American troops slurped cobra blood and noshed on rats while learning how to survive in harsh environments during annual drills underway in Thailand.
This week's jungle survival training is one of the highlights of Cobra Gold, which began Feb. 13 and wraps up on Friday. It's the largest multinational military exercise in Southeast Asia, with more than 11,000 troops from 29 nations participating.
"We learned how to make fire out of bamboo and kindling, we learned how to make traps using banana rope and also learned how to cook a rat," Army Pfc. Alex Davis said in a Marine Corps statement. "That was pretty interesting. That's not something you learn back in the States."
Thai jungle survival instructors then observed and assisted as U.S. and Thai troops showed off what they learned.
"The most beneficial training was learning the various resources for water," said Army Sgt. Dilon Sawyers. "We learned how to get water from the banana plant and figure out different ways to get water other than streams and bodies of water."
Another source of water is cobra blood, which instructors poured into students' mouths. Marines later described the blood as tasting "fishy."
"When you are out there by yourself, you cannot worry about your emotions," Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Pairoj Prasansai, a Thai Reconnaissance Marine, said in an American Forces Network report last year. "When your life is on the line, you simply have to do what you have to do to survive. You have to value your life."
Now in its 37th year, Cobra Gold is aimed at improving coordination between U.S. forces and key allies in the region. It involves evacuation drills, disaster-relief missions and traditional military drills such as amphibious landings.
Participants include host Thailand, the United States, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and representatives from 22 other nations either observing or participating in a limited manner.