Cobra Gold is a joint theater security cooperation (JTSC) exercise co-sponsored by Thailand and United States and conducted annually in the Kingdom of Thailand. Cobra Gold is one of the largest theater security cooperation exercises in the Indo-Pacific region and an integral part of the U.S. commitment to strengthen engagement in the region. Cobra Gold is an important element of the United States and participating nation's regional military to military engagement efforts seeking to maintain readiness, develop capabilities, and enhance security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
"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."
Cobra Gold 18 is an annual exercise conducted in the Kingdom of Thailand and runs from Feb. 13-23 with up to 29 nations participating. CG18 is the 37th iteration of the Cobra Gold series of exercises. The Royal Thai Armed Forces, United States Armed Forces, and other regional partner nations held a pillar raising ceremony in two separate locations in the Kingdom of Thailand to signal the beginning of engineering civic assistance projects for Cobra Gold 2018, Jan. 24.
The United States scaled back attendance at Cobra Gold, Asia's largest multilateral military exercise, after the 2014 coup in Thailand. But relations between the junta and the United States improved under President Donald Trump. In 2018, the presence of the 6,800 U.S. personnel - nearly double the 2017 number - was a demonstration of America's continuing muscle in a region where China is growing ever more powerful.
Army units from 2-25 Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade will conduct joint and combined live fire exercises with the Royal Thai Army, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force. Additionally the 2-25 IBCT will engage with their Royal Thai Army counterparts in Urban Operations, Jungle Survival, Counter Improvised Explosive Device techniques, and first aid.
One of the Indo-Pacific's largest multinational military drills has gotten underway in Thailand. The annual Cobra Gold exercise has brought together the military forces of Asian countries and the United States. The opening ceremony was held in northern Thailand on 12 February 2019. About 10,000 personnel from 29 countries are taking part. The acting head of the US diplomatic mission in Thailand Peter Haymond said; "Cobra Gold is a crown jewel of enduring US-Thai alliance and a pillar of America's unwavering commitment to a free and an open Indo-Pacific."
The drill included US-South Korea joint exercises using landing ships and amphibious vehicles. Japan's Self-Defense Forces will also practice evacuating people stranded in a conflict zone. The drill will continue until February 22nd. The US hoped to boost military cooperation with Asian nations through the drill, as China also started joint maritime exercises with ASEAN countries last year. In addition to Thailand and the US, seven other nations actively participated: Singapore, Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea. About 4,500 US personnel, on land and sea, were taking part.
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