Cobra Gold 21: U.S., Royal Thai infantrymen practice close quarters combat

UTAPAO, Kingdom of Thailand – The 40th iteration of the Cobra Gold exercise took place August 3-13, 2021 in the Kingdom of Thailand.

The annual military exercise, jointly sponsored by Thailand and the United States, included multiple virtual and face-to-face events with soldiers from seven fully participating nations: the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, and Singapore, as well as observers and other participants from other nations and organizations in of the region.

“We appreciate this opportunity to work again with friends, partners and allies to conduct this long-standing multinational exercise, to learn from one another, and to further strengthen our connections as military professionals,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Patrick Ellis, deputy multinational force commander of Cobra Gold 21 and senior US military officials on site. “These ties are particularly deep between the Royal Thai and the US armed forces. For the past 40 years, Cobra Gold has served as the cornerstone of the Thai-American alliance. “

As one of the longest-running international exercises in the world, Cobra Gold is a demonstration of the United States’ commitment to Thailand and like-minded allies and partners in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The exercise is designed to promote regional security and ensure effective responses to regional crises.

“Cobra Gold is not just an exercise, it is a stage for building trust and strengthening relationships among participating nations to maintain security and stability in the region,” said General Suphot Malaniyom, chief of staff of the Royal Thai Armed Forces.

This year’s exercise has been carefully modified to mitigate the risks of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Participating units coordinated with the Royal Thai Armed Forces in order to come together safely in compliance with strict protective measures. Service members complied with all of the Royal Thai Government’s COVID containment requirements, including a mandatory 15-day quarantine, COVID testing, temperature check, and face covering.

“Our ability to conduct Cobra Gold – and its robust exercises – in a safe manner that mitigates COVID-19 risks for participating nations and the Thai public is testament to the strength of our safety and health partnerships,” said US Head of Embassy d’Affaires Michael Heath.

“It is noteworthy that, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, our nations still managed to exercise safely during this exercise and achieve all of our common goals,” said Ellis. “Together we have shown that allies and partners can safely train together even during a pandemic.”

Cobra Gold 21 emphasized joint military training, civic engagement, humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

In Sa Kaeo Province, Thai and US military engineers worked together to build a new multi-purpose facility at Baan Mai Thai Pattan School, which enabled the school to accommodate a growing number of students. The project was part of Cobra Gold’s Engineering Civic Action Program, which leverages the capabilities of the U.S. and Royal Thai Armed Forces to support local communities.

The fourth annual Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief tabletop exercise has been converted into a fully virtual format for the first time. From July 30th to August 1st, a total of 54 participants from nine nations discussed civil-military efforts in the field of disaster relief and aid for the needy. The event was attended by experts from the US and Royal Thai governments, as well as international organizations such as the United Nations, ASEAN and the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

In Surin Province, Royal Thai and U.S. soldiers conducted a landmine and dud destruction exercise to clear more than 11,000 duds and protect civilians from the debris of war. The exercise also included trauma response medical training.

Field training exercises enabled Thai and American Army, Marines, and special operations forces to strengthen bonds, learn from one another, build interoperability, and improve tactical skills. Together they practiced maneuvers with small units, trained defensive obstacles and first aid, operated live weapons systems and exchanged expertise on military equipment such as the Stryker armored vehicle.

Multinational teams gained experience in a command and control exercise – they worked together to plan and direct complex military operations as headquarters for a simulated combined joint task force. In addition, for the third year in a row, Cobra Gold hosted a cyberspace field training course where participating nations came together to share best practices for defending networks and operating in a modern information environment.

In order to further protect the health and safety of staff during Cobra Gold 21, several major events followed a hybrid format with a combination of personal and virtual participation. These hybrid events included the opening and closing ceremonies, the command-and-control exercise, and the cyber exercise.

“We can be proud of everything we have achieved as a multinational team,” said Ellis.

For more information, photos and stories about Cobra Gold, including past iterations, visit Cobra Gold’s public website at, follow Twitter at @ExerciseCG or on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram at @ExerciseCobraGold .

Recording date: 08/13/2021
Release Date: 08/23/2021 10:28 PM
Story ID: 403771
Location: UTAPAO, TH
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