U.S. Open to Thais Inviting Burma to Observe Cobra Gold
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2012 The United States is open to considering a Thai request to allow a small contingent of Burmese military officers to attend the joint exercise Cobra Gold 2013 as observers, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.
Thailand hosts the military exercise and in consultation with the United States will make the decision on whether to invite up to three Burmese officers to observe portions of the annual event.
If the invitation is extended, the Burmese observers will only participate in the humanitarian assistance/disaster response and military medical portions of the exercise.
Cobra Gold is a Thai-led exercise and is the largest Asia-based military exercise the United States participates in. Around 6,900 U.S. service members participated in Cobra Gold 2012 held in February.
There are two set of observers. The first is called multinational planning augmentation teams and include nations such as Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The second category of observers consists of coalition observer liaison teams, and this would include Burma. This past year, coalition observer liaison teams came from Brunei, China, the Netherlands, Laos, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates.
The Burmese government has opened up over the past year. As part of a larger U.S. government effort, DOD representatives were part of a State Department-led visit to Burma earlier this month.
“That mission was focused primarily on human rights dialogue with the Burmese,” Little said. “We’re exploring opportunities to discuss a range of issues with the government of Burma.”