Cobra Gold, the United States’ longest-standing military exercise in the Pacific, kicks off this weekend, bringing together more than 10,000 members of the U.S. and six other militaries to focus on interoperability and multinational coordination and training.
Almost 7,000 U.S. service members, most of them Marines from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, will participate in Cobra Gold 2012, which kicks off Jan. 15 and continues through Feb. 17, Marine Corps Maj. Christian Devine, a U.S. Pacific Command spokesman, reported.
This year’s exercise is the 31st iteration of the annual exercise hosted by Thailand and the United States since 1980.
In addition to about 3,400 Thai service members, members of the Indonesian, Japanese, Malaysian, Singaporean and South Korean militaries will participate, Devine said. Other regional states have been invited to send observers as well.
This year’s Cobra Gold will include a computer-simulated command-post exercise, training scenarios depicting multinational simulated U.N. peace enforcement operations, humanitarian and civic assistance projects and a field training exercise, Devine said.
The command post exercise will combine members of each participating country’s militaries working together in a multinational force headquarters, he reported.
Meanwhile, forces from Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia and the United States will conduct field training exercises that include combined arms and multinational events.
In addition, Thailand, the United States, Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia and Japan will participate in humanitarian and civic assistance projects designed to improve the quality of life and local infrastructure for the Thai people, Devine said.
Some of the projects, he said, will contribute to ongoing flood recovery efforts the United States has been supporting in Thailand since October.
Experience gained during the exercise helps ensure participants are able to work together to respond to crises across the range of military operations, Devine said.
On a broader level, Cobra Gold and other exercises promote cooperative security frameworks that are vital to maintaining regional peace and security, he said, and to successfully addressing shared threats and challenges.
U.S. participation in Cobra Gold 12 also supports the United States’ and Pacom’s commitment to Thailand, its oldest ally in the region, and to regional partnership, prosperity and security in the Asia-Pacific region, he said.
President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reinforced this commitment in the new defense strategic guidance issued last week. The guidance underscores the growing strategic importance of Asia and the Pacific.