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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — This year’s Cobra Gold military exercise will differ from Cobra Golds of previous years because of the Dec. 26 tsunami disaster in South Asia, event coordinators said.

Servicemembers will examine the tactical, strategic and general lessons learned as joint U.S. forces delivered relief supplies to ravaged areas in Thailand, Indonesia and elsewhere, said Marine spokesman Capt. Joe Plenzler.

“It’s a departure from previous Cobra Gold exercises because of the opportunity to discuss tsunami response, as opposed to one giant staff exercise,” Plenzler said.

A May 2-6 disaster-relief workshop will concentrate on coordination among the U.S. military, other nations and the numerous relief agencies and nongovernmental organizations that took part in the relief effort, he said.

Meanwhile, a staff seminar scheduled for May 9-12 involves servicemembers in a “high-level peacekeeping scenario,” Plenzler said.

The scenario, to take place on the fictitious island of Pacifica, is designed to recreate some of the circumstances of the tsunami relief effort, a Marine spokesman said.

Cobra Gold 2005 also includes field exercises, including communications training, vehicle maintenance and live-fire shooting in some areas, Plenzler said.

About 3,600 Pacific command servicemembers will participate, Plenzler said. An additional 2,600 Thai servicemembers and about 70 Singaporeans also are slated to take part.

Japan’s Self-Defense Force will participate in Cobra Gold for the first time since joining the exercise as an observer in 2001, according to a Japanese Self Defense agency spokeswoman.

About 25 members from the force’s three branches will take part in a command post exercise in the northern city of Chiang Mai, according to the agency.

Personnel from several other countries and the United Nations also have been invited, according to a Marine Corps news release.

The United States and Thailand have participated in the Cobra Gold exercise since 1982.

Servicemembers also are to conduct several civil engineering and humanitarian projects during the exercise, Plenzler said.

“They will help out some of the more remote areas. Those are chosen pretty carefully,” he said.

Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.

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