U.S. Pacific Commander will attend Cobra Gold

In a sign of strengthening relations between the United States and Thailand, Admiral Harry Harris, the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, will attend this year’s Cobra Gold joint military exercises in Thailand, making him the highest-ranking officer to participate in the event since 2014, the U.S. embassy in Bangkok said last week.

Cobra Gold is the largest annual joint training conducted by the United States military in the Asia-Pacific region and has been co-hosted by Thailand since 1982. Thailand is the oldest treaty ally of the United States in Asia, with relations dating back to 1833. Cobra Gold has grown into a multilateral training involving about a dozen countries and is among the largest multilateral exercises in the world involving the U.S. military.

“It is a good signal for an officer of Admiral Harris’ rank to attend these sorts of events,” said Thanchaiyan Srisuwan, the supreme commander of Thailand’s armed forces. “As it is also good for Thai-American relations and shows that the U.S. has given importance to this region and this exercise.”

The 36th Cobra Gold will take place on February 14 to 24, and will be attended by 8,333 personnel from 29 countries, some of them as observers. The United States will send 3,500 troops and other personnel. The drills take place across several Thai provinces to take advantage of different types of terrain, from jungles to coastlines. The opening ceremony will be held in Chonburi province and the closing ceremony in Nakhorn Ratchasima.

Cobra Gold 2017 will focus on three major events: a staff exercise which includes a senior leaders seminar, humanitarian civic assistance projects in Thai communities, and a field training exercise that includes a variety of training events to strengthen regional relationships and enhance interoperability.

Photo courtesy of www.marforpac.marines.mil