The U.S. Marine Corps is known for its grueling training, impressive warfighting capabilities... and drinking cobra blood.
A group of Marines recently participating in a military exercise in Thailand got a chance to try the local snake fare during a jungle survival training class taught by local Thai marines. Remarkable pictures show several Marines opening wide for a drink of the blood.
The strange activity has become something of a tradition during what is known as Cobra Gold, an annual, multinational wargame in the Asia-Pacific. But while it may be a unique experience, it also has a more practical purpose. With limited options for sustenance in the jungle, blood could be a nutritious option in the worst case scenario.
The Marines were also served other jungle cuisine, like bugs, tarantulas, scorpions, and gekkos. Thai instructors also taught them what vegetables and plants are safe to eat, and how to get water from a vine if you're caught in a pinch.
"Interacting with the Thai Marines is always a good time," said Lance Cpl. John Arpino while being interviewed during last year's survival class. "Just seeing how they've adapted to their environment and can teach that to us, and just being able to teach one another. I mean it's just a great chance to work with other Marines."
Cobra Gold is now in its 37th iteration, and is one of the largest military exercises in the Asia-Pacific region. It comes at a time when tensions with North Korea are high, as it continues to pursue nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. The saber-rattling and aggressive actions took a temporary pause during the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, but the Kim regime recently issued a warning to U.S. and South Korea to not resume their paused military exercises.
China is also looming in the background, as it continues to expand its influence across the region, much to the concern of some key U.S. allies. Cobra Gold's beach landing and combat drills simulate what could happen if a conflict broke out in the Asia-Pacific region, allowing the Marines to be prepared should the worst case scenario occur.