RATCHABURI, Thailand -- U.S. and Thai Army Engineers met to enhance defense professionalism by sharing best practices in combat engineering during the "2nd U.S.-Thai Field Engineering Subject Matter Expert Exchange" held at the Royal Thai Army (RTA) Engineer School, March 18-22.
Commanding General of the RTA Corps of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Anusorn Punyaboon, opened the ceremony with an inspection of troops followed by opening remarks. "The purpose of the exchange is to strengthen relations and future cooperation between Thai and U.S. Army Engineers by sharing knowledge in combat engineering related tasks," Punyaboon said.
Chief of International Cooperation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Pacific Ocean Division, and representative for the U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC), Col. Evan Ting, joined a team of Washington Army National Guard (WAARNG) Soldiers as an observer, guest briefer, and planner for future collaborations. Ting provided his insight into the significance of the engagement stating, "This exchange fosters a strong partnership between U.S. and Thai Engineers, enhances interoperability between our armies, and is a great example of the National Guard State Partnership program strengthening our allies and partners to promote a free and open rule-based Indo-Pacific."
Deputy J3, Joint Staff, WAARNG, Lt. Col. Tamara Brathovde provided her response to the exchange. "I couldn't be more excited to have been a part of this engagement. One of our goals was to share a wide variety of engineering topics, falling into combative and non-combative engineering capability sets. I think we were able to achieve that, as well as to convey that we are committed to enabling the RTA's ability to prepare for future peace-keeping deployments and other contingencies," she said.
RTA Directorate of Operations and Intelligence, Lt. Col. Nadech Boonnak said RTA Engineers see working with U.S. Army engineers as critical to their professional development. "We are highly interested in enhancing our Topographic and Geospatial skillsets, as well as other field engineer tasks, and we ask the U.S. Army to include RTA engineers to military exercises such as Cobra Gold and Hanaman Guardian," said Boonnak.
In January 2019, USARPAC hosted the U.S.-Thai Steering Committee Meeting (SCM) at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. Representatives from across the U.S. Department of Defense and the RTA attended the SCM, which is part of a planning process to develop long-term collaboration plans between the two armies. Ting remarked, "It is gratifying to see the engagements executed after being shaped at events like the SCM, and it's been an honor to have been part of the relationship building and professionalization of both the RTA and Washington Army National Guard engineers."
The next planned engagement includes engineer interoperability during Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response missions to be held later this year.