Cobra Gold lite kicks off in Thailand

Cobra Gold lite kicks off in Thailand

The annual Cobra Gold military exercise kicked off yesterday featuring 3,460 soldiers from the kingdom and abroad.

Gen Chalermpol Srisawat, chief of Thailand's defence forces, and US charge d'affaires Michael Heath conducted the joint launch via teleconference.

The 41st iteration of Exercise Cobra Gold, co-sponsored by Thailand and the United States, will run until March 4. It is the largest multinational military exercise in Southeast Asia aimed at strengthening relations between countries and exchanging military knowledge, said Gen Chalermpol.

The drills have set in the areas of the first, second and third army regions and the upper Gulf of Thailand. They comprise the Command Post Exercise (CPX), Humanitarian/Civic Assistance (HCA), Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Table Top Exercise (HADR-TTX) and Field Training Exercise (FTX).

Under preventive measures against Covid-19, the number of troops this year has been reduced from 8,964 to 3,460 -- made up of 1,953 Thais, 1,296 Americans, 50 Singaporeans, 41 South Koreans, 36 Malaysians, 35 Japanese, 18 Australians, 16 Indonesians, 10 Chinese and five Indians.

Some 20 countries are taking part in the joint military exercise. The fully participating nations are Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the United States.

India, China and Australia have limited participation, in humanitarian aid exercises.

Meanwhile, contingents from Bangladesh, Canada, France, Britain, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, the Philippines, Fiji and Vietnam will participate in the Multinational Planning Augmentation Team project.

There will be no amphibious landing, civilian evacuation or live-fire exercises. Also, the number of troops participating in each drill will be capped at 500 in compliance with the Public Health Ministry's Covid-19 prevention measures.

All participants must be double vaccinated.

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