CAVALRY CENTER, Thailand -- Idaho Army National Guard and Montana Army National Guard Soldiers from the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team conducted a live-fire exercise with Royal Thai Army Soldiers at the Cavalry Center in Thailand's Saraburi province Aug. 28, the final Hanuman Guardian 2018 training event for infantry soldiers from both forces.
Platoons from the U.S. Army's 116th Combined Arms Battalion and the Royal Thai Army's 2nd Infantry Battalion alternated iterations and were flown to the range in UH-60 Black Hawks as part of a simulated air assault before completing the 2,000-meter course using platoon, squad and individual movement techniques and tactics. The U.S. Army's 16th Combat Aviation Brigade supported the air movement for the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team Soldiers.
"I liked getting dirty," said Idaho Army National Guard Sgt. Juan Pablo Pesina. "And I liked using live ammo. That sense of liability makes you think twice."
The live-fire exercise was the culminating event of a weeklong training period between the U.S. and Royal Thai armies. Soldiers completed counter-IED training; three days of situational training exercises focusing on small unit tactics, reconnaissance, ambushes, cordon and search, and an air assault; and a combined air assault raid on a village that encapsulated most of their week's training.
"It was awesome working with the Royal Thai Army," Idaho Army National Guard 1st Lt. Jeff Dahl said. "They brought different knowledge and different skill sets to the table."
Dahl, C Company, 116th Combined Arms Battalion executive officer, was the company's acting commander during the exercise. He said working with the Thai army's 2nd Infantry Battalion's acting operation officer, Capt. Chawanon Musikadilok, and the infantry company's commander to plan missions together was a huge learning opportunity for him.
Executing the training was a great learning opportunity for the Soldiers, as well.
"Being able to visit a new country, a new climate with different terrain and weather helps each Soldier improve and know what to expect in future missions in a forging country," Pesina said. "It was fun getting to train with a U.S. ally and getting to know what tactics they use."
Pesina said that Soldiers from both countries learned from each other. Specifically, he said members of the Royal Thai Army were more vocal during movements with each other, something that helps Soldiers build cohesion and increases safety on a live range.
Hanuman Guardian 2018 was Dahl's first trip to Asia.
"I enjoyed it," he said. "The culture is great. The Royal Thai Army was very easy to work with. It was great to work with a U.S. ally and learn how they operate."
Hanuman Guardian 2018 began Aug. 20 and will end with a closing ceremony Aug. 30. The exercise builds capabilities of both armies while increasing the interoperability of U.S. and Thailand forces, longtime allies. More than 150 U.S. Army and Army National Guard Soldiers and 350 Royal Thai Army soldiers are participating in the exercise.