Cobra Gold is a joint US/Thai military exercise conducted annually in Thailand since 1981. Cobra Gold 2000 involved around 13,000 US service members and 7,000 Thai soldiers, and involved Singapore personnel for the
first time. In 2001, it expanded into a combined exercise called 'Team Challenge 01' (TC-01), combining Australian and Philippines forces from Tandem Thrust and Balikatan.
The exercises are carried out by the Navy and Marines, combining land, air, naval, and amphibious operations. A big part of the exercises is drug interdiction, as neighboring Burma is a major drug manufacturing country,
supported by Chinese forces. The 2001 land excercises took place in the Chiangrai Mountains, which is home to some 135 tribal villages of the Akha people. These natives are in danger of losing their farming land, because of fighting, and also drug interdiction exercises going on for two months of the year in April and May.
These exercises, now carried out for 20 years are dubbed as a 'great benefit' for all the US allied countries in the region, and there are of course many photos of marines with food and medical supplies. But it is certainly obvious that these humanitarian activities are simply a facade for
a not necessarily benevolent imperialism.
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