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NEWS | March 11, 2024

Joint exercise Cobra Gold 24 concludes furthering multinational relationships and interoperability

By Lt. Col. Jennifer Bocanegra, I Corps

This year’s Cobra Gold, the paramount joint multinational military exercise in Southeast Asia, successfully concluded after two weeks of intensive training, humanitarian efforts and cultural exchanges.

This 43rd iteration of Cobra Gold, co-hosted by the Royal Thai Armed Forces and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, brought together over 9,000 military personnel, including 4,500 from the U.S. Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, marking a significant milestone in the exercise’s storied history.

From February 27 to March 8, participants engaged in various activities to enhance interoperability and foster strong international partnerships. This year’s exercise focused on combined joint all-domain training, humanitarian assistance, disaster response operations and cultural and civic action programs benefiting local Thai communities.

During the opening ceremony, Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson, commanding general for I Corps, highlighted the significance of Cobra Gold, stating, “This exercise is a decades-long example of the enduring partnerships that bind our nations together. As we train and learn from one another, we symbolize the strength that comes from unity, shared goals, and commitment to regional stability.”

Cobra Gold 2024 witnessed unprecedented participation, with 30 nations either observing or actively engaging in various key training events. Seven countries, including Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea, fully participated in training activities ranging from combined live fire drills and airborne operations to an amphibious exercise. This collaborative effort aimed at enhancing human and procedural interoperability across multiple domains, including cyber and space, drew participation from more than 20 other nations in various capacities.

“Cobra Gold is a positive example of multilateral cooperation, as is demonstrated by the continued increase in participating nations; everyone walks away from this better and able to solve problems together,” said Maj. Gen. Matthew McFarlane, deputy commanding general for I Corps.

The three main components of the exercise consisted of a command and control exercise, humanitarian civic assistance projects, and several field training events, each designed to test and strengthen the individual and collective capabilities of the participating forces.

The multinational command post-exercise simulated a large-scale combat operation, challenging international leaders and staff to coordinate effectively in a complex, multilingual and procedurally diverse environment.

Field training events, overseen by a joint task force, included a noncombatant evacuation operation, an amphibious exercise, a strategic airborne operation and a combined live fire exercise.

These events were complemented by cultural exchanges and humanitarian projects, such as the Engineer Civic Assistance Program, which saw service members from the U.S, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and India contribute to improving several schools in central and southeastern Thailand.

During his remarks at the opening ceremony, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Robert F. Godec reflected on the significance of the relationships forged through the Cobra Gold exercise.

“Just as important as the training during Cobra Gold are the relationships forged between countries, between leaders, and among our service members at every level,” Godec said. “The exercise helps to foster a spirit of cooperation and goodwill that transcends language, cultures, and borders.”

The exercise culminated in a closing ceremony on March 8 at the Naval Training Field in Lop Buri, Thailand, attended by military leaders, including the Royal Thai Deputy Chief of Defense Forces, Air Chief Marshal Chanon Muangthanya, and Maj. Gen. Michelle Schmidt, commanding general for 7th Infantry Division.

“Cobra Gold is an annual event where we work together to build interoperability between the United States, Thailand and our allies and partners in the region,” said Schmidt during an interview with local media following the ceremony. “Today was a great representation of the training and collaboration that has happened over the past two weeks here.”

Since its inception in 1982, Cobra Gold has evolved from a bilateral maritime exercise between the U.S. and Thailand into the world’s longest-running multinational military exercise, embodying decades of cooperation and partnership in the Indo-Pacific region.