Cobra Gold drills begin in Rayong

Cobra Gold drills begin in Rayong

Cobra Gold 2023, the largest international military exercise in mainland Asia, officially kicked off yesterday in Rayong and will run until March 10.

Presiding over the opening ceremony at the Royal Thai Naval Airbase at U-Tapao airport were Chief of the Defence Forces General Chalermpol Srisawasdi and US Ambassador to Thailand Robert Godec.

Also in attendance were ambassadors from Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

The military exercise is co-hosted annually in Thailand by the Royal Thai Armed Forces (RTARF) and the US Indo-Pacific Command. In total, there are 30 participating countries comprising 7,394 personnel with more than 6,000 US military personnel, Mr Godec said.

The military drill, which began on Monday, aims to boost military ties between participating nations, enhance combined international efforts in responding to a crisis, and improve multinational standard operating procedures.

"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," Mr Godec said at the opening ceremony.

Thai army chief-of-staff Gen Thitichai Tianthong said this year's exercise marked a return to normalcy after the exercises were scaled down in recent years due to Covid-19. However, the RTARF continues to operate in line with the Ministry of Public Health's Covid-19 prevention measures.

He said this year saw space included in the joint combined operational staff planning exercise. It will foster an understanding of the impact of aerial phenomena, such as solar storms, on military operations, communication systems and satellites. The drill also includes humanitarian civic assistance projects in Thai communities.

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