- On February 12, the US and Thailand launched Cobra Gold, one of the largest multi-national exercises in the world.
- The annual exercise brings together 29 nations as participants or observers; nine participating countries include the US and Thailand as well as Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, China, India, Indonesia, and South Korea, according to a US Army release.
- The exercise, which will end on Friday, includes a field training exercise, humanitarian and disaster relief components.
- One of the most anticipated aspects of the exercise is jungle survival training, when Royal Thai Marines teach their US counterparts how to identify edible foods, including plants and animals.
- During the training, US troops have the opportunity to eat scorpions and geckos, and drink snake blood – all skills necessary to survive if one becomes isolated from their unit.
These Marines aren’t drinking snake blood just for show.
Jungle training teaches essential skills for survival in a wild, tropical environment.
Marines learn skills from identifying poisonous plants, differentiating between venomous and non-venomous snakes, and finding water sources if they get lost.
One of the instructors interviewed by Marine Staff Sgt. Matthew Bragg said that drinking animal blood is one way to stay hydrated in the absence of another water source.
This anticipated part of their training will come in handy if Marines become isolated from their unit and far from the logistics train they normally depend on.
Instructors show Marines how to identify venomous and non-venomous snakes.
An instructor handles non-venomous snakes.
The Marines also learn how to find and eat other jungle creatures, like geckos and gibbons.
An instructor feeds a Marine a scorpion.
Marines also learn which plants are edible.
An instructor shows Marines how to bite into the skin of a pineapple.
Marines also learn skills like building fires and alternate ways to stay hydrated.
“I didn’t know that ants are a trace of water. Wherever they’re filing to, they know where the location of water is,” said US Army Spc. Louis Smith.
Smith said that new knowledge is something he’d take back home with him.
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