Thailand (MNN) -- Over 8,500 soldiers are reportedly
taking part in Southeast Asia's largest multinational military exercise: Cobra Gold.
A service member with the Royal Thai Navy helps build a multipurpose room at the Ban Cham Kho School, in Rayong, Thailand.
(U.S. Marine Corps Combat Camera photo by Cpl. Hilda Becerra/Released)
In the 35th annual war game, military personnel hail from seven nations: Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and the U.S.
U.S. and Thai officials kicked off the 19-day Cobra Gold exercise yesterday with an opening ceremony at the Royal Thai Navy Command Center. As explained here
, Cobra Gold began as a training drill to improve teamwork between U.S. and Thai troops.
This year, Cobra Gold was used by U.S. officials
to urge their Thai counterparts toward democracy.
"As deep and broad as our partnership is today, it will grow stronger still when, as the prime minister has affirmed, Thailand returns to elected governance," said U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, Glyn Davies, in yesterday's opening ceremony.
"With a strengthened, sustainable democratic system, Thailand's regional leadership role--and our alliance--can reach its full potential."
Vision Beyond Borders is looking for skilled Thai soldiers, too, but not for the same reasons as the Cobra Gold coordinators.
Thai and U.S. Army Soldiers practice tactical maneuvers during exercise Cobra Gold 2006.
(DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Efren Lopez, U.S. Air Force/Released)
"There are still a lot of dangers, a lot of booby traps, land mines and active fighting. Our contacts are hiring soldiers to protect them, and the kids, and all the caretakers [during the journey]," shares VBB spokeswoman Dyann Romeijn.
In a few weeks, VBB's contacts plan to move 90 orphans and their caretakers from refugee camps in Thailand to a safer children's home in Myanmar (also known as Burma). Learn why their partners are making the move in this article.
"They don't want to be a part of that mass exodus [in 2017]…. They feel like the [Burma] Army will be more prepared for a move like that," Romeijn shares.
"A lot of times they place land mines around these villages and trails to make it difficult for ethnic tribes to move around."
While the group's final destination--the children's home in Burma--is safe, the journey itself will have danger around every corner. They may face death, but the kids aren't scared.
"These kids are some of the strongest kids, spiritually, that I've ever seen," says Romeijn. "They pray for the soldiers that persecute them, and they forgive them; they're just such an example of the true love of Christ."
(Photo courtesy VBB)
Along with your prayers for safety and protection, Vision Beyond Borders needs a little financial help to underwrite the trip's costs. Click here to help VBB cover the costs of this relocation.
"To move everybody will [cost] about $5,000--hiring soldiers, all the transportation, and all the food that they will need during the two weeks of traveling."