Connect with us


Cobra Gold skews military focus away from China




By Wasamon Audjarint

Against the background of China’s increasing power and assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific, the United States is seeking to intensify Cobra Gold, the largest regional joint military exercise, that is annually hosted by Thailand.

“I believe that Cobra Gold should look for ways to increase the complexity and scope of the exercise every year because we work closely with Thai allies in military space,” ADM Harry Harris, Commander to the US Pacific Command, told reporters at the Defence Ministry on Thursday.

“This year, we’ve increased the US level of participation in Cobra Gold by over 2,000 from last year, [affecting] the scale and type of individual exercises,” he continued. “What we’re doing in Cobra Gold [exercises] helps multiple countries to improve their readiness to fight.”

Due to close on Friday with Harris in attendance, this year’s Cobra kicked off last Tuesday in Chonburi with the principle participation of seven countries including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. China and India have partial participation through the rescue and relief drills. Myanmar’s Tatmadaw military force was invited as an observer, prompting international criticism due to its role in the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority group in Rakhine State.

The 2018 exercise is also marked by the highest number of US troops participating in years, at 6,800 – nearly double last year’s 3,600.

Cobra Gold skews military focus away from China | News by Thaiger

ADM Harry Harris meets PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha

Cobra Gold was scaled down after the 2014 military coup, but that has changed since Donald Trump took office last year. Harris made a high-profile attendance last year to demonstrate the Trump administration’s engagement with the Thai military government.
On Thursday, Harris met with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan and Supreme Commander General Thanchaiyan Srisuwan to “strengthen military-to-military ties to increase understanding and lessen chances of miscalculation”.

According to his testimony to the US Congress last April, Harris is convinced that the US should “engage more, not less, on Thai military leadership” and that “Thailand is committed to a return to democracy with national elections in 2018”.

“[This is] the best way for the US to promote security and healthy civil-military relations in Thailand,” he said before the House Armed Services Committee.

In the meeting on Thursday, Harris emphasised cooperation between the two nations on intelligence, anti-terrorism and support at the United Nations.

Referring to the promised-but-frequently-delayed election, Deputy Government Spokesperson Lt-General Werachon Sukondhapatipak said: “The US Commander also expressed an understanding of Thailand’s willingness to support the process to strong and sustainable democracy following the roadmap.”

Nominated as the next US ambassador to Australia by President Trump, Harris is known for his outspoken remarks on the US policy in Asia Pacific, and particularly on China’s roles.

Shortly before his visit to Thailand, Harris pointed voiced concern that China may “undermine the international rules-based order”, possibly referring to the contentious South China Sea issue.

While the US makes no national territorial claims regarding the sea, allowing China to have power over it would mean obstacles to freedom of navigation and overflights due to Beijing’s militarisation in the disputed areas.

The presence of the US in the Indo-Pacific matters in the final resolution of the South China Sea dispute. The US Army holds more than 1,500 military exercises in the Asia-Pacific region each year. Significant joint, combined and other smaller military exercises take place annually with treaty allies in Asia Pacific Japan, Korea, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines.

SOURCES: The Nation


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Thailand's largest online portal for news and information.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Krabi2 hours ago

Krabi tourism businesses not thrilled about Thailand’s reopening

Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Thammasat University negotiates multiple deals for vaccines

Bangkok4 hours ago

Bangkok prepares swab hubs, rules easing for city reopening

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Bangkok6 hours ago

Rescue workers cut stuck PVC pipe from man’s genitals

Coronavirus (Covid-19)7 hours ago

Covid-19 Saturday Update: 10,648 cases, 82 deaths, provincial data

Thailand9 hours ago

Nearly 70,000 foreigners register for vaccines on expatvac site

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Bangkok9 hours ago

Worker rescued from outside 26th floor after alleged rope cut

Tourism10 hours ago

38 countries reportedly on short list for no-quarantine reopening

Tourism11 hours ago

Tourism operators: Russians and others need clear entry rules

World12 hours ago

Australian suspected gas leak is actually familiar smell for Thais

Bangkok13 hours ago

Soi Dog Foundation provides food relief for animals in flood-hit central Thailand

Hot News1 day ago

Thai Twitter goes crazy as Russell Crowe tweets Sandbox visit

Crime1 day ago

Transgender woman arrested for selling live sex show on LINE

Crime1 day ago

Thai woman charged with trafficking women to Bahrain for sex

Thailand News Today1 day ago

Thailand News Today | Arrival quarantine waived for 5 countries, The new Thailand pass | Oct. 15

Thailand1 month ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism8 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism8 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism8 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11