United States Embassy and Consulate in Thailand
The 40th iteration of exercise Cobra Gold, co-sponsored by Thailand and the United States, took place August 3-13, 2021, and encompassed virtual and in-person events throughout Thailand. As one of the world’s longest-running international military exercises, Cobra Gold supports a Free and Open Indo-Pacific and ensures effective responses to regional crises.
The 2021 exercise underscored the importance of working together to solve complex challenges. Service members from seven participating nations — Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and the U.S. — and other observer nations collaborated on military training and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Patrick Ellis, the Cobra Gold 21 deputy multinational force commander, reaffirmed the value of regional partnerships.
“During the past 40 years, Cobra Gold has served as a cornerstone of the Thai-U.S. alliance,” he said. “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.”
Thai and U.S. military engineers helped build a multipurpose facility at Baan Mai Thai Pattan School in Sa Kaeo Province, which will allow the school to serve more students. The project was part of Cobra Gold’s Engineering Civic Action Program, which uses the capabilities of the Royal Thai and U.S. 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. The 54 participants from nine nations pioneered virtual training, better equipping them 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 governments of Thailand and the U.S., as well as organizations such as the United Nations, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Red Cross and the Red Crescent.
In Surin Province, Royal Thai and U.S. armed forces conducted a land mine 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 U.S. troops from the Army, Marines and Special Operations to strengthen bonds, learn from each other, build interoperability and hone 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. (Pictured: Royal Thai Army and United States Army Soldiers clear a room during close quarters combat training as part of Cobra Gold 21 in Krabi, Thailand, in August 2021.)
In a command-and-control exercise, multinational teams planned and managed complex military operations as the headquarters for a simulated 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.
IMAGE CREDIT: STAFF SGT. DAVID STATEN/U.S. MARINE CORPS