U.S. sends largest contingent in a decade to Cobra Gold
In a clear signal of strengthening ties, the U.S. has sent over 6,000 troops to Thailand, the most in a decade, to participate in Cobra Gold, America’s largest multilateral military exercises, co-hosted annually with the Kingdom.
Personnel from 30 nations are attending the 42nd iteration of Cobra Gold, which began on February 27 and will conclude on March 10. Thailand is the oldest treaty partner of the U.S. in Asia, and the two countries have had strong military and defense cooperation for over half a century.
Military officials from both countries said that the agenda this year consists of full-scale air, land and sea drills as opposed to the mainly disaster preparedness and response and humanitarian exercises that marked Cobra Gold in recent years. Those were also limited in scope and participation by the pandemic.
“Cobra Gold helps build interoperability, advances our common interests, and serves as a demonstration of our dedication to our allies and partners in ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” said Robert Godec, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand.
Full military exercises will be held in Lop Buri, Chanthaburi, Sa Kaeo and Rayong provinces.
The first Cobra Gold took place in 1982, making it Southeast Asia’s longest-running annual military exercise. Cobra Gold has provided opportunities for the U.S., Thailand and a rotating cast of participating countries to learn from each other in joint battlefield maneuvers and tactics, and also train in new technology and equipment.
“Through Cobra Gold, we demonstrate our resolve to respond together to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific so that all nations can maintain peace, stability and prosperity,” said Admiral John Aquilino, Commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, during the opening ceremony.
The main exercise involves troops from Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Republic of Korea, while Australia, China and India will only participate in the Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise. Ten other countries – Bangladesh, Brunei, Canada, Fiji, France, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, the Philippines and the United Kingdom – will participate in workshops for multinational operational planning. Another 10 observers include Brazil, Cambodia, Germany, Greece, Kuwait, Lao PDR, Pakistan, Sweden, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
Photo courtesy of https://www.cpf.navy.mil/Newsroom/News/Article/3314255/us-indo-pacific-commander-travels-to-thailand-attends-opening-of-cobra-gold-exe/