1. one can’t help notice how extra light is the news coverage of this important exercise in Southeast Asia, a known hotspot for terrorists. of course there is a history of these sorts of things suddenly going ‘live’, as they did on 911 and 7/7.

THE Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is taking part in in Exercise Cobra Gold, being held in Pattaya, Thailand from Monday to Feb 11.

The multilateral exercises, also involving the Royal Thai Armed Forces, United States Pacific Command, Japan Self-Defence Forces, Indonesian National Defence Forces and the Republic of Korea Armed Forces, focus on peace support and civilian evacuation operations, said a statement from the Singapore’s Ministry of Defence on Monday.

…Representatives from another 20 countries are also involved in this year’s exercise as observers.

more @ straits times

2. largest US - Asia wargames — “rehearsal” for the day when the services are needed.

RAYONG (Thailand) - THE US military began its largest war games in the Pacific region on Monday - an annual training exercise with troops from Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and Singapore, now joined by South Korea.

At the opening ceremony in the eastern Thai province of Rayong, US Ambassador Eric G. John said that the ‘Cobra Gold’ exercise, now in its 29th year, had become a ‘multinational showcase event’. ‘The US continues to view this exercise, which is our premier training event in Thailand, as an important symbol of US military commitment to maintaining peace and security in Asia,’ he told the audience.

‘It’s imperative that our separate militaries learn to work with each other - together - and rehearse for the day their services are needed to answer that call for help,’ he said. In total representatives from more than 20 countries will participate, observe or support, he added. — AFP

more @ straits times

3. Thailand and the United States are long-time allies, but a large sum of US military assistance to the Southeast Asian nation was suspended after a Thai coup in 2006. The aid was resumed after elections in December 2007.

source

4. Thailand walks a fine line with the weapons cache: keeps the men in detention, mentions Iran, but splits hairs with the cargo and the flight plan

BANGKOK - THAILAND said Monday that an aircraft loaded with North Korean weapons was flying to Iran when it was intercepted in December but the ultimate destination of the arms is still not known….

But Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayarkorn said Monday that ‘to say that the weapons are going to Iran, that might be inexact.’ ‘The report only says where the plane was going to according to its flight plan, but it doesn’t say where the weapons were going to,’ he said. ‘It’s still under investigation, and the suspects are under our legal system.’

The five-man crew - four from Kazakhstan and one from Belarus - remain under detention. The crew has been charged with illegal arms possession, but the charges are expected to be stiffened once the investigation wraps up, police have said. The weapons found on board the aircraft were reportedly light battlefield arms, including grenades - hardly the ones Iran’s sophisticated military would need.

more @ straits times

5. training based on a computer simulation

“The training is based on a “computer-simulated command post exercise (CPX), field training exercises linked to the CPX, and humanitarian and civic assistance projects,” he said. The joint activity is designed to improve the American Pacific Command’s ability to carry out joint and multi-national military operations and to improve the ability of the participating countries’ armed forces to work together.

The computer-era exercise combines Thai, US, Singaporean, Japanese, Indonesian, and South Korean participants in a coalition grouping.
Thai, US, Singaporean, Japanese, Indonesian, South Korean, and United Nations military force personnel will participate in the field training modelled after the UN’s multi-national peace support operations scenario.

more @ bernama

6. additional details from the military: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2010/01/mil-100112-afps04.htm

Sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command and the Royal Thai Supreme Command, the three-week exercise includes a command-post exercise, a series of medical and engineering civic-action projects and joint and combined field training. The exercise continues to serve as a venue to build interoperability between the United States and its Asia-Pacific regional partners.

The command-post exercise focuses on training a Thai, U.S., Singaporean, Indonesian, and South Korean coalition task force. The exercise also includes Japan participating within a United Nations Force staff. A team composed of representatives from Brunei, Chile, China, Germany, Laos, Mongolia, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Vietnam will observe the command-post exercise at the invitation of the Thai government.

Among Cobra Gold 2010’s objectives is Pacom’s rapid deployment of a joint task force and subsequent coordination with U.N. forces, with the aim of improving Pacom’s ability to conduct multinational operations and increase interoperability with partner nations, officials said.

In addition, officials noted, the military-to-military relationships developed during Cobra Gold exercises underscore a combined capability to face myriad issues in the Asia-Pacific theater, including terrorism, transnational threats, and humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief efforts.

(From a U.S. Army Pacific news release.)

7. overview of why the military does this exercise in general: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/cobra-gold.htm

“Cooperative engagement” is the USCINCPAC strategy designed to deter aggression, promote peace, encourage prosperity and democratic ideals, and — if necessary– allow the US to fight and win if a conflict cannot be avoided. Specifically, the strategy is a process of aggressively employing the means available to USPACOM (forces, assets, funds, and programs) in three principal ways: forward presence, strong alliances and friendships, and a visible demonstrated capacity for crisis response. The goal is to achieve engagement and participation in peace, deterrence and cooperation in crisis, and a swift and decisive victory in conflict, through multilateral alliances if possible.

Thailand is one of five countries in the Pacific region with which the US has a functioning security alliance. The other four countries are Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, and the Republic of the Philippines. Thailand and the US have an extensive bilateral military exercise program.

Cobra Gold is a regularly-scheduled joint/combined exercise and is the latest in the continuing series of U.S. – Thai military exercises designed to ensure regional peace and strengthen the ability of the Royal Thai Armed Forces to defend Thailand or respond to regional contingencies. Cobra Gold is one of several training exercises the US conducts with Thailand each year. The US funds Thai military and civilian professional development training under the international military education and training program (IMET). Thailand is a generous host to US Navy ships that make frequent port calls at Pattaya and Phuket.

Cobra Gold is a six-week exercise during April and May, the hottest time of the year in Thailand where daytime temperatures linger between 103 and 107 degrees Fahrenheit.