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NEWS | March 11, 2020

Cobra Gold 20: 340th Public Affairs Detachment tests mettle

By Staff Sgt. Kevin Spence First Army

Exercise Cobra Gold 20 is a Thailand and United States co-sponsored Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) and Joint Theater Security Cooperation (JTSC) exercise annually conducted in the Kingdom of Thailand. CG20 is the 39th iteration of the Cobra Gold series of exercises. Cobra Gold is an important element of the United States and participating nations’ regional military to military engagement efforts to maintain readiness and increase the capability, capacity and interoperability of partnered nations while simultaneously reinforcing our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. It brings together more than 5,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines to partner with the Kingdom of Thailand in a multitude of exercises, but while many are conducting engineering and jungle survival training, others such as 340th Public Affairs Detachment are telling the story of the exercise.

When he learned about the opportunity to tell the story of Cobra Gold, U.S. Army Reserve 340th PAD commander Capt. Frederick Agee quickly signed up his Soldiers to validate his unit on key tasks with real-world experience.

“For us to be able to come here and work together with our Royal Thai Forces counterparts, it shows the flexibility of Reserve units and Reserve Soldiers,” said Agee. “I want my Soldiers to know that we can be in any environment, go to any country or any location and be able to work within those parameters and accomplish our public affairs mission.”

For the 340th PAD, more than half the unit is composed of Reserve Soldiers coming from other Reserve units looking for an opportunity to deploy and in some cases this would be their first. The variety of experience enabled the unit to learn from each other, enhancing their skills in the art of communication, photography, video, and on-camera interviewing.

“We had to learn each other to see where we all fit and try to build off of that, we’re all still learning what each other’s skill sets are so that we can become better journalists,” said Staff Sgt. David Graves, U.S. Army Reserve 340th PAD operations noncommissioned officer.

The 340th PAD served with their interagency partners and the Royal Thai Army in a Combined Joint Information Bureau (CJIB), which is a facility established by the joint force commander to serve as the focal point for the interface between the military and the media during the conduct of joint operations.

The 340th PAD mission is to produce content for Cobra Gold and despite the austere conditions of working out of an open-air structure, the unit still managed to have a consistent presence throughout Cobra Gold covering events such as the Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX) to several Humanitarian Civic Assistance (HCA) projects around the Kingdom of Thailand.

“We work well together and we understand the job,” said Graves. “There is a language barrier, but we still have that common tongue of public affairs and we’re always going to have that interoperability aspect too because we know the job.”

The U.S. and the Royal Thai Forces are heavily invested in our partnership made stronger by Cobra Gold, but that didn’t stop 340th PAD Public Affairs NCO Sgt. Jermaine Jackson from making his own assessment for the next Exercise Cobra Gold.

“Having an interpreter is essential when working with our Thai counterparts,” said Jackson. “The interpreter is like a conduit that allows us to work more efficiently with the Thai and make it easier for the Royal Thai Forces to work effortlessly with us and essentially create seamless interoperability between our forces.”