NEWS | Feb. 7, 2019

Washington National Guard Aviation partners with Royal Thai Army for Exchange

By Joseph Siemandel Washington National Guard

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. -- For more than 30 years, aviation safety has been a critical element of the Washington National Guard. Pilots and crews ensure that standards are met, maintenance is completed and crews receive the best training routinely on new equipment. Last month, members of the 96th Aviation Troop Command traveled to Lopburi, Kingdom of Thailand to share lessons learned with aviation professionals from the Royal Thai Army.

"The group focused on standardization flight evaluations, instrument proficiency, inadvertent instrument meteorological condition, maintenance and just sharing best practices," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jeff Burkhardt, the officer in charge of the group. "We identified the needs and challenges with our intent to build a foundation for future engagements."

Since 2011, Washington National Guard aviation crews have partnered with the Royal Thai Army to conduct subject matter exchanges. The primary focus is to assist the Thai aviators in developing a proficient flight program. During the trip in January, the exchange focused on the UH-72 "Lakota" and UH-60 "Black Hawk."

"Our team enjoys coming out to Thailand and sharing their experience; this is amazing relationship building," said Burkhardt. "They are excited to get back later this year to continue working with the Thai aviators."

The aviation exchange is just one of many subject matter expert exchanges the Washington National Guard conducts routinely with the Royal Thai Army. The partner countries have continued to share knowledge of engineering, homeland assistance disaster response, infantry, medical and cybersecurity.