Pacific partners come together for Cobra Gold 2007
By Cpl. Mark Fayloga
| | May 08, 2007
JOMTIEN, Thailand --
Exercise Cobra Gold 2007 officially kicked off today at an opening ceremony in the Ambassador City Reception Room attended by dignitaries from each of the pacific partners involved.
Cobra Gold is an annual multilateral exercise U.S. and Thai armed forces have participated in for 26 years. Started as a bilateral exercise in 1982, Cobra Gold has expanded to include several U.S. and Thai partners in the Pacific region, including Singapore, Japan and Indonesia
More than a dozen additional countries, including ten that are part of a Multinational Planning Augmentation Team, are observing Cobra Gold.
Exercise planners have expanded their focus on peace operations this year. In addition to improving multi-national interoperability and demonstrating the United States’ ability to deploy a joint task force rapidly to conduct joint, combined operations, participants will also focus on conducting transition planning with a United Nations force.
Australia, Brunei, South Korea, Italy, the United Kingdom, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Mongolia are all participating MPAT countries. France, Germany, South Korea, the Philippines, and China will also be a part of the exercise as observing nations.
“These personnel broaden the Cobra Gold training experience by providing different perspectives on CTF operations,” said Col. John O’Hey, assistant chief of staff, Cobra Gold training and operations. “The observer program allows non-exercise participants an opportunity to see what this valuable training exercise has to offer and how it contributes to regional security.”
Alexander A. Arvizu, deputy chief of mission, U.S. Embassy, Thailand spoke about how the exercise has evolved over the years to accommodate the ever-changing missions in the Pacific region.
“Cobra Gold has evolved from being a strictly bilateral joint exercise to a truly multilateral event designed to enhance our ability to respond to peace enforcement and peacekeeping responsibilities under the United Nations.”
A UN planning cell comprised of personnel from Thailand, Singapore, Japan and Indonesia is a key training audience involved in the exercise.
“The UN planning cell adds a whole new dimension to Cobra Gold by providing a training partner that has its own dynamics, mission and operating procedures,” said Capt. Tipnant Dorne, Royal Thai military deputy chief of planning for the exercise.
Cobra Gold is the U.S.’s largest multilateral exercise in the region and offers the more than 20 participating countries critical training opportunities to improve interoperability and capability in conducting multinational operations.
While the MPAT and UN planning cell contribute to the overall training during Cobra Gold, there are three major parts to the exercise: A peace support operations-based staff exercise involving a Thai led UN authorized multinational combined task force, a series of humanitarian civic action projects, and several field training exercises involving U.S. and Thai forces.
“For over a quarter century, Cobra Gold has been the most visible symbol of United States and Thai military cooperation,” Arvizu said. “Cobra Gold makes the militaries of each of our countries better able to operate.”
The importance of the training received during Cobra Gold was evident a few years ago when many of the exercise’s participating countries joined together for real world operations.
“In November 2004, at the final CG planning conference; Thai, American, Japanese and Singaporean officers worked closely together in developing an understanding of each others capabilities,” said Arvizu. “Two months later after the Indian ocean tsunami spread devastation throughout Southeast Asia, scores of these same officers were working together to save lives. Their ability to work together was due in no small part to their having fostered relationships and developed skills under Cobra Gold.”
More stories, photos and videos are availible at www.apan-info.net/cobragold.