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Sun, Feb 06, 2005

Cope Tiger Roars Over Thailand

2,100 Soldiers From Several Countries Participating In Large Force Employment Exercise

The sky here has been alive with the sounds of military aircraft from Thailand, Singapore and the United States supporting exercise Cope Tiger 05.

“Every year there are challenges that you deal with,” said Col. George Daniels, exercise director from Maxwell Air Force Base (AL). “The exercise players know how to do their jobs. They are professional, and they come out here and execute their mission.”

Cope Tiger is a Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed flight-training exercise that focuses on large force employment, where large numbers of different aircraft fly against each other simultaneously to simulate aerial combat.

More than 2,100 people are participating in Cope Tiger, including about 620 American servicemembers and 1,500 from Thailand and Singapore. U.S. Airmen include 144 troops from the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing at Hickam AFB and nearly 170 from the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Aircraft and Sailors from the USS Lincoln are also participating in the joint exercise.

“It is joint and combined the whole way through the process,” Colonel Daniels said.

Another facet of the exercise is the opportunities to get involved with off-base civil activities. A humanitarian civil assistance mission involving both sailors and airmen brought oral and eye care to local villages. They treated more than 1,000 patients.

Trips also were taken to local schools to teach conversational English, and servicemembers visited day-care centers where they spent time with the children and in some cases played instruments for them.

“These activities provide a great environment where the local community sees this exercise as much more than just a field training exercise,” Colonel Daniels said.

This is his second year as the exercise director where he is in charge of all U.S. military forces involved in the exercise.

“The corporate knowledge provided by coming back a second time helps facilitate our relationships with Thailand and Singapore,” Colonel Daniels said. “A lot of the same staff members from the Thai and Singaporean militaries have returned this year, and we continue to build on outstanding working relationships.”

This year, participation in the exercise took an unexpected change in the aftermath of the December 26 tsunamis that caused great devastation.

“We are fortunate to be able to accomplish this exercise in the wake of tsunami-relief operations,” Colonel Daniels said. “Cope Tiger is important for the countries involved -- it facilitates working effectively together in emergency situations, such as the tsunami relief.

“The Marines were diverted at the last minute to do tsunami relief, which was the right thing to do, and the Navy was afforded the opportunity to participate in the exercise,” he said. “The Navy has been a great addition to the exercise this year, and we appreciate their willingness to participate.”

Colonel Daniels said he is very content that the exercise has met its goal of regional engagement as the pilots train to fly with, and against, dissimilar aircraft.

“We have three countries working together towards a common goal -- learning how to interoperate as we learn the respective strengths and weaknesses of each others’ airframes,” he said.

(Our thanks to 2nd. Lt. Ben Sakrisson of U.S. Forces Japan Public Affairs)

FMI: www.af.mil

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