Malaysia joins Southeast Asia’s largest military exercise

BANGKOK, 28 Feb 2023:

Thailand and the US today began the 42nd Cobra Gold manoeuvres, the largest military exercises in Southeast Asia conducted on a large scale this year after the Covid19 pandemic, with the participation of thousands of soldiers from some 30 countries.

After editions on a fairly small scale in 2021 and 2022, the exercises return in full this year to include the participation of troops from about 30 countries – including Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea, as well as 6,000 American and about 3,000 Thai soldiers.

Other nations, such as China, India and Australia, will participate in humanitarian and disaster relief exercises, while another dozen countries will join workshops for multinational operational planning.

Another 10, including Cambodia, Germany and Vietnam, will be observers, while Myanmar has not attended the exercises since the February 2021 military coup.

“Through Cobra Gold, we demonstrate our determination to respond together to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific so that all nations can maintain peace, stability and prosperity,” said US Indo-Pacific Command Commander Admiral John Aquilino, at the opening ceremony of the manoeuvres.

Until March 10, defence forces will carry out a series of practices, workshops and projects in the eastern region of Thailand with the aim of sharing military manoeuvres and tactics on the battlefield, US and Thai Defense sources reported.

As tensions between Washington and Beijing grow, soldiers will also explore new military technologies and equipment.

The return of large-scale manoeuvres, which began more than four decades ago at the height of the Cold War, comes at a time of escalation of tension between China and the US, which, together with its allies in the Pacific region, looks with concern about the growing influence of Beijing in that strategic area.