The annual Cobra Gold naval exercise is underway again in Thailand with China participating for the first time.
Royal Thai Navy Deputy Commander-in-Chief Adm. Narong Phipatanasai opened the amphibious-assault training exercises on the Hat Yao training field in Samae San Feb. 14. Joining co-hosts Thailand and the United States this year are Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and, for the first time, the People’s Republic of China.
Cobra Gold is the largest training exercise in Southeast Asia and is being held for the 33rd time. In addition to marine and ground-based exercises staged throughout the kingdom, Cobra Gold also includes humanitarian events such as construction projects and medical projects to strengthen relationships between partner nations.
Amphibious forces head for the beaches in Sattahip.
The war games hope to develop the capabilities of multinational strategies against forces in low-level conflict crisis, national defense and application of forces in various situations, such as fights against unrest and terrorism, evacuations, disaster relief, and United Nations operations.
Rear Adm. Thanin Likhitwong, commander of the Thai Amphibious Fleet, is directing Cobra Gold this year. The Feb. 14-16 drill consisted of amphibious strategies, evacuation from disaster areas and training with live ammunition.
Thai ships participating in the exercise are the HTMS Angthong, Seechang, and Matpon; minesweepers, naval special operations forces; a package-destruction unit; four aircraft; medical units; and nuclear, biological and chemical-war units.
The US complement consists of the USS Denver, 10 amphibious-assault vehicles, U.S. Marines, one aircraft, two landing platform docks, and five explosive-ordnance units. South Korea sent a landing platform dock and one battalion of marines and a SEAL team.