Military planners from more than 24 nations are in Thailand making a plan to deal with aggressive Arcadian military forces that took over a portion of neighboring Khuistan and Free Mojave on the subcontinent of Pacifica.
The countries, timeline and scenario of the Arcadia situation are make-believe, but this staff exercise, part of Cobra Gold 2011, is as real as the 200-plus people working on just this portion of the overall event.
Participants in the STAFFEX are planning the operational exercise for Cobra Gold 2012. The plan they develop over the next two weeks will be the plan used in February 2012 when a new group of people congregate in Thailand to respond to the Arcadia situation.
The countries involved now are pretending it is November 2011, and they are writing a plan to implement on a subcontinent in the Pacific Ocean. The fictional continent is an exact geographical match of a cutout area of North America.
"We're not going there to fight a war with Arcadia," said Thai army Col. Suriya Eamsuro, the STAFFEX lead planner. "The plan shouldn't be to take people and weapons out, but to deploy forces and use information operations to help Arcadia to think what they did wasn't right, and we shouldn't have to fight at all."
The 25-year Thai army veteran said he is honored that Thailand is the lead nation for Cobra Gold, but he worries some of the benefits of the training will be lost in translation.
"It takes time to understand what is written and said in English," Colonel Eamsuro said. "I worry it will affect the STAFFEX mission. Misunderstandings can be minor to major; just like what happens in a real operation."
U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Vince Koopman, the coalition lead planner for Cobra Gold, said building partnerships is more important than the final product produced at the STAFFEX.
"The fact that we come from varying services, backgrounds and unique experiences should not be viewed as an impediment to our success, but melded to leverage the collective expertise of our cohesive multinational force team," Major Koopman said. "The most important aspect of CG 2011 isn't the products we produce, but the relationships we build between our multinational partners."
Lt. Col. Adrian Kinimaka, of STAFFEX Air Force Forces, said this is his first Cobra Gold, and he is still learning from other members of his section who have been to this exercise in years past.
"At this level, what I've seen is willingness to learn from each other," he said. "The United States has a lot to offer. Our partners are receptive and are taking initiative to work with us in certain key areas."
The outcome of the Arcadia situation won't be known for about year because the scenario won't be implemented until February 2012.
The nations gathered will develop a plan that will eventually bring peace and stability to entire Pacifica region, Colonel Eamsuro said. Friendships built now will also pay big dividends if the nations involved ever have to respond to a real crisis.
CG 2011 is the 30th time multinational forces have gathered in Thailand for this exercise. The annual Thai and United States co-sponsored joint and multinational event includes Thailand, the United States, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore as participating nations. In addition, representatives from 18 multinational planning augmentation team nations and observer nations include Cambodia, China, Italy, Russia and South Africa.
Article by 1st Lt. Jason Smith, 15th Wing Public Affairs