PHITSANULOK, Thailand -- Standing under the Thailand sun, 450 servicemen and women, from seven countries, stood strong and still in formation as dignitaries from the U.S. and Thailand officially declared the longest-running military exercise in the world has begun.
Exercise Cobra Gold 2020, the crown jewel of the enduring U.S-Thai relationship, officially started February 25, 2020 at a ceremony at Camp Akathotsarot, Phitsanulok, Thailand.
"We eagerly celebrate the 39th year of this exercise, jointly sponsored by Thailand and the United States, and developed over these many years into the largest multinational exercise in the Indo-Pacific region," said Maj. Gen. Pete Johnson, the deputy commanding general for the United States Army, Pacific.
CG20 is the largest joint and combined military exercise in Southeast Asia. Conducted annually since 1982, CG prepares participant countries to work together multilaterally across a full spectrum of operations. These operations provide great benefits to interoperability and will contribute to the operational readiness of all the forces involved.
"The benefits of Cobra Gold have been clearly demonstrated across the years," said Mike Heath, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Bangkok, Thailand. "The nations represented here today have fought side-by-side on battlefields across the world."
The service members standing in formation represent a fraction of the total participating in the exercise. The servicemembers participating in CG 2020 are from the U.S., Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. In addition, dozens of other nations participate as observers.
Our treaty-alliance means that Thailand and the United States are committed to work together with other like-minded nations in support of regional and global security to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific," said Johnson.
"It's fitting that Thailand and the US should co-chair this exercise since our two nations also enjoy an extremely long and deep bond together for over 200 years," said Heath.
CG20 is scheduled to go for 10 days. The key training events are the amphibious assault demonstration, the non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO), the humanitarian civic action project, landmine destruction, defensive cyber techniques, and the combined arms live fire exercise which features the Bronco Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, from Schofield Barracks, HI.
This year the participating nations will get advanced and realistic training designed to challenge the servicemembers, but also create new relationships between nations, leaders, and servicemen and women participating in the exercise.
"I am confident that over the next two-weeks you will develop mutual trust and increase multilateral interoperability which does support our collective endeavor to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific," said Johnson. "Thank you all for your efforts for Cobra Gold 2020, it will no doubt be the very best ever.