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.