"Cooperative engagement" is the USCINCPAC strategy designed to deter aggression, promote peace, encourage prosperity and democratic ideals, and -- if necessary-- allow the US to fight and win if a conflict cannot be avoided. Specifically, the strategy is a process of aggressively employing the means available to USPACOM (forces, assets, funds, and programs) in three principal ways: forward presence, strong alliances and friendships, and a visible demonstrated capacity for crisis response. The goal is to achieve engagement and participation in peace, deterrence and cooperation in crisis, and a swift and decisive victory in conflict, through multilateral alliances if possible.
Thailand is one of five countries in the Pacific region with which the US has a functioning security alliance. The other four countries are Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, and the Republic of the Philippines. Thailand and the US have an extensive bilateral military exercise program.
Cobra Gold is a regularly-scheduled joint/combined exercise and is the latest in the continuing series of U.S. - Thai military exercises designed to ensure regional peace and strengthen the ability of the Royal Thai Armed Forces to defend Thailand or respond to regional contingencies. Cobra Gold is one of several training exercises the US conducts with Thailand each year. The US funds Thai military and civilian professional development training under the international military education and training program (IMET). Thailand is a generous host to US Navy ships that make frequent port calls at Pattaya and Phuket.
Cobra Gold is a six-week exercise during April and May, the hottest time of the year in Thailand where daytime temperatures linger between 103 and 107 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cobra Gold 2015 exercise set for February 2015 would be "refocused and scaled down." The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok said "in light of the current political situation, the U.S. government has increased its focus on non-lethal activities, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief." Thai officials have recently denied that the war games would be affected by the May coup, the military's 12th takeover in 80 years, which caused a minor rift in U.S.-Thai relations.
The war games, which have been held every year since 1982, bring together more than 13,000 U.S. and Thai troops and other participants from countries in the region. The U.S. embassy spokesperson said that as the "premier multilateral exercise in the Asia-Pacific, Cobra Gold is important to our regional engagementů and to promoting international security cooperation and stability in the region."
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