond rapidly and effectively to regional crises.
“This 36th iteration of Cobra Gold demonstrates the importance of peace and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific,” said U.S. Air Force Col. David Moeller, STAFFEX Control Group co-director. “The STAFFEX specifically highlights the procedures and interoperability requirements required among the seven partner nations and the seven [Multinational Planning and Augmentation Team] nations for peacekeeping operations.”
Located at Camp Red Horse, in Utapao, Kingdom of Thailand, Multi-National Forces will employ a scenario concept established under a United Nations-Authorized authority and that is based on the fictitious continent of “Pacifica”.
Although there are emphasizes on specific and real-word-based situations, the underlying concept inspired through STAFFEX is about promoting and developing relationships between various nations and military organizations. The challenge: communicating a common language in a diverse environment to achieve a common goal.
“This exercise provides an opportunity for the personnel from all the participating countries and services to work together and get to know one another,” said Victor Tomseth, STAFFEX Control Group political-military subject matter expert. “However, another related and vital opportunity that the exercise provides for people who speak different national languages and different service languages, is to develop a common idiom that they can communicate with one another and in a secure environment.”
Evident throughout the STAFFEX scenarios, the event is bigger than the makeup of the specific scenarios; it’s about cooperation. Whether the STAFFEX participants are engaged in streamlining crises strategies for noncombatant evacuation operations, or forcible entry operations, counter-piracy, embargo enforcement, and humanitarian assistance, the ability to merge under a singular mission and work together is the ultimate intent of CG17.
“It’s great to understand the process, especially the multi-national planning process,” emphasized Royal Thai Armed Forces Col. Marut Plengkham, STAFFEX Control Group co-director. “You see the process and learn about different ideas and how those ideas differ from each country and we learn and share those experiences to do good things.”
This perspective has been echoed throughout the STAFFEX participants and the benefits for merging together to help learn about cooperative strategies has been lauded as necessary for future successes.
“I think the relationships built and developed here are important and I attribute that to trust and assurance” said U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Eric Fagen, STAFFEX Control Group Operations Officer. “If there is an emergency or a contingency of some sort in this region in the future, the assurance established is that we have some familiarity on how we work together and the relationships we cultivated here will spill into those real-world events.”
“This exercise offers different kinds of planning procedures that slightly differ from how we all do it back in our own nations and understanding better procedures, specifically planning procedures, will defiantly help us in the future,” said Singapore Armed Forces Maj. Melvin Gou, plans officer. “Everyone brings a certain perspective and usefulness to the whole panning procedure, but because we have different planning procedures, we can bring alternate perspectives and provide another route of thinking that may make the whole procedure more robust and more comprehensive.”
Video Description Credit: Tech. Sgt. Steven Doty
Video Credit: US Military
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