By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2014 – In a ceremony at Camp Akatosarot in Thailand today, Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, kicked off the 33rd iteration of Exercise Cobra Gold.
Cobra Gold 14 is designed to advance regional security and provide effective response to regional crises through a multinational force from nations that share common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region, officials said.
Noting that Thailand is the oldest U.S. ally in the region – the U.S.-Thai alliance is entering its 181st year — Locklear called Cobra Gold the Pacific’s signature exercise and one of the largest and most important multilateral exercises in which the United States participates.
In 2012, U.S. and Thai defense leaders signed a joint vision statement to update the defense relationship between the two nations, which expanded the nations’ regional partnership to focus on challenges that include disaster relief and other global security contributions, Locklear said.
“Events like Cobra Gold allow us to work together multilaterally to exercise those commitments,” he added. “Since 1980, Cobra Gold has served to develop, better respect and understand all the participants. This 33rd annual event, with over 13,000 participants, is no different.”
But Cobra Gold 14 is more than just the United States and Thai forces, as myriad nations are represented in the exercise, he noted. “Whether you are a participant or an observer, whether you have been here from the beginning or this is your nation’s first Cobra Gold, your presence here demonstrates your country’s resolve to support peace and stability in the region,” Locklear told the kick-off ceremony’s audience.
This year’s exercise “will prepare us for a whole spectrum of challenges,” from field exercises and live firing events, the admiral said. Humanitarian civic assistance projects also are important to the event, he added.
“Cobra Gold truly replicates the dynamic security environment we find ourselves in today, and what we will face in the future,” Locklear said. “We must continue to build on the rich history of cooperation that events like Cobra Gold provide for us.”
Aspiring to work closely with all nations in the region to confront common challenges and continue peace and prosperity is critical, he added.
“Together, we can build a common view on security interests,” he said, adding that through such bilateral and multilateral engagements, participating nations will improve and share understanding, and enhance trust.
“I look forward to the opportunity when we can continue to work together to solve problems that each of our nations face,” the Pacom commander said, “and toward a brighter future for the entire region for ourselves, our children, and their children.”
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkAFPS)
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