CHIANG MAI PROVINCE, Thailand – Today’s opening ceremony for Exercise Cobra Gold 2013 in Chiang Mai province marks beginning of the 32nd iteration of the largest multinational exercise in the Asia-Pacific region.<br /> <br /> Service members from 15 nations attended the ceremony. The military representatives are participating in Cobra Gold to develop greater interoperability among forces, improve relationships and further develop the ability to solve regional challenges.<br /> <br /> The event was presided over by a delegation of Thai and U.S. leaders, all expressing their excitement about the continued success of exercise Cobra Gold.<br /> <br /> “As you know, Cobra Gold has become a truly multinational exercise,” said Royal Thai Army Lt. Gen. Tarnchaiyan Srisuwan, the Thai-directed lead of CG 13 and director of Joint Operations for the Royal Thai Armed Forces. “Its size is growing ever larger, in terms of the number of the parties participating and in every nation and throughout the world. We will address those military operations other-than-war, such as peace-support operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. These allow the nations to work close to enhance interoperability.”<br /> <br /> The exercise, which ends Feb. 21, will improve the capability to plan and conduct combined-joint operations and will provide an opportunity for partner nations to build relationships and improve interoperability across the range of military operations, added Srisuwan.<br /> <br /> “It is critical to building our multinational coordination,” said U.S. Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear, III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command. “Our interoperability with all our partners in the region allows us to collectively be able to respond to crises and to protect the peace and prosperity of all of our people.”<br /> <br /> CG 13 is designed to advance regional security and ensure effective response to regional crises by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region.<br /> <br /> “When you train together, talk together, plan together … I know that if a disaster strikes my country or a neighboring country you will all be there,” said Kristie A. Kenney, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand. “You’ll be there at once because whether it’s flooding in Thailand, a typhoon in the Philippines or a tsunami in Indonesia, you know because you’ve worked together how to respond immediately and effectively to save lives. As a civilian, I know that makes us safer, more productive and more prosperous.”<br /> <br /> Exercise Cobra Gold provides a platform for participating nations, which includes Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, Japan, Republic of Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as observers from other countries in the Pacific, to promote regional prosperity, security and cooperation among partner militaries. <br /> <br /> “Every citizen of every nation in this region has a stake in their security and should be interested in what happens here at Cobra Gold,” said Locklear. “I hope that we all continue to work together for the betterment of peace and prosperity, it’s really our only choice. So, forward together we will meet the challenges and forge a better future for this region and the world.”<br /> <br /> The exercise includes humanitarian and civic assistance projects, a staff exercise and field training exercises. Joint and multinational training is vital to maintaining the readiness and interoperability of all participating military forces.<br /> <br /> “Our relationship is strong and very important to both countries and provides a solid foundation for continued regional peace and security,” said Thai Army Gen. Yuthana Phagpolngam, deputy chief of Defense Forces for the Royal Thai Army. “I would like to emphasize friendship, which is another objective of this exercise, and I would like us all to learn to appreciate our different cultures with all our counterparts.” <br /> Participation in Cobra Gold demonstrates the commitment of attendees to building military-to-military relationships and strengthening the long-standing ties with partner nations.<br /> <br /> “Whether you’re a participant or an observer, whether you have been here 32 years, or if this is your first year, you’re being here demonstrates your country’s resolve to peace and stability. In this region and the world,” concluded Locklear.