Photo Information

U.S. Army Maj. Alejandro Buniag, deputy commander of the Combined Joint Civil-Military Task Force element of Exercise Cobra Gold 2015, and a native of Yigo, Guam, delivers a speech during the dedication ceremony for a new multipurpose facility at Ban Nhong-Plong Elementary School, located in Chai Badan District, Lop Buri Province, Thailand, on Feb. 19. As part of CG15, a multinational force of Royal Thai Armed Forces, People’s Liberation Army of China and U.S. Army engineers began constructing the new building at Ban Nhong-Plong in mid-January. The facility will serve as a cafeteria, community center and hallmark of 182 years of friendship between the Thai and American peoples. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. James Marchetti)

Photo by Cpl. James Marchetti

Thai Communities Celebrate New School Buildings

23 Feb 2015 | Cpl. Ricardo Hurtado I Marine Expeditionary Force

As Exercise Cobra Gold 2015 comes to an end, several communities across Thailand received new school buildings as part of the Engineer Civil/Humanitarian Assistance Program portion of the exercise.

CG 15 is a combined-forces exercise taking place in numerous locations throughout Thailand from Feb. 9-20 and is designed to advance regional security and ensure effective responses to crises in the area. This year’s focus is on humanitarian civic action, community engagement and medical activities to support the needs and humanitarian interests of civilian populations in the region.

The Combined Joint Civil-Military Operation Task Force led the HCA mission focus, and was responsible for constructing multipurpose buildings for several local schools in different districts in Thailand.

The dedication ceremonies were held to mark the end of each construction project, representing the official handover of the structures to the community and celebrating the hard work put in by all partner nations to complete the buildings. 

The four construction sites were located at schools in under-served areas of Lop Buri, Saraburi and Chanthaburi provinces. The outcome of the projects was the construction of a 7.8-by-20-meter multipurpose, masonry building at each site. The structures will be used by the schools as libraries or classrooms, and by the villagers as community centers or even farmers’ markets.

Rear Admiral Klahan Petchmisri, commander of the Royal Thai Marine Corps Division spoke during the dedication ceremony of ENCAP Site 4 in Kang Hang Maew district, Chanthaburi province, and said that the relationship built by the multinational team not only strengthened interoperability between the partner nations, but also strengthened the quality of education in the region. 

“This year’s training exercise was a combined one, that was designed to help the communities," said Petchmisri. “I wish for you to take care of this building, as it shall be passed down to future generations as part of our heritage.” 

U.S. commanders also attended the ceremonies and were able to see the final products that resulted from the hard work of their troops and their counterparts. 

“From the day [the troops] hit the ground, they came together as a true partner force. They began from the ground level, they put in long hours and long days, and then today we can all see what the product was,” said Brig. Gen. Steven R. Rudder, commanding general, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. “This is part of what [we] do best, we give back to the communities [that surround the training areas], much like we do in the U.S., and much like we do in Okinawa.”

Teachers and students of the schools where the buildings were constructed, local villagers and community leaders gathered to celebrate. 

Prasit Pasook, principal of Ban Sub Prik School, in Muaklek district, Saraburi province, said the building constructed at his school will enhance primary education in the community, as it will serve as a new classroom building for students in kindergarten through 2nd grade. 

“This building is not just a building,” said Pasook. “It’s a blessing to a community that very much needed it.” 

The ceremonies at each site included music, food, presentations by the students, the unveiling of the dedication plaques and the planting of ceremonial trees by distinguished visitors in front of each building.  

The multinational force of the CJCMOTF that made the buildings a reality was comprised of U.S. Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and National Guardsmen; Royal Thai Armed Forces; Indonesian Armed Forces; Malaysian Armed Forces; People’s Republic of China, People’s Liberation Army; and Indian Armed Forces.

For more information on exercise Cobra Gold, please visit the official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ExerciseCobraGold.