CAMP MURRAY, Wash. -- The commander in chief of the Royal Thai Army visited leaders of the Washington National Guard in a State Partnership Program exchange May 25.
“I made plans to come four years ago, and wanted to travel here, but had to postpone,” said Gen. Narongpan Jittkaewtae, commander in chief, Royal Thai Army. “Then we talked in Thailand and decided to make it happen.”
The visit to Camp Murray helped Jittkaewtae and his staff better understand the Washington National Guard’s force structure, training and abilities. The Royal Thai Army officers and Washington National Guard team discussed topics such as aviation subject matter expert exchanges, Stryker fighting vehicle operations and maintenance exchanges.
The Washington Army National Guard conducted its first Stryker engagements last year with the Royal Thai Army’s newly formed 112th Stryker Regimental Combat Team. The group also visited the Washington National Guard’s Joint Operations Center to learn more about the Washington National Guard’s domestic response processes. The conversation was part of an ongoing dialogue about how the Royal Thai Armed Forces support homeland assistance disaster response efforts in the Kingdom of Thailand.
“This organization encompasses everything we are training and planning on in Thailand,” said Jittkaewtae. “Homeland response, combat readiness, we even saw wildland firefighting training earlier this year.”
While the visit covered specific topics, it was another chance to nurture and support the relationship between the Royal Thai Army and the Washington National Guard.
The Washington Army National Guard is on pace to conduct 13 engagements with the Royal Thai Army this fiscal year, in addition to the participation by 230 Washington Guard Citizen-Soldiers in Exercise Cobra Gold in Thailand in March. More than 500 Guard Soldiers will join the Hanuman Guardian exercise in Saraburi, Thailand, in July.
“Our partnership is now more than 20 years old, one of the longest in the National Guard SPP,” said Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, adjutant general. “We are so excited to continue and expand this incredible relationship and share a common path forward together.”
The cost-effective Department of Defense program is administered by the National Guard Bureau, guided by State Department foreign policy goals and executed by the state adjutants general.
Through SPP, the National Guard conducts military-to-military engagements in support of defense security goals but also leverages whole-of-society relationships and capabilities to facilitate broader interagency and corollary engagements spanning military, government, economic and social spheres.