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05BANGKOK3945 WORKING WITH THAILAND TO ENGAGE OTHER MILITARIES IN ASIA

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“34687”,”6/15/2005 9:44″,”05BANGKOK3945″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 003945

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, EAP/BCLTV

PACOM FOR FPA HUSO

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/17/2015

TAGS: PGOV, MARR, MASS, TH, POL/MIL

SUBJECT: WORKING WITH THAILAND TO ENGAGE OTHER MILITARIES

IN ASIA

 

REF: 04 BANGKOK 6056 NOTAL

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce. Reason 1.4 (a and d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY. Thailand affords the United States a

unique platform in Asia to work jointly with other Asian

military forces, including those from Japan and Indonesia,

and to conduct multinational peacekeeping, disaster relief

and other exercises. Our largest exercise, Cobra Gold, is

America\’s only annual joint/combined multilateral training

exercise in the Asia Pacific Region. This year\’s exercise

included participation by Japan and Singapore as well as

observers from over twenty countries. Post is also working

with the Thais to build a National Training Facility (NTF) —

which could become a regional center — to improve Thai

peacekeeping and counter-terrorism capabilities. Further

expansion of our cooperative exercises with Thailand and our

expected use of the NTF could go a long way toward

establishing a near-continuous presence in South East Asia in

support of our stability and security goals in the region.

Post solicits assistance from Washington, PACOM, and

AmEmbassy Tokyo on effective ways to shape exercises in

Thailand to deepen involvement by Japanese Self Defense

Forces in PKO and NEO training. Post likewise seeks input on

ways we might shape programs hosted by the Thai to engage the

Indonesian military in ways consistent with U.S. foreign

policy objectives and U.S. law. END SUMMARY.

 

WE CAN DO THINGS IN THAILAND THAT WE CAN\’T DO ELSEWHERE

 

2. (C) Perhaps due to their lack of a colonial heritage,

Thai leaders are far more willing to host multilateral

exercises than are others countries in Asia. Unlike Japan,

which only hosts annual bilateral exercises due to legal

prohibitions over collective security, or Australia, which

avoids multilateral exercises so as not to \”dumb down\” its

own training opportunities, the Royal Thai Government

supports multilateral exercises as a way to show regional

leadership. For example, after initial skepticism about

focusing this year\’s Cobra Gold exercise on disaster relief,

Thai leaders quickly came to embrace the concept — seeing it

as an opportunity to demonstrate Prime Minister Thaksin

Shinawatra\’s regional leadership role. So long as our

concepts are properly sold to Thai military and political

leaders, post is convinced that we can continue to modify

Cobra Gold and other exercises to meet our regional security

objectives — including an ability to establish a

near-continuous presence in the region.

 

WHAT COBRA GOLD HAS BECOME

 

3. (SBU) 2005 marked the 24th year we\’ve held Cobra Gold.

Over that time, the exercise has transformed from a bilateral

effort aimed at training to deter a conventional attack from

Vietnam, to a multilateral exercise aimed at enhancing

humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping skills. Cobra Gold

generally includes a staff exercise involving multinational

players and observers while bilateral field exercises take

place involving thousands of U.S. and Thai troops.

Simultaneously, engineers and medics conduct medical civil

affairs projects (MEDCAPS) and engineering civil affairs

projects (ENCAPS) throughout the country. For the past five

years, Singapore has been a participant in the staff

exercise. In 2004, the Philippines and Mongolia joined

Singapore, the U.S. and Thailand as STAFFEX participants. In

2005, Japan participated in the staff exercise along with

Singapore, Thailand and the United States. In addition to

participant countries, over 30 nations have sent observers to

Cobra Gold. These have traditionally included Australia,

Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, South Korea,

Malaysia, the Maldives, New Zealand, the Philippines, Sri

Lanka and the United Kingdom. Others participate in various

roles, including China, Israel, Russia and France. In 2005,

for the first time, Singapore joined U.S. and Thai experts to

conduct MEDCAPS in the field.

 

4. (SBU) Cobra Gold 2005, with its special focus on

disaster relief, included participation from WHO, World Food

Program, UNDAC and other UN and International relief Agencies

as well as a panoply of U.S. and foreign civilian government

agencies. A one-week Disaster Relief Workshop was widely

attended and included candid presentations by representatives

from tsunami affected countries, including Indonesia. The

workshop featured numerous multinational presentations

including lessons learned discussions that involved Indian

and Pakistani officers on the same panel. This was followed

by a one week staff exercise focused on disaster relief and

aimed at, among others, participants in PACOM\’s multinational

planning augmentation teams (MPAT) — military liaison

officers who were detailed to our U.S. military tsunami

relief headquarters — Combined Support Force 536 — that was

located at Utapao Royal Thai Naval Air Station during the

tsunami relief efforts.

