News / Asia

Burma Observers Participate in US-Led Military Exercises in Thailand

U.S. Marines jump off an amphibious assault vehicle after hitting the ground at a joint military exercise on Hat Yao beach in Chonburi province eastern, Thailand, February 10, 2012.
U.S. Marines jump off an amphibious assault vehicle after hitting the ground at a joint military exercise on Hat Yao beach in Chonburi province eastern, Thailand, February 10, 2012.
Daniel Schearf
Burma’s armed forces are for the first time participating in a United States-led military exercise in Thailand.  Known as "Cobra Gold", it is the largest annual multi-national exercise in Asia and the U.S. hopes Burma's participation will promote professionalism in its troubled ranks. 

The annual U.S.-led military exercises bring together seven nations to exchange military know-how and strengthen regional cooperation.

The full participants include militaries from Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore.  Other militaries send representatives to watch portions of the exercises including, for the first time, two officers from Burma's military.

Host Thailand invited Burma.  The joint maneuvers include an amphibious assault with attack jets, helicopters and boats as well as evacuation, jungle warfare training and live fire exercises.

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Kristin Kneedler says Burma's participation in the 10 days of training exercises will be limited, but the U.S. supports the engagement, which she calls “significant.”

"The Burmese will observe the staff planning process and the military medical portions of this year's Cobra Gold.  You know, the United States, we're pursuing a whole of government approach to advancing reform in Burma," Kneedler stated. "And, this includes engaging the Burmese military as an important stakeholder in and a potential contributor to the reform processes."

Burma's military ran the government for decades, suppressing democracy, destroying the economy and committing widespread human rights abuses.

But in 2010 it allowed the first election in 20 years as part of a military-drafted "road map to democracy."  

It controversially sidelined the main opposition, the National League for Democracy, and brought a military-backed party to power.

But President Thein Sein, himself a former general, surprised critics by ushering in a series of dramatic political and economic reforms.

The United States and others responded by suspending most economic sanctions and engaging in high-level dialogue.  

President Barack Obama in November became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Burma.

Despite the reforms, Kneedler says the U.S. is still cautious when it comes to Burma's military.  But, she notes the military exercises have a positive effect on participants.

"Well, the United States, we were supportive of a cautious and calibrated approached to the engagement with the Burmese military. And, you know, events like Cobra Gold really encourage armed forces to institutionalize civilian control, accountability and the protection of human rights."

The Cobra Gold military exercises are being held for the 32nd time in Thailand.

Kneedler says this year they will focus on strengthening response to crises such as humanitarian disasters.

Burma's military is still criticized by rights groups for abuses and excessive use of force.  
Since December, the military has used fighter jets and helicopters to attack ethnic Kachin rebels in northern Burma, on the border with China. The heavy fighting has displaced more than 80,000 people and prompted international calls for a cease-fire and Beijing-brokered peace talks this month.

And, despite political reforms, the military-drafted constitution guarantees the armed forces a quarter of all seats in parliament, ensuring it maintains a large degree of power.

Thai and Burmese officials were not immediately available for comment on the military exercises or Burma's participation.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid