KORAT ROYAL THAI AIR FORCE BASE, Thailand -- Combined forces from the U.S. Air Force, Royal Thai air force and Republic of Singapore air force joined forces to execute Cope Tiger 13 here March 10. The annual field training exercise, comprised of aviation and ground units, is designed to enhance interoperability and relations amongst each nation's air forces. "Cope Tiger offers U.S. personnel a unique opportunity to integrate closely with our Thai and Singaporean counterparts to develop a multilateral common operating picture and improve combined combat readiness," said Lt. Col. Keith Gibson, the deputy director of Cope Tiger 13.
More than 1,900 people are participating in the exercise, including approximately 365 U.S. servicemembers and 1,500 servicemembers from Thailand and Singapore. Gibson said establishing relationships early on during the planning phase of the exercise is a key component to the continued success of Cope Tiger, which the U.S. has participated in since 1994.
U.S. and Thai servicemembers make it a priority to engage with one another during the days leading up to the exercise by discussing ways to improve communication, execute command and control of forces, and by enhancing large force employment capabilities through aircrew subject matter expert exchanges. Leading the U.S. exchange effort is Capt. Jon O'Rear, an F-15 pilot assigned to the 44th Fighter squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan, and Maj. Bryan Nickola from the 25th Fighter Squadron at Osan Air Base, South Korea. The pair instructed approximately 75 Thai counterparts during a mission commander course at Korat Royal Thai air force base March 9. "As a mission commander, it's important to understand the different facets and angles that you have to take in account to plan an operation with multiple types of aircraft in order to get the mission done--from the planning and execution phases, to the debrief," O'Rear said. O'Rear said the exchange was mutually beneficial by continuing to build upon U.S.-Thai security relations and sharing corporate knowledge of operations with the Royal Thai air force. Five types of training will be conducted during Cope Tiger 13, including dissimilar basic fighter maneuver training, air combat tactics training, close air support training, tactical airdrop training, and large force employment training.
"I sincerely believe the knowledge and experiences gained from this exercise will be of great benefit to our participants and to our air forces as a whole," said Group Capt. Napadej Dhupatemiya, Royal Thai air force exercise director. The exercise is scheduled to conclude March 22.