 

SIPDIS

 

WHAT COBRA GOLD CAN BE — ENHANCING JAPANESE PARTICIPATION

 

5. (C) 2005 marked the first time that Japan participated

in Cobra Gold. During the Disaster Relief Conference,

Japanese participants spoke candidly about lessons they

learned from their tsunami deployment — the largest overseas

deployment of Japanese military forces since WWII. The GOJ

has agreed to also participate in Cobra Gold 2006. Given

Japan\’s willingness to participate, Cobra Gold may offer a

useful platform to advance further our security interests

with Japan. Preliminary planning for Cobra Gold 06 has

already begun, but with appropriate guidance from Embassy

Tokyo, USFJ, the Department, PACOM and USARPAC (this year\’s

Cobra Gold coordinator), we may be able to persuade the Thai

to shape Cobra Gold into something that would allow the

Japanese Ground, Air and Maritime Self Defense Forces to step

up their participation. Post solicits ideas from experts on

ideas to make Cobra Gold more palatable for the Japanese and

has two specific questions:

 

–Under the Cobra Gold aegis, could a Non Combatant

Evacuation (NEO) exercise be devised in which the Japanese

could participate?

 

–As part of Cobra Gold, might Japanese medics or engineers

be willing to participate in community relations MEDCAPS or

ENCAPS as Singaporean medics did this year?

 

ALLOWING INDONESIA TO PLAY

 

6. (C) As evidenced by its willingness to allow Utapao to

be the hub for regional relief efforts aimed at Aceh and by

Thai deliveries of relief supplies there, the Royal Thai

Government seems willing to improve its links with Indonesia.

Post seeks advice from Washington and Embassy Jakarta on

whether, under the Cobra Gold umbrella, training programs

could be devised in Thailand that would allow Indonesian

forces to conduct peacekeeping or NEO training with Thai and

U.S. forces.

 

A REGIONAL PKO AND COUNTERTERRORISM TRAINING CENTER

 

7. (C) As well as serving as the host for Cobra Gold,

Thailand offers other platforms to practice multinational

military operations. Thailand has played an important role

in supporting the Global War on Terror and UN sponsored Peace

Keeping Operations. In addition to capturing terrorist

mastermind Hambali in 2003 — a key operative link between

the Jemaah Islamiah and al Qaeda — Thailand sent troops to

both Afghanistan and Iraq. Thailand provided peacekeepers to

East Timor and just announced that 175 soldiers would deploy

to Burundi. JUSMAGTHAI and the Royal Thai Armed Forces have

been working for some time to create a National Training

Facility (NTF) that would serve as a training venue to

enhance Thai proficiency in counterterrorism, peacekeeping,

and counter narcotics and to practice conducting professional

military operations in an urban environment. In addition to

providing Thai military and police a state of the art

training facility, the planned center could be used by U.S.

troops and as a regional training center.

 

8. (C) Just as many other Asian countries have realized,

Thailand has come to terms with the fact that it must be

prepared to combat insurgents in village and urban

environments. The construction of a Military Operations in

Urban Terrain (MOUT) facility as part of the NTF would allow

troops to hone urban warfare and counter terrorism skills

needed by both peacekeepers and troops training to counter

Muslim insurgents in Thailand\’s southern region. The NTF

concept has been embraced by a number of senior Thai leaders.

In the months and years to come, it will be worth exploring

with other governments in the region whether they would be

willing to practice combined peacekeeping operations at an

NTF facility in Thailand. An NTF in Thailand could

conceivably become one of our most effective tools to win

support for U.S. foreign policy goals in the War on Terror,

to instill respect for human rights, and to advance the

professionalization of Asian peacekeeping forces.

 

POST SEEKS GUIDANCE

 

9. (C) Given the wide range of U.S. security interests in

East Asia — ranging from counterterrorism and counter

narcotics to non-proliferation — there may be other key

foreign policy objectives we could support through our

exercise program in Thailand of which we are unaware. Post

welcomes any suggestions or guidance from addressees about

ways we can shape our program in Thailand to advance our

interests in this region.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 7, 2011 at 5:33 am

Posted in Confidential, Military

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