U.S., South Korean and Thai forces took part in an amphibious landing exercise as part of this year’s annual Cobra Gold 2018 exercises that are being held in Thailand.
This year, South Korea sent 300 soldiers — its highest number since joining the Cobra Gold exercises in 2010. Those troops joined 2,000 U.S. Marines and Thai soldiers in eastern Thailand for the amphibious exercise.
“Our friends in the Republic of Korea, South Koreans, we stand by them. We work with them,” said Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. “We are allies. We continue to coordinate and keep pressure on. Hopefully through diplomatic means we would be able to come to some successful resolution of the problem.”
Officials said 11,075 service members from 29 countries are taking part in this year’s exercise, with Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia the seven main participants. The U.S. contributed 6,800 troops.
U.S. amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard and the South Korean landing ship Cheon Ja Bong participated in the amphibious portion of the exercises.
“The aims of the exercise are to enhance security cooperation, develop peacekeeping forces and maintain readiness for humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions,” said an American military media report. [source]
Analysis: The exercises take on particular importance this year as tensions on the Korean peninsula remain high. All eyes are on North Korea now that the Olympics at Pyeongchang South Korea are winding down this week; the fact that South Korea sent the largest amount of troops ever to this year’s Cobra Gold emphasizes Seoul’s importance on maintaining its fighting edge.