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Tuesday, February 12, 2019, 20:13
Thailand, US launch annual Cobra Gold military exercise
By Associated Press
Tuesday, February 12, 2019, 20:13 By Associated Press

In this photo released by Royal Thai Armed Forced Headquarters, from left, acting US ambassador Peter Haymond; the Royal Thai Armed Forces Gen. Pornpipat Benyasri, Commander, and US Army First Corps representing US Indo-Pacific Command Lt. Gen. Gary J Volesky salute during the opening ceremony of the joint military exercise Cobra Gold 2019, in Phitsanulok province, Thailand, Feb 12, 2019. (ROYAL THAI ARMED FORCED HEADQUARTERS VIA AP)

BANGKOK — Thailand and the United States on Tuesday hosted the opening ceremony for the annual Cobra Gold military exercise, the biggest activity of its type in the Asia-Pacific region with 29 nations taking part as participants or observers.

Seven nations in addition to Thailand and the United States are active participants: Singapore, Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea. About 4,500 US personnel, on land and sea, are taking part.

The acting head of the US diplomatic mission in Thailand, Peter Haymond, said at the ceremony in the northern Thai province of Phitsanulok that the aim of the exercise, first held in 1982, is to strengthen cooperation and inter-operability.

ALSO READ: Biggest US force in years joins Thai military exercise

There are three major components of the exercise, which ends Feb 22: military field training, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training. Its goals include "enhancing maritime security, preventing and mitigating emerging disease threats, and responding to large-scale natural disasters," a US statement said.

The ceremony was attended by Thai Chief of Defense Forces Gen. Pornpipat Benyasri and the commander of the US Army First Corps, Lt. Gen. Gary J Volesky, representing the US Indo-Pacific Command.

ALSO READ: US admiral stresses democracy at Thai war games

In this Feb 19, 2018 photo, US and South Korean marines watch as a Thai marine handles a cobra during the Cobra Gold joint military exercise in the coastal Thai province of Chonburi. Seven nations in addition to Thailand and the US are active participants of this year’s Cobra Gold exercise in Thailand. (LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)

"We have witnessed that this Thai-American initiative has become a significant milestone of military collaboration that has expanded to the regional level," a statement issued by the exercise quoted Pornpipat as saying.

"I believe that not only has Cobra Gold served as a platform for understanding and working together in the region, but has now become beneficial for our other strategic partners," he said.

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