Exercise Helps Pacific Nations Prepare for Crises
By Christen N. McCluney
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2010 A multilateral exercise under way in Thailand is helping the United States and its Pacific-region partners improve their ability to respond to regional crises.
“Cobra Gold is one of the best and most important exercises that we do as a part of U.S. Pacific Command,” Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, commander of U.S. Army Pacific, said during a Feb. 2 "DoDLive" bloggers roundtable.
Though it began as a bilateral exercise between Thailand and the U.S. military, Cobra Gold has grown over the years to include participation by other Pacific nations. It takes place annually in Thailand and focuses on maintaining and improving military-to-military relationships among the United States, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and other nations in the region, Mixon said.
More than 11,500 personnel, including 6,000 from the United States, are participating this year.
Noting that the U.S. relationship with the Thai government goes back 177 years, Mixon emphasized the exercise’s importance.
“We have an extremely long-standing relationship, and Cobra Gold simply highlights many of the activities that we do in the Asia-Pacific region, a region that is extremely important to the United States,” he said. “This exercise is important not only because it is one of the largest multilateral exercises, but it also involves the first-ever deployment of the contingency command post, which is a part of U.S. Army Pacific.”
During Cobra Gold, contingency command post personnel are studying Haitian relief efforts for lessons learned. The exercise is rooted in partnerships and recognizes the need for multinational solutions to common challenges ranging from transnational violent extremism to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, the general said.
“Regional cooperation is always important,” Mixon pointed out. “In this region, countries have responded very well to the major disasters in the past. So I think, as we continue to do this training, we will only get better at the ability to respond rapidly and then to work together with all the other governmental agencies that would be involved in disaster relief.”
Mixon noted that Cobra Gold represents only one aspect of full U.S. engagement in the Pacific region.
“We're out here and engaged across the board, both the Army in the Pacific and U.S. Pacom, and we continue to remain engaged out here in the region because it is of vital importance to the United States,” Mixon said.
(Christen N. McCluney works in the Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.)