Thailand and US launch annual Cobra Gold military exercise

Thailand and US launch annual Cobra Gold military exercise
In this photo by release Royal Thai Armed Forced Headquarters, from left; acting U.S. ambassador Peter Haymond, The Royal Thai Armed Forces, Gen. Pornpipat Benyasri, Commander, and U.S. Army First Corps representing U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Lt. Gen. Gary J. Volesky salute during the opening ceremony of the joint military exercise Cobra Gold 2019, Phitsanulok Province, Thailand. Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. The exercise will take place from Feb. 12-22 focusing on military Field Training Exercise, Humanitarian Civic Assistance to communities and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Exercise. (Royal Thai Armed Forced Headquarters via AP)

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand and the United States have hosted the opening ceremony for the annual Cobra Gold military exercise, the biggest activity of its type in the Asia-Pacific region with 29 nations taking part as participants or observers.

Seven nations in addition to Thailand and the United States are active participants: Singapore, Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea.

The acting head of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Thailand, Peter Haymond, said at the ceremony Tuesday in northern Thailand that the aim of the exercise, first held in 1982, is to strengthen cooperation and inter-operability.

There are three major components of the exercise, which ends Feb. 22: military field training, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training.