NAKHON NAYOK, Thailand –
Three Advisor Teams from 2nd Battalion, 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade partnered with the Royal Thai Army across Thailand during a multi-month rotation into theater beginning in October 2022.
The three teams employed into Thailand are: Company Advisor Team 5230, Maneuver Advisor Team 5221, and Logistics Advisor Team 5622, offering a multi-disciplinary advisory capability to their RTA partners.
“CAT 5230 employed to Thailand for the first time in 2021,” said Maj. Matt Lensing, team leader for CAT 5230, and commander for 5th SFAB’s operations in Thailand.
“Since that time, our team strengthened bonds with the RTA by hosting them at JBLM and Yakima Training Center,” Lensing said. “This contributed to a seamless transition during this force package”
A force package is a unit led by an SFAB maneuver battalion with functional teams attached from the SFAB fires battalion, the engineer battalion and the logistics battalion, much like a maneuver task force would be organized.
“Our persistent presence in countries like Thailand allows our Advisors to maintain continuity with our partner force and become intimately familiar with their priorities,” Lensing said.
When Lensing refers to persistent presence, he’s referring to the fact that 5th SFAB has had Advisors on the ground in Thailand almost continuously since Jan. 2021.
Advisors provide daily advising at the tactical level within the 11th Infantry Division. Sgt. 1st Class Justin Babb, team sergeant for MAT 5221, is currently advising the 111th Infantry Regiment and 112th Stryker Regiment.
“Both regiments are focused on modernization of equipment and doctrine with an emphasis on planning, resourcing, and executing dynamic live fire exercises at the platoon and company level,” Babb said.
Staff Sgt. Tate Snyder, the senior operations Advisor for MAT 5221 remarked on the exchange of information between 5th SFAB and the RTA.
“The RTA is keen to share their knowledge and experience with us,” Snyder said. “This is a team effort and both Armies are constantly finding better ways to create interoperability and ensure our partnership remains strong.”
The SFAB Logistics Advisor Team is also supporting modernization at the 11th Maintenance Support Battalion of the RTA.
“Going from supporting light infantry for decades, to adopting a vehicular platform is a big shift from a logistics perspective,” said Capt. Jose Rodriguez, team leader for LAT 5622.
“If we’re going to fight side by side on the battlefield, we need to be able to support one another not just in the close fight, but in the consolidation area as well.”
Advisors from 5th SFAB are also found at training institutions in Thailand because of their expertise in doctrine and instruction.
Staff Sgt. Anderson Pichardo, CAT 5230’s maintenance Advisor, advised at the non-commissioned officer academy.
“We were able to partner with RTA NCOs to advise and observe junior leaders during the field exercise portion of their culminating training event, Pichardo said.
“Together, we were able to exchange knowledge amongst NCOs and senior leaders.”
Pichardo also saw an increase in the interoperability between the two forces as he saw shared plans being readily executed by RTA junior leaders.
At another institution, the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, Staff Sgt. Angel Hernandez, the CAT’s explosive hazards Advisor, has been working with the CRMA Sandhurst team that will participate in the 2023 Sandhurst military skills competition at the United States Military Academy.
“Helping the CRMA cadets physically and tactically prepare for the competition has been a great experience,” Hernandez said. “The cadets are hungry for the competition and experience.”
Henrnadez discussed the future utility in the partnership.
“The opportunity to build relationships and share our expertise with so many future RTA officers will really help our interoperability with them in the long run.”
In addition to training, the RTA have welcomed Advisors into their cultural and social experiences.
“We played soccer with the RTA. It was a blast!” said Sgt. David Matthews, a logistics Advisor serving on MAT 5221.
“We split our MAT in-half so that we had RTA teammates. They are good at soccer, and I think they were impressed with our skills also,” Matthews said.
SFAB Advisors not only look to build relationships once they arrive in their partnered country, but also build upon pre-existing relationships.
Capt. Jackson Dick, MAT 5221’s team leader, reflected on how his previous experiences have allowed him to quickly integrate with his partners.
“Upon arriving to my first meeting with the RTA, I immediately found common ground with the junior officers because of their previous experiences at the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course, where I instructed and commanded,” Dick said.
“The SFAB force structure allows us to apply modular teams of expertise to best serve our partners, Lensing added. Utilizing a CAT, MAT, and LAT has allowed us to support multiple lines of effort to advance the RTA’s priorities.”
Lensing expanded on the value that a multi-functional approach added to the partnership.
“The staffing, planning, and resourcing expertise of the CAT, the tactical expertise of the MAT, and the sustainment expertise of the LAT enables us to assist the RTA in building and executing an effective way forward towards their goals.”
The 5th SFAB Advisors of Force Package 23-1 in Thailand will continue working with their partners until they return to the United States in the Spring of 2023.