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Military

Cobra Gold officially begins

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 2005515195336
Story by Lance Cpl. Cathryn D. Lindsay

CHIANG MAI, Thailand (May 6, 2005) -- More than 500 military and civilian personnel from the United States, Thailand, Singapore, Japan and several other countries attended the opening ceremony for exercise Cobra Gold 2005 at the Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel here May 2, marking the official start of the 25th annual exercise.

Cobra Gold is a combined, joint, multilateral training exercise held in Thailand and is designed to improve multinational interoperability and strengthen national relationships.

The exercise will be held in various locations throughout Thailand May 2-13 and will have more than 6,400 military servicemembers from more than 13 countries around the world participating.

“Cobra Gold, which has now transformed to a multilateral exercise, has had a long and continuous evolution that makes it a premiere exercise, not only for the United States and the Royal Thai Armed Forces, but also for the region,” said Gen. Chaisit Shinawatra, the supreme commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces. “This year’s exercise will demonstrate to the media, as well as civilians and leaders from various nations, the true picture of military cooperation conducted in a most creative manner, designed to enhance the capability to cooperate in humanitarian assistance operations in a time of suffering and tremendous loss of life.”

The focus of this year’s exercise will be capturing lessons learned from the humanitarian assistance/disaster relief response to the Dec. 26, 2004, earthquake and resulting tsunami that devastated nations surrounding the Indian Ocean. A daily, executive level, disaster relief workshop also began May 2, allowing leaders to discuss ways to improve response time to natural disasters and ways of detecting tsunamis and earthquakes.

“We will have a historic opportunity to record some of the lessons that we’ve recently learned (from the tsunami),” said Ralph L. Boyce, the U.S. ambassador to Thailand. “I hope we will candidly share our experiences and look for ways to improve our ability to respond to the next disaster. By committing ourselves to making this year’s Cobra Gold a success, we can save lives.”

Humanitarian and civil assistance projects have been ongoing for more than a month and will continue during the exercise. Participating forces will complete six humanitarian engineering construction projects where servicemembers will rebuild structures, such as school and bridges. They will also complete 11 medical civil action projects, providing basic medical and dental care to rural Thai villages.

“(Medical civil action projects are) a winning combination,” said Cmdr. Patricia A. Steiner, the officer in charge of exercise’s medical civil action projects. “It offers our medical professionals a valuable training environment while bringing much needed medical care to the people of selected host villages.”

Other events during Cobra Gold ‘05 will include mass causality drills, noncombatant evacuation training, and various other combined military training and live-fire exercises and humanitarian assistance projects.

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