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By PO3 Marc Castenada
| USPACOM | February 14, 2017
Multi-National Forces from 29 nations were in attendance during the official opening ceremony of the largest Theater Security Cooperation exercise in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, Cobra Gold 2017, held at Sattahip, Thailand on February 14th.
U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) Commander Adm. Harry B. Harris, alongside the Thai Chief of Defence Forces Gen. Surapong Suwana-adth and U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand Glyn Davies, also participated in the ceremony. The admiral and the ambassador emphasized the importance of Cobra Gold and the partnership with the Kingdom of Thailand in their personal remarks.
“The enduring alliance between Thailand and the United States remains strong, as indicated by all of us being here today to kick off Cobra Gold,” said Harris.
Adm. Harris’s presence at the ceremony showcased the strength of the long-standing alliance between the U.S. and the Kingdom of Thailand. The USPACOM commander also paid his respects while commending the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed away October 13, 2016, for his efforts toward the safety and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
“I’d like to offer my sincere condolences and sympathy to the royal family and the people of the Kingdom of Thailand,” said Harris. “His majesty’s personal efforts promoted peace and security, both within Thailand and throughout the region. His majesty will be forever remembered as one of the world’s great leaders.”
In the earlier years, one of Cobra Gold’s major focuses was on tactical training and live-fire components. The last two years, however, the focus has shifted: diminishing the live-fire components and increasing emphasis on non-lethal activities and civic action programs such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
“I had the honor to take part in the exercise last year and I learned then how truly indispensable it [Cobra Gold] is,” said Ambassador Glyn Davies. “With nearly 30 nations participating, Cobra Gold brings together countries from every corner of the region and beyond to strengthen the joint cooperation and collaboration.”
Cobra Gold 17 aims to improve the capabilities of participating nations to plan and conduct combined, joint operations; build relationships among participating nations across the region; and improve interoperability over a range of activities, including enhancing maritime security, preventing and mitigating emerging disease threats, and responding to large-scale natural disasters.
“Our alliance is a big deal,” Harris continued. “The United States has only five bilateral defense treaty allies in the world and Thailand is one of them. Nations do not enter security treaty alliances lightly. It means that we are in it together for the long haul. The U.S. alliance with Thailand is a deep and enduring commitment.”