Archive for February 26, 2012
More than 10,000 troops from the United States and six Asian nations spent a week in Thailand hitting the beach in an amphibious exercise, learning jungle survival skills, building schools and practicing humanitarian evacuations.
It was all part of Cobra Gold 12, the largest joint exercise in the Asia Pacific region, which has been hosted by Thailand and the U.S. Since 1980.
Troops from Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, Malayasia, Singapore, Japan and the United States took part in various parts of the exercise. Another 10 countries also joined in a computer simulated command post exercise at Camp Suranaree in Korat, Thailand.
The object of Cobra Gold is for participating nations to learn from each others’ unique experience and better prepare for a unified approach to future contingencies. Cobra Gold 12 ran from Feb. 7 to Feb. 17.
U.S. Marines joined South Korean and Royal Thai Marines in the amphibious assault demonstrationat Hat Yao. There also was a combined live fire exercise involving close air support, artillery fire and infantry maneuvers. Other participants like Singapore joined the U.S. and Thailand in building school buildings for several Thai communities. The bulk of the particiapting forces came from the U.S. : about 7,000 Marine and sailors. About 3,000 Thai troops, more than 300 from South Korea, 79 from Malaysia and 59 from Singapore also participated.
Although Cobra Gold 2012 has been planned for more than a year, it took on added significance this year with the U.S. Strategy shift that will focus on the Asia Pacific region. Also the U.S. Marine Corps, which sent the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force to Cobra Gold, is promoting its expeditionary and amphibious skills to Pentagon budget planners after 10 years of war in the deserts, mountains and cities of Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition to current bases in South Korea and Japan, the U.S. plans to base Marines in northern Australia and new shallow draft Littoral Combat Ships in Singapore. The U.S. is also in discussions with the Philippines about a return of U.S. forces (but not U.S. bases) to the island nation for the first time since 1992, when massive U.S. naval and air bases were closed.
While China was not mentioned in the official press statements issued by government agencies during Cobra Gold, a number of countries from the region — including some that sent military units or observers to the exercise have gotten into tiffs with the People’s Republic over who has sovereignty over the South China Sea and the oil and mineral wealth believed to lie beneath its waters.