The 40th iteration of Exercise Cobra Gold, co-sponsored by Thailand and the United States, took place from August 3 to 13, 2021 and encompassed several virtual and in-person events throughout Thailand. As one of the world’s longest running international exercises, Cobra Gold supports a free and open Indo-Pacific and ensures effective responses to regional crises.
This year’s exercise underscored the importance of working together to solve complex challenges that no single country can address alone. Effective planning to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 allowed service members from seven full participating nations (the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, and Singapore) and other observer nations to collaborate on joint military training and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. Service members abided by all Royal Thai Government COVID mitigation requirements, including a mandatory 15-day quarantine, COVID testing, temperature checks, and face coverings.
U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Michael Heath noted that “Our ability to execute Cobra Gold – and its robust slate of exercises — in a safe manner that mitigated COVID-19 risks to participating nations and the Thai public is a testament to the strength of our security and health partnerships.”
Cobra Gold 21 deputy multinational force commander and senior U.S. military representative on the ground U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Patrick Ellis reaffirmed the value of our regional partnerships, stating, “During the past 40 years, Cobra Gold has served as a cornerstone of the Thai-U.S. alliance. We appreciate this opportunity to once again join with friends, partners, and allies here to carry out this long-standing multinational exercise, to learn from one another, and to further strengthen our bonds as military professionals.”
This year, Thai and U.S. military engineers worked together to construct a new multipurpose facility at Baan Mai Thai Pattan School in Sa Kaeo Province, which will enable the school to welcome a growing number of students. The project was part of Cobra Gold’s Engineering Civic Action Program, which utilizes the capabilities of both the U.S. and Royal Thai Armed Forces to support local communities.
The fourth annual Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Tabletop Exercise moved to a virtual format for the first time ever. The exercise presented an opportunity for the 54 participants from nine nations to pioneer virtual training, better equipping them to be able to respond to disasters when in-person coordination is not possible. Discussions focused on civil-military efforts associated with disaster response and featured experts from the U.S. and Royal Thai Government, as well as international organizations such as the U.N., ASEAN and Red Cross and Red Crescent.
In Surin Province, Royal Thai and U.S. Armed Forces conducted a landmine disposal exercise and unexploded ordnance destruction, eliminating more than 11,000 unexploded ordnance and helping protect civilians from remnants of war. The exercise also included medical trauma response training.
Field training exercises allowed Thai and American troops from the Army, Marines and Special Operations to strengthen bonds, learn from one another, build interoperability and hone their tactical skills. Together they practiced small-unit maneuvers, trained on defensive obstacles and first aid, ran live-fire weapons ranges, and shared expertise on military equipment.
Multinational teams gained experience in a command and control exercise – working together to plan and manage complex military operations as the headquarters for a simulated combined joint task force. Additionally, for the third year in a row, Cobra Gold featured a cyberspace field training exercise, with participating nations joining forces to share best practices for defending networks and operating in a modern information environment.
“Cobra Gold is not just an exercise, but it is a stage for building confidence and strengthening relationships among participating nations in order to maintain security and stability in the region,” said Gen. Suphot Malaniyom, Royal Thai Armed Forces Chief of Joint Staff.
For more information, photos, and stories about Cobra Gold, including past iterations, visit the Cobra Gold webpage at www.dvidshub.net/feature/CobraGold or follow @ExerciseCG (Twitter) or @ExerciseCobraGold (YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram).