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What is the purpose of Cobra Gold?   2012-02-08 21:25:00

Visit the official website of US Pacific Command ( and "Presence with a Purpose" will jump into your eyes. In big crimson font and high on the page, the catchy phrase begs the question: what is the purpose?

To some Chinese people and analysts, the purpose of the ongoing Cobra Gold 2012 exercise, US Pacific Command's (USPACOM) presence in Thailand, is to flex their muscle at the doorstep of China.

The exercise involves countries that have territory disputes with China over the South China Sea and their supporters. The event complicates regional security, said Major General Luo Yuan, deputy secretary general of the China Association for Military Science.

At Tuesday's opening ceremony, Judith Beth Cefkin, deputy chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy to Thailand, called Cobra Gold "the largest military exercise in the world". The exercise is scheduled from Feb. 7 to 17.

More than 13,000 military personnel are participating in the 31st U.S.-led annual exercise. While most of the personnel were from American and Thai forces, Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea and Malaysia also sent their troops.

Cefkin said the event helps participants to better confront " natural disasters, public health crisis, and other emerging, shared security challenges." But Luo said the missions of Cobra Gold 2012 seemed more oriented toward regular war.

According to itineraries from the U.S. Embassy to Thailand and Thai military, the exercise includes amphibious assault, jungle warfare, nuclear & high explosive training, combined arms live fire, among others. Only Feb. 12 was dedicated to a non-combatant evacuation exercise.

Amphibious training is the highlight of the exercise. It will take two days of the 9-day actual exercise (the first day and the last are for ceremonies): amphibious assault demonstration on Friday and amphibious assault vehicle bilateral raid on Saturday. Some analysts worry U.S. military's emphasis on amphibious warfare is targeted at China.

On the Feb. 1 issue of The Diplomat, a current affairs magazine on Asia-Pacific, U.S. Congressman J. Randy Forbes wrote in his editorial Why U.S. Needs Amphibious Skills,"...and the modernization of China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) combined with its maritime territorial disputes, all stand to raise the profile of amphibious forces in the years ahead."

News of Cobra Gold 2012 also sparked anger among Chinese Internet users, who accuse the exercise of "putting China at sword 's end" in numerous posts and comments in,, Chinese social sites similar to twitter.

"Whatever the purpose of Cobra Gold, it is destabilizing for the region. Hopefully, peace-loving people in the participating countries can see the truth and focus on genuinely peaceful and mutual beneficial causes instead of being used by some particular country, Internet user Ding Xiusheng wrote in a post on

source : Xinhua     editor:: Ma Ting
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