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Iwakuni Marines training in Thailand for Cobra Gold could do their banking online or chat through e-mail with friends back home.

If they got bored during the weeks of training, they could take a sightseeing trip or head off to the gym for some weight training.

Hungry? There were snacks waiting at the exchange.

Many services follow Marines into the field. But servicemembers based in Okinawa and Iwakuni are especially well taken care of when they deploy, according to the Marine Corps.

Marine Corps Community Service divisions at those bases are leading the Corps worldwide in providing for Marines, according to Bob Johnston, the Semper Fit program director for Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni.

In a garrison, picking up a newspaper on the way to work or getting a slice of pizza can be taken for granted, but in the field those same services become important to maintaining servicemembers’ quality of life, according to MCCS Iwakuni Director Steve Howard.

Now, those MCCS services follow Marines wherever they go, including Australia and South Korea, Johnston said.

Preparation begins months in advance and is included in exercise planning conferences. Agreements are hammered out with contractors to supply services such as Internet in remote areas.

Once the exercise is under way, MCCS workers deploy with crates of merchandise and equipment and begin setting up where they can find space, Johnston said.

Tents are used if no hard buildings are available.

For Cobra Gold, a multinational exercise conducted each May in Thailand, MCCS set up mobile exchanges at the Chai-Badan range, Samesan camp and Ban Chan Khlem, Johnston said.

Gyms were set up, too.

Meanwhile, Marines were taken on tours of Thai waterfalls and ruins.

The services are constantly being tweaked and improved, according to MCCS.

Next year, Marines in Cobra Gold will have 42-inch TVs to play Xbox video games and more computers, Johnston said.

The services are not taken for granted, he said.

"It’s a quality of life issue, the Marines go over and they are working hard; some are in some remote areas," Johnston said. "A lot of people come up and thank us."


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