Cobra Gold culvert construction
Indonesian soldiers construct a water culvert in Rayong, Thailand, Feb. 2, 2012. Royal Thai service members, Indonesian armed forces personnel and U.S. troops will construct a culvert and multi-purpose building for the nearby Ban Khlong Bangbor Schoo... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP SURANAREE, Thailand (Feb. 8, 2012) -- "Now the auspicious moment has arrived. I would like to declare the combined joint Exercise Cobra Gold 2012 open," said Gen. Sakol Sajjanit, deputy chief of the Royal Thai Defense Forces, Feb. 7, at the opening ceremony for Cobra Gold.

The exercise is an annual multinational combined joint training exercise held throughout the Kingdom of Thailand. It is the United States' largest multilateral exercise in the Asia-Pacific region and offers more than 20 participating countries critical training opportunities to improve interoperability in conducting multinational operations.

"I would like to thank the United States government and the United States armed forces, especially the United States Pacific Command for co-hosting this year's exercise, as well as all personnel, organizations and participating countries for their sacrifice and devotion in making this exercise possible," said Sajjanit.

In its 31st iteration, Exercise Cobra Gold demonstrates multinational commitment to allied forces in the Asia-Pacific region and focuses on regional partnership, prosperity and security commitments in the region.

Events during Cobra Gold include a computer-simulated command-post exercise, field training operations and humanitarian and civic-assistance projects that increase the standard of living for the Thai people in surrounding communities. Additionally, senior leaders will meet to share knowledge with one another and build relationships.

"Cobra Gold is much more than just an exercise," said Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck Jr., commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force. "We have a challenging two weeks in front of us that will build relationships between partnering nations and improve the interoperability for forces across the range of military operations."

Participating nations in Cobra Gold 12 include: the U.S., Kingdom of Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the Republic of Korea.

"We are very proud of our alliance with Thailand, and our alliances and partnerships throughout Asia," said Judith Beth Cefkin, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy Bangkok, Thailand. "These relationships based on friendship, common goals and mutual respect makes Cobra Gold the vital and vibrant exercise it is today."

Glueck's closing remarks challenged exercise participants to avoid complacency and to maximize their efforts to accomplish the exercise goals.

Cobra Gold 12 aims to improve capability to plan and conduct combined joint operations, build relationships between partner nations and improve interoperability. A total of about 10,000 service members from 20 nations are participating in the exercise which takes place throughout Thailand until Feb 17.

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