American soldier dies at Cobra Gold military exercise in Thailand

The opening ceremony for the 42nd iteration of Exercise Cobra Gold in Rayong 28/02/23 | Photo via U.S. Army

An American soldier attending the annual Cobra Gold military exercise in Thailand was found dead in the bathroom at an army camp in Lop Buri province, north of Bangkok, yesterday at 9.40am.

Officers from Mueang Lop Buri Police Station travelled to the 31st Infantry Regiment to find the soldier deceased in the bathroom in a pool of blood. There was a wound on his head.

Police revealed no further details about the soldier’s identity or suspected cause of death. Thai media reports that it is possible that the soldier slipped in the bathroom but this waiting to be confirmed with autopsy results.

Cobra Gold is the largest joint military exercise in Asia, with troops from 30 countries joining this year.

The 42nd iteration of Exercise Cobra Gold started on Tuesday and will run until March 10, with army camps hosting Cobra Gold activities in Chanthaburi, Sa Kaeo, Rayong and Lop Buri provinces.

This year, Cobra Gold has attracted the most US troops in over a decade, with more than 6000 US army personnel in attendance. More than 3000 Thai troops are joining the military drill.

The increased presence of US troops is thought to be part of Washington’s efforts to build on its ties with Thailand amid rising global geopolitical competition with Beijing.

Cobra Gold this year has three main elements: a staff exercise, which includes a senior leaders’ seminar; humanitarian civic assistance projects in Thai communities; and field training which includes a variety of exercises to strengthen regional relationships and enhance interoperability.

At the Cobra Gold opening ceremony in Rayong, US envoy to Thailand Robert Godec said…

“Cobra Gold helps build interoperability, advances our common interests, and serves as a demonstration of our dedication to our allies and partners in ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

America’s commitment to Cobra Gold indicates the recuperation of Thai – US relations since Washington heavily criticised the military coup led by current Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in 2014.


Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.