Cobra Gold: US Pledges ‘Unwavering Commitment’ to Alliance with Thais

Nontarat Phaicharoen
Sukhothai, Thailand

Thai medical personnel perform thermal scans on U.S. troops before the start of a cyber warfare exercise at the supreme command headquarters in Bangkok, a day before the official opening of the Cobra Gold 2020 joint military exercises, Feb. 24, 2020. [Facebook page Cobra Gold Thailand]


U.S. and Thai amphibious vehicles land at Had Yao beach in Chanthaburi province as part of a training exercise during the Cobra Gold program, Feb. 28, 2020. [Pimuk Rakkanam/BenarNews]


A U.S. Marine Corps hovercraft approaches Had Yao beach to reinforce troops already involved in the training exercise, Feb. 28, 2020. [Pimuk Rakkanam/BenarNews]


U.S. Marines maintain their position as a CH-53 helicopter departs following an air drop near Had Yao beach, Feb. 28, 2020. [Facebook page Cobra Gold Thailand]


Thai and U.S. bomb squads discuss plans during a landmine disposal exercise in Wattana Nakhon, a district in northeastern Thailand’s Sakaew province, Feb. 29, 2020. [Facebook page Cobra Gold Thailand]


U.S. Marines fire a Javelin anti-tank missile during an exercise with Thai Marines at a range in Chanthaburi province, March 5, 2020. [Navy Combat Camera]


Combat engineers explode a bomb to clear a path for troops to advance during a Cobra Gold exercise at a range in Chanthaburi province, March 5, 2020. [Navy Combat Camera]


(From left to right): Japanese Chief of Staff Gen. Koji Yamazaki, Royal Thai Armed Forces Chief Gen. Pornpipat Benyasri, Thai Army Chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong and U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Michael G. DeSombre line up with troops in Sukhothai province after the closing of Cobra Gold 2020, March 6, 2020. [Nontarat Phaicharoen/BenarNews]

The U.S. ambassador to Thailand praised the two nations’ longtime alliance to maintain military strength in the Indo-Pacific, as the annual 10-day Cobra Gold Exercise closed on Friday.

Thailand and the U.S. co-hosted 27 countries for 39th version of Cobra Gold, which drew nearly 10,000 troops. It combined a mix of combat training and humanitarian missions.

“Our relationship with the Thai military is really incredibly strong. Cobra Gold today demonstrates unwavering commitment to both the U.S.-Thai alliance and also the Indo-Pacific,” American Ambassador Michael G. DeSombre told reporters after the closing ceremony.

“Cobra Gold … will keep us stronger in that regard as we keep bringing more people over here and dedicating more resources,” he said.

DeSombre joined Thai and other officials, including Thai Army Chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong, for the closing ceremony at a tactical firing range in northern Sukhothai province, about 450 km (281 miles) from Bangkok.

The U.S. sent about 5,500 troops to participate in the training exercises.

Before Cobra Gold could even begin, Thai officials had implemented measures to protect troops participating in the exercise from being infected with the new coronavirus by screening participants for fevers. Officials said none of the troops tested positive for the virus, and no cases were reported during the entire program.

COVID-19, which originated in China, has spread throughout the world including the United States and host country Thailand, where 47 cases had been reported as of Thursday. Through March 5, the World Health Organization recorded at least 95,000 cases and 3,200 deaths in at least 85 countries.


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