An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | Oct. 5, 2023

WAANG, ORANG, and Royal Thai Air Force participate in first ever Enduring Partners engagement

By Master Sgt. Steph Sawyer and Lt. Col. Alyson Teeter, Washington Air National Guard

Airmen from the Washington Air National Guard’s 141st Air Refueling Wing and the Oregon Air National Guard’s 142nd Wing participated in the first ever Enduring Partners engagement with the Royal Thai Air Force Sept. 11-21 at Korat Royal Thai Air Base in Thailand.

Enduring Partners 2023 was a National Guard-sponsored State Partnership Program engagement aimed at improving combat readiness and combined and joint interoperability between participants while enhancing strong defense relations and the State Partnership Program between the Washington Air National Guard and Thailand.

This engagement included participation from approximately 230 U.S. Airmen, five F-15Cs from the ORANG’s 142nd Wing, two KC-135 Stratotankers from the WAANG’s 141st Air Refueling Wing, and 20 F-5, JAS-39, and F-16 fighters from the Royal Thai Air Force.

Brig. Gen. Gent Welsh, commander of the Washington Air National Guard and EP23 creator, oversaw the execution of the engagement and was impressed by the teamwork demonstrated by the American and Thai servicemembers.

“During the exercise, between U.S. and Thai airmen, there was a lot of learning and working through problems together,” Welsh said. “Strengthening that alliance and becoming better allies and partners… It was probably one of the best experiences in my career.”

142nd Wing Commander, Col. Todd Hofford, reflected on the value of partaking in an engagement of this caliber and what it meant for the airmen involved.

“The overall goal and objective of this was of course training, relationship building, but [also] experience,” said Hofford. “It was really important to get my Airmen there, primarily for the adventure, to get into the Southeast Asia Indo-PACOM theater, be able to operate and do their jobs in a foreign country, and then come back. Those experiences are valuable.”

Pilots gained critical training experience through combined Dissimilar Air Combat Training or DACT, air-to-air refueling, and ground-controlled interception.

Other Airmen worked in supporting roles on the ground, ensuring the ability to safely and efficiently execute the day-to-day mission.

Maj. Jon Taylor, the assistant director of operations for the 142nd Operations Group, was heavily involved in the planning of this engagement. Having recently transferred from active duty Air Force to the Air National Guard, he brought years of experience in planning and executing events like EP23 to this endeavor. Taylor spoke of the importance of these kinds of engagements and the benefits they hold for participants.

“[Training engagements] like this bring us and our foreign partners to a common level,” said Taylor. “There’s a language barrier to get through. There’s also a cultural barrier, so essentially, participating in exercises like this with them builds the relationship between the two countries.”

In addition to the daily flying operations, there were a number of events that took place throughout the engagement which were aimed at enhancing relationships between U.S. and Thai people.

The Washington and Oregon Air National Guard, along with the Royal Thai Air Force, visited Nong Phluang Yai primary school in Korat during the first week of the engagement.

The visit to the school gave military members the chance to engage with local community members in an effort to build positive relationships and trust.

Military personnel brought soccer balls, volleyballs, toys, and educational materials to distribute to the children at the school. A Royal Thai Air Force band played as some military members and children ran out to play soccer and volleyball.

Staff Sgt. Darius Carlton, a host aviation resource manager with the 141st Operations Group, reflected on the opportunity to interact and have fun with the kids during the visit.

“This is by far one of the coolest things I have been able to do in the military,” said Carlton. “Those kids really wore me down.”

The second week of EP 23 culminated with separate visits from Robert Godec, United States Ambassador to Thailand; Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, Director, Air National Guard; and Chief Master Sgt. Maurice Williams, Air National Guard Command Chief.

Welsh commented on what a rare honor it was to have Mr. Godec on a flight during this engagement.

“Having the ambassador on a flight, taking the time that he did out of his busy schedule and going up there with us was really cool,” Welsh said. “Very rarely – at least to my knowledge – do any events rise to the level of the ambassador attending.”

EP23 concluded with 123 total sorties flown across 11 missions and seven days of flying.

Overall, Welsh noted that EP23 was executed exactly as planners had hoped, and planning for future iterations is already in the works.

“We were able to exercise multi-state, multinational, much the same way that we’d planned,” Welsh said. “It was really cool, kind of a proud dad moment.”

CONNECT WITH USINDOPACOM

ENGAGE & CONNECT MORE WITH PACOM

                                                 

IN THE USINDOPACOM NEWS
U.S. 7th Fleet, Blue Ridge Team Conduct Maneuvering Exercise with French Navy
240614-N-PH222-1064
PHILIPPINE SEA (June 14, 2024) - U.S. Navy 7th Fleet Flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), left, conducts a maneuvering exercise with the French Navy Aquitaine-class frigate FS Bretagne (D 655) in the Philippine Sea during Valiant Shield 2024, June 14, 2024. Exercises such as Valiant Shield allow the Indo-Pacific Command Joