The opening ceremony for the 42nd iteration of Exercise Cobra Gold took place in the Rayong province of Thailand.
The exercise is co-sponsored by the Kingdom of Thailand the US, and also features full participation from the Republic of Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Republic of Singapore, Japan and Malaysia, as well as other limited participants and observers from more than 20 other nations.
This year’s iteration features multinational participation in a command and control planning exercise, humanitarian aid/disaster relief training, a simulated noncombatant evacuation operation, humanitarian civic action projects and field training exercises with a range of realistic training events.
“Cobra Gold 23 strengthens our ability to plan and conduct combined, joint, high-end security and peacekeeping operations across all domains,” said Adm. Chris Aquilino, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. “Through Cobra Gold, we demonstrate our resolve to respond together to future challenges, preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific where all nations can prosper.”
Cobra Gold emphasies coordination on readiness, civic action, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and is seeking to expand regional cooperation and collaboration in these areas.
“Getting to know [our partners] now and having an idea of what our neighbors to the left and right can do is invaluable,” said Sgt. Cory Lamoureux, a U.S. Army Soldier with 17th Field Artillery Brigade.
New to the annual exercise this year is the Combined Space Forces Coordination Center, where partner nations come together to integrate space capabilities into crisis response situations and humanitarian assistance.
“The scope of military operations that enhance our regional stability are virtually expanded to handle the full spectrum of threats in all domains, including land, sea, air, cyber and space. Additionally, peacekeeping operations, maritime security, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief are also included,” said Gen. Chalermpol Srisawasdi, Royal Thai Armed Forces Chief of Defense. “All of these help us maintain our regional security and be ready to provide necessary assistance and disaster relief as we have successfully shown in the past.”
Prior to the opening ceremony, participating nations met for the humanitarian assistance/disaster relief tabletop exercise, where they worked to identify and understand key military coordination mechanisms in international support.
Nations worked through an example scenario where a tropical storm had inflicted damage resulting in collapsed buildings, uncontrolled fires, hazardous materials leaks and mass casualty events. This called for search and rescue, emergency medical services, medical evacuation, HAZMAT decontamination and firefighting.
“Of equal significance to the training tasks are the relationships our service members develop with other participants,” concluded Aquilino. “These relationships help facilitate peace and prosperity for generations to come.”