SAMAESAN, Thailand- Eight Royal Thai Reconnaissance Marines and 43 U.S. Marines conducted an Emergency Assault bilateral exercise here Feb. 9 during Exercise Cobra Gold 2009.
Cobra Gold is an annual joint, coalition multinational exercise focused on maintaining and improving military interoperability among its participants.
The U.S. Marines worked together with the Royal Thai Reconnaissance Marines to clear a building, which, in the scenario, was suspected of housing a meeting between two insurgent groups.
Upon receiving the warning order, the coalition force conducted an assault on the building where they swiftly gained entry into the house.
"From my experience, 80 percent of the time, when you go in, it ends up being a soft hit," said Sgt. Brandon McGraw, an instructor with Special Operations Training Group, Special Missions Branch, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
The difference between a soft hit and a hard hit, he explained, is that a hard hit uses explosives to breach into a building, and a soft hit only requires hand tools or may even be unlocked and unobstructed.
Upon breaching the house, the live-fire portion of the exercise commenced.
Inside the building, the team quickly identified and neutralized their first terrorist target - a bullet trap with a criminal silhouette posted over it. There were six hostile silhouettes placed in four rooms throughout the building, which challenged the team to act decisively.
"They must learn to assess hostile and non-hostile targets and think about every shot before they take it," said Gunnery Sgt. David Jarvis, chief instructor with the Special Missions Branch.
The Marines moved from room to room in a disciplined, precise manner, neutralizing the targets. There was even a tricky one depicting a small woman holding a gun to a larger man's head, demonstrating Jarvis' philosophy.
"In order for such a raid to go as smoothly as this one did, every team member on the target site must know his responsibilities down to the last detail, such as proper clearing tactics and target identification," said Cpl. Tyler Hinkley, a Deep Reconnaissance Plt. Marine with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. "By being so proficient, the platoon is able to focus on other areas of the raid, such as blowing caches on site and conducting searches of the building."
Throughout the scenario, the team also came across weapons and inert explosives, which the team systematically confiscated or destroyed, while holding tight security of the house and documenting the raid thoroughly.
"Team work is important because it takes the entire Maritime Raid Force to plan, insert and process a crisis site, minimizing collateral damage and gathering intelligence for future operations," said Jarvis.

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