Thai and U.S. militaries kick off Cobra Gold exercises

Thailand and the U.S. firmed up their longstanding alliance last week with the launch of the 2020 iteration of the Cobra Gold military exercises, which the two nations are co-hosting in Thailand, and that includes troops from 29 countries.

While security is the focus of Cobra Gold, some security threats have nothing to do with military strategy or weapons systems. Epidemics also pose a danger. The hosts required all personnel to strictly follow measures to ensure they neither have nor can spread the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

The U.S. initiated Cobra Gold in 1982 as an annual bilateral military exercise with Thailand, its oldest treaty ally in Asia. Since then, it has steadily expanded into a multilateral training. Stars and Stripes, the U.S. army publication, calls it one of the world’s largest and longest-running military exercises.

Cobra Gold has also broadened its scope. Whereas in the early days, the training focused mainly on battlefield tactics and strategy, in recent years, soldiers are being instructed and drilled in endeavors that include humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

Representatives of all participating countries assembled for the opening ceremony at the Akathotsarot military camp in Phitsanulok province. A total of 9,630 soldiers from the 29 countries will be taking part in the exercises that run from February 24 through March 6.

Seven countries are taking part in the main drills: Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and the U.S., China, and India are involved in the humanitarian civic assistance exercises.

Troops from ten other countries are participating in the Multinational Planning Augmentation Team: Australia, Bangladesh, Britain, Canada, Fiji, France, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, and the Philippines. And ten countries are included the Combined Observer Liaison Team: Brunei, Cambodia, Germany, Israel, Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sweden, Switzerland, and Vietnam.

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