February 3, 2009
- Soldiers provide warm welcome to Cobra Gold participants
CHIANG MAI, Thailand - As participants of Cobra Gold 09 step foot in Thailand after what can be a long, tiring flight, they are welcomed and oriented by members of the Joint Reception Center staff at various hubs throughout the country.
Since Jan. 22, Soldiers of the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion from Camp Zama, Japan, have been hard at work ensuring military personnel and civilian contractors involved in the 28th annual training exercise get in-processed and transported to their final destination in an efficient manner through JRCs.
Cobra Gold is a regularly scheduled joint/coalition multinational exercise and is the latest in the continuation series of U.S.-Thai military exercise designed to ensure regional peace and stability.
Currently, JRCs are set up in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Utapao International Airports. When necessary, they also travel to Korat and Phitsanulok to receive personnel arriving on chartered or military aircraft.
"We are the first people they see as part of Cobra Gold and it is our responsibility to ensure accountability and get people to the right place," said Sgt. Cassandra Wong, a staff member at JRC Chiang Mai.
Administrative personnel provide information on incoming personnel itineraries to JRC staff, who in turn ensure they receive the correct number of personnel from each inbound flight. In order to make their presence known, JRC personnel stand by in the baggage claim area, displaying signs with the CG 09 logo and telling people where to go.
Once they have identified themselves to JRC staff, incoming personnel are entered into the Tactical Processing System, a computer program which ensures total accountability for personnel assigned to this year's exercise, according to Wong.
After identifying which part of the exercise a person is involved, JRC personnel ensure each individual is transported to the correct location
JRC staff is located at the airports around the clock in order to catch personnel who may not have been on the rosters and come in unexpectedly. On their first day on the job at JRC Chiang Mai, personnel were told to expect approximately 20 personnel and consequently they arranged for transportation to accommodate that number. When they ended up receiving more than 50 people, they had to call in last-minute transportation.
"We fix any problems that may come up as soon as we notice them in order to avoid confusion later on down the line. We do everything we can to make the process quick and smooth," said Wong.
Along with ensuring a smooth check-in process, the Soldiers of the 35th CSSB also locate missing baggage and arrange for delivery to the right person.
"They are the key link to ensure inland transportation assets are laid on for movement by van, buses, baggage trucks to eliminate extended stay at the airport," said Maj. Stephanie Barton, joint logistics representative for CG 2009.
JRC staff will be hard at work through the end of the exercise. Upon the completion of events, they will make sure personnel are out-processed and arrange transportation to the airports and main hubs.
According to Barton, their efforts have not gone unnoticed, as several high-ranking officers and unit commanders have acknowledged how smoothly they have been operating.
"We are here to provide support," said Staff. Sgt. Aurelio Jimenez, JRC Chiang Mai staff member. "That is our mission."