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See Marines handle tarantulas and vipers to be ready to fight in the jungle

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  • Thai and US Marines confronted deadly jungle creatures in survival training in Thailand.

  • Exercise Cobra Gold demonstrated skills to Marines to help endure harsh jungle environments.

  • Animal rights activists slammed the past exercises that involved Marines drinking cobra blood.

US Marines came face-to-face with deadly jungle critters in a survival training in Thailand last month.

The training was part of a larger US-Thai annual military drill called Exercise Cobra Gold, which aims to promote “collaboration to enhance regional stability” in the Indo-Pacific.

The world’s longest-running multinational military exercise

Royal Thai Marine instructors discuss poisonous vines with US Marines during a jungle survival demonstration

Royal Thai Marine instructors discuss poisonous vines with US Marines during a jungle survival demonstration at Exercise Cobra Gold in Sattahip, Chonburi province, Thailand.US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Patrick Katz

First established in 1982, Cobra Gold is the world’s longest-running multinational military exercise.

“Cobra Gold provides a platform to refine our strategies, test our readiness, and cultivate the friendships that are the foundation of effective multinational cooperation,” Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson, commanding general of I Corps and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, said at the training event’s opening ceremony.

“It’s an honor to be part of this robust multinational force dedicated to promoting our shared goals and security commitments in the Indo-Pacific.”

The largest joint exercise in mainland Asia

A Royal Thai Marine instructor shows the fangs of a venomous spider

A Royal Thai Marine instructor shows the fangs of a venomous spider at a jungle survival demonstration during Exercise Cobra Gold in Sattahip, Chonburi province, Thailand.US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Patrick Katz

Since its inception, Cobra Gold has expanded to include more than two dozen other countries, including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, and South Korea, making it the largest joint exercise in mainland Asia.

More than 9,000 military personnel from 30 countries — half of which came from US forces — participated in the two-week multinational military exercise, which ran from late February to early March.

Familiarizing themselves with the flora and fauna

A Royal Thai Marine instructor holds a gecko

A Royal Thai Marine instructor holds a gecko at a jungle survival demonstration during Exercise Cobra Gold in Sattahip, Chonburi province, Thailand.US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Patrick Katz

US Marines took part in the Cobra Gold’s survival training, where they learned the dangers of the jungle and how to live off the land. The training was held in Sattahip in the Chonburi province of Thailand — about 80 miles away from Bangkok.

Instructors also demonstrated the various deadly spiders and venomous snakes they could encounter in the jungle. During the training, Marines handled tarantulas and observed poisonous cobras and vipers.

Survival skills

A US Navy special operations independent duty corpsman attempts to make a fire from bamboo

A US Navy special operations independent duty corpsman attempts to make a fire from bamboo during a jungle survival demonstration at Exercise Cobra Gold in Sattahip, Chonburi province, Thailand.US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Patrick Katz

Royal Thai Marine instructors taught the Marines skills like starting a fire with bamboo and how to find alternative food and water sources while out in the field.

More than just a military exercise

A US Marine holds a snake in his hands

A US Marine holds a snake in his hands during a jungle survival demonstration at Exercise Cobra Gold in Sattahip, Chonburi province, Thailand.US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Patrick Katz

The training consists of command and control exercises, humanitarian civic assistance projects, and field training events, including the Marine survival training.

But Brunson said the purpose of Cobra Gold goes beyond the technical skills acquired by participating military personnel.

“Cobra Gold is not just a military exercise,” Brunson said. “It is a decades-long example of the enduring partnerships that bind our nations together. As we train and learn from each other, we symbolize the strength that comes from unity, shared goals, and the commitment to regional stability.”

Cobra blood controversy

A Royal Thai Marine instructor shows the fangs of a venomous, White-Lipped Pit Viper

A Royal Thai Marine instructor shows the fangs of a venomous, White-Lipped Pit Viper at a jungle survival demonstration during Exercise Cobra Gold in Sattahip, Chonburi province, Thailand.US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Patrick Katz

Though Cobra Gold made history through its run-time and participation, the training event is infamously known for its garish traditions in which Marines drank blood from beheaded cobras and ate small insects and reptiles.

Former Marine Corps Sgt. Isaac Ibarra, then a corporal, attended the Cobra Gold survival training in 2015. He detailed his experience in an essay, witnessing his fellow Marines eating spiders and scorpions “as if it was an everyday snack.”

Ibarra described a Royal Thai Marine handling a cobra while another US Marine used a machete to chop off the snake’s head.

“The anticipation was palpable. Quickly, the US Marines congregated and knelt as the Royal Thai Marine raised the headless snake,” he wrote. “I knew this was a tradition for all Cobra Gold exercises, so I put my camera aside, knelt down, and waited my turn.”

“The cobra’s blood spilled over me,” Ibarra continued. “It was thick but tasteless.”

While the practice yielded some insane photos, the methods were taught as a way for Marines to obtain sustenance from the land, using scorpions, bugs, and geckos as a food source and cobra blood for hydration.

‘Frat party gone wrong’

A spider walks across the face of a US Marine

A spider walks across the face of a US Marine during a jungle survival demonstration at Exercise Cobra Gold in Sattahip, Chonburi province, Thailand.US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Patrick Katz

The alternative food and water sourcing method was met with controversy in 2020 after animal rights activists slammed the practice, calling it a “frat-party-gone-wrong spectacle.”

“Animal-free survival training in the jungle is something that Boy or Girl Scouts could figure out without reducing themselves to being participants in a cruel, carnival-like, toxic-masculinity sideshow,” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said in a statement at the time.

Alternative water sources

A Royal Thai Marine instructor squeezes water out of a plant into the mouth of a Marine

A Royal Thai Marine instructor squeezes water out of a plant during a jungle survival demonstration at Exercise Cobra Gold in Sattahip, Chonburi province, Thailand.US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Patrick Katz

PETA urged the Marines to seek vegan survival options and to put an end to the practice, which officially came to an end in the 2021 iteration of the training and following events.

This year, Marines were seen drinking liquids from banana leaves and other plants to get sustenance.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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