It is necessary to combine efforts so that next year full-scale maneuvers will take place with the participation of more servicemen from different countries, according to the head of the Indo-Pacific Command of the U.S. Armed Forces, Admiral John Aquilino.

Full-scale international military exercises Cobra Gold are expected to take place in Thailand in February next year. This was announced in an interview with the Bangkok Post newspaper by the head of the Indo-Pacific Command of the U.S. Armed Forces, Admiral John Aquilino, who was in the kingdom on a visit from October 10 to 13.

Thailand and the United States need to join forces so that full-scale maneuvers with the participation of more military personnel from different countries will take place next year, the military believes. “We will conduct [Cobra Gold] in such a way as to satisfy the needs, desires, and restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus,” the publication quoted Aquilino as saying on Thursday. “Together, we will work to return the maneuvers to normal as soon as possible.” “And in the future, I hope [we] will be able to expand the complexity of the training and potentially even increase the number of participating countries,” he said, adding that “the commander-in-chief of the [Thai] Defense Forces will consider which other states will join the exercises.”

Over the past 10 years, the number of U.S. military personnel participating in the annual Cobra Gold maneuvers has decreased from 10 thousand to about 6-7 thousand. This year, the amphibious landing exercises, which were usually held on Sattahip Beach in Chonburi Province, were canceled due to the coronavirus. However, separate field maneuvers were still conducted between the units. From August 3 to August 13, 600 people took part in them. Aquilino expects that they will continue to expand after the Cobra Gold exercises return to normal next year in 2023.

Answering a question about a possible confrontation between the United States and China in the South China Sea, the military said that he and the head of the Defense Forces of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, Chalermpol Srisawat, want to ensure peace, prosperity, and stability for all countries in the region. “The alliance between Thailand and the United States is a very important part of ensuring peace and stability in the entire region,” he stressed. “Thai citizens should feel comfortable knowing that I and the head of the [Thai] defense Forces are coordinating our actions.

The Cobra Gold exercises have been held annually in the kingdom since 1982 and are one of the main symbols of military cooperation between the United States and Thailand.