Pacific Commander says U.S alliance with Thailand is a deep and enduring commitment

The head of the United States Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris reaffirmed a deep and enduring commitment of the United States to the alliance with Thailand during his speech at the opening ceremony for Cobra Gold, the multilateral military training exercises co-hosted by Thailand and the United States.

The Cobra Gold exercise is  the largest exercise in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Nearly 30 countries are participating in this year’s exercise, sending more than 8,300 troops and other personnel, of which more than 3,600 will be from the U.S. The 10-day exercises run through February 24. Nations such as Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea are in attendance.

Speaking at Sattahip, the main base for the Royal Thai Navy, during the kick-off of the exercises, which are now in their 36th year, Admiral Harris said the trainings would strengthen regional partnerships and improve readiness, responsiveness and interoperability among participating nations. He emphasized the crucial role that Thailand has played in ensuring regional security and stability, and that the United States need Thailand’s leadership in Asia.

“Our alliance is a big deal. The United States has only 5 bilateral defense treaty allies in the world, and Thailand is one of them. Nations don’t enter into security treaty alliances lightly – it means we’re in it together, for the long haul,” said Admiral Harris whose area of operations covers about half of the earth’s surface.

Thailand is the U.S.’s oldest treaty ally in Asia, with relations dating back to 1833. Thai and U.S. troops have fought shoulder to shoulder in several conflicts such as the wars in Korea and Viet Nam, and stood together in U.N. peacekeeping missions.

During his visit, Admiral Harris met with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan to discuss the full range of the broad and deep U.S.-Thai security relations, regional issues, and recent developments in Thailand, according to the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok.