Chinese Troops to Observe U.S.-led Military Exercises

By:  Warren Mass
Chinese Troops to Observe U.S.-led Military Exercises

Mainland China sent 17 troops to join Cobra Gold 2014 — an annual Thai-U.S. co-sponsored joint and multinational military exercise that runs from January 10 through February 22 this year.

The exercise includes 9,000 troops from the United States, 4,000 from Thailand, 80 from Singapore, 120 from Japan, 300 from South Korea, 160 from Indonesia, and 120 from Malaysia.

According to the Chinese People’s Daily Online, the Chinese soldiers, mainly from the Guangzhou Military Area Command in southern China, will participate in humanitarian relief drills and will not engage in any combat maneuvers. They are taking part in operations at the command and coordination center, providing engineering and medical assistance, and joining discussions and exchanges of information on military medical sciences.

Besides China, Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar will also participate as observers.

According to an American Forces Press Service article about Cobra Gold 2014, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, noted at the ceremony kicking off the 33rd Cobra Gold exercise at Camp Akatosarot in Thailand on February 11 that Thailand is the oldest U.S. ally in the region, with the U.S.-Thai alliance entering its 181st year. Locklear called Cobra Gold “the Pacific’s signature exercise” and one of the largest and most important multilateral exercises in which the United States participates.

Locklear also said that in 2012, U.S. and Thai defense leaders signed a joint vision statement to update the defense relationship between the two nations, which have been expanded to include disaster relief missions and operations contributing to global security.

“Events like Cobra Gold allow us to work together multilaterally to exercise those commitments,” added the admiral. “Since 1980, Cobra Gold has served to develop, better respect and understand all the participants. This 33rd annual event, with over 13,000 participants, is no different.”

Statements about the Chinese participation in the exercise coming from China tended to puff up the significance of the Asian giant’s minor role in the annual event, first held as a bilateral exercise between Thailand and the United States in 1982.

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Photo of Chinese soldiers

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