BANGKOK – The biggest military exercises in Southeast Asia concluded on Friday in Thailand, after 11 days of drills, social and humanitarian projects and traditional jungle training.
A total of 11,075 soldiers from 29 countries participated in the Cobra Gold 2018 training, held in eastern Thailand.
The United States was the biggest participant with 6,125 soldiers, followed by the host Thailand, who sent 4,007 troops to the drills.
South Korea sent 300 troops, its biggest contingent since 2010 when it first joined the annual exercises which started in 1982.
Other participants this year included Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore while Germany, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sweden and Vietnam attended as observers.
Other countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, the Philippines and Mongolia, among others participated under the Multinational Planning Augmentation Team project.
One of the most striking parts of the drills was the training given by Thai soldiers to foreign troops for surviving in the jungle, including learning to make a fire with just wood, finding water sources and hunting animals.
Eating rats and drinking the blood of a cobra was also part of the training, carried out on Feb. 17 at the Ban Chan Khrem camp.
This edition of the drills – joined by six warships, 34 armored cars and 86 aircraft – had a special focus on coordinating humanitarian aid for natural disasters.
The social projects of Cobra Gold 2018 included the construction of six school buildings and teaching rural communities to improve their daily diets, dental hygiene and general health.