US, Thailand to hold annual military exercises with troops from 30 countries – Eurasia Review

By bimuk rakanam

The United States will hold annual, large-scale military exercises in Thailand in late February, the two allies announced Friday, with more than 10,000 troops from 30 countries participating.

As part of the maneuver, US and Thai navies will salvage a US-made Thai Navy ship that sank in the Gulf of Thailand in December 2022, leaving 34 crew members dead or unaccounted for.

„The objective of the 2024 exercise is to improve the relations of all participating nations, improve the capability and interoperability of forces in conducting operations under a joint-joint environment, and adapt to different types of threats and crises,” General Didichai said. Tiantong, Chief of the Joint Staff of the Royal Thai Armed Forces.

The Cobra Gold War Games will be held from February 27 to March 10. It is the 43rd iteration of the world's longest international military exercise and one of the largest integrated military exercises in the Indo-Pacific region.

Troops from seven major participants — the United States, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan — will join the combat exercises, which will include amphibious landings, strategic parachute jumps, ground and aerial live-fire and cyber warfare.

China will not participate in combat exercises, but will join India in civil action missions.

Light protection function

Thailand and the United States will be involved in light rescue operations HTMS SukhothaiOfficials from both countries said on Friday that it capsized in stormy seas in Prasup Giri Khan province.

According to the Royal Thai Navy, twenty-nine crew members died and five were unaccounted for.

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„This rescue, implemented as part of COBRA GOLD 2024, will bring some comfort and closure to the families of all the brave sailors and marines who have gone missing,” said US Ambassador Robert F. Codec said at a joint press conference. Thai Army Headquarters on Friday.

Meanwhile, the head of the Royal Thai Navy denied local reports that the U.S. had forced it to abandon a contract with a Chinese-linked company to fully recover the corvette from the 50-meter-deep seabed.

„The US Navy's offer came right and has nothing to do with any Chinese company,” said the commander of the Royal Thai Navy, Adm. Chatchai Tongsaard said at the same conference.

He attributed the delay to the Thai navy's miscalculation of its self-rescue capability.

Light salvage operations include searching for the dead, surveying the damage, recovering undamaged components, and destroying damaged weapons. The ship is likely to be scrapped, he said.

Amphibious landing exercises

First premiered in 1982, this year's Cobra Gold exercise will feature more arrays of state-of-the-art military hardware as it follows the format of a two-year cycle.

According to Col. Kurt Leffler, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, the US will not field any carrier strike groups. Instead, the focus will be on parachute landing exercises, he said.

US Ambassador Codec emphasized the importance of the Indo-Pacific region, where 60% of the world's seaborne trade takes place.

„Cobra Gold maintains our shared readiness to protect the global commons, which is well suited to the increasing piracy in major shipping lanes around the world,” he said.

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„Protecting Indo-Pacific maritime trade routes ensures the free flow of goods and services, which keeps transportation costs low, helps Thai and American businesses thrive and lower prices benefit consumers.”

The war games were scaled back in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc across the world that year.

In Myanmar, which staged a military coup against a civilian government in 2021, it was not invited to observe exercises in 2022 because of limited space, the Thai military said. It is not clear whether it participated in Cobra Gold 2021, which it almost did.

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