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Sailor participates in multi-national military exercise

Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey D. Buss

UTAPAO, Thailand -- For the son of a New Richmond couple, being an ambassador for peace in a country known for its spicy cuisine, magnificent colorful temples and lush jungles where deadly cobra snakes are king, was quite an experience.

Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey D. Buss, son of Jon and JoAnn Buss of New Richmond, participated in Cobra Gold 2010, the largest multi-lateral military training exercise in the Pacific region.

Sponsored by the Royal Thai Supreme Command and United States Pacific Command, Cobra Gold is conducted throughout the Kingdom of Thailand. This year's participants are Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, United States and, for the first time, the Republic of Korea.

"I am serving as the naval forces communications officer," said Buss, who is assigned as an assistant chief of staff for the Expeditionary Strike Group Seven, Combined Task Force 76, Okinawa, Japan. "I make sure that all of the equipment for the four-nation coalition is properly set up."

Since its inception in 1982, Cobra Gold has developed into an important symbol of the U.S. military's commitment to maintaining peace and security in Asia. The exercise provides realistic training, improves efficiency through military coordination and tests military operations.

Service members work on their tactical skills and test their ability to operate in a joint, multi-national environment. These range from amphibious assaults to engineering and medical humanitarian and civic assistance projects geared toward improving the quality of life of the Thai people. They also practiced noncombatant civilian personnel evacuation operations used during disaster-relief needs.

This type of training gives Buss a chance to improve his individual skills and experience the culture of other countries.

"This region is very important for national security and peacekeeping operations. We have wonderful relations with Thailand, Singapore and the Republic of Korea navies," said Buss, who graduated in 1989 from Amery High School, and in 1993 from Marquette University, Milwaukee. "This exercise gives us the chance to all work together toward one goal."

Thailand is quite a contrast to the hustle and bustle of the United States. With its tropical landscape, exotic beaches and animal wildlife, it is also sometimes referred to as the "Venice of the East." With its canals and rivers, inland waterways still maintain their dominance over daily life.

Instead of retail shopping markets that Buss and the others are accustomed to, floating markets abound with sellers who pack their wares - a variety of tropical fruits, flowers, vegetables and fresh produce, onto small boats and jostle with each other for the attention of buyers alongside the canals.

"Thailand is a wonderful country full of amazing sights and friendly people," said Buss, who has been in the military for 15 years.

In an age where it is just as important for countries to support peace operations, Buss and his multi-national military partners understand firsthand what it takes to bring many countries together to respond to disasters and humanitarian assistance around the world.