One of the Asia-Pacific region's largest multinational military exercises, Cobra Gold, kicked off Tuesday in Thailand in full scale after being scaled down in the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 42nd annual drill, co-hosted by Thailand and the United States, is being held through May 10 with around 10,000 personnel from 30 countries participating under the aim of enhancing regional interoperability. It includes for the first time a space exercise, which covers response to potential attacks on satellites.
Aside from the co-hosts, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia are full participants, while China, India and Australia are involved in a limited scope.
The United States is sending about 6,000 personnel this year, while Japan is sending about 150 personnel.
At an opening ceremony at Utapao Navy Camp Base in the eastern province of Rayong, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Robert Godec said the exercise has expanded over the years as its participants have recognized new opportunities for cooperation across a broad range of shared security challenges.
"Our response to human conflicts and natural disasters and emergencies includes many same core tasks, communicating and planning, moving personnel and equipment, and coordinating logistics. Practicing these tasks annually is critical to ensuring a timely and effective response," the ambassador said.
This year's exercises included tabletop exercises, field training, and exercises on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as training in the cyber and space domains.
The space exercise is aimed at fostering understanding of the impacts of aerial phenomena such as solar storms on military operations, communication systems and satellites.
The Cobra Gold exercises have been held since 1982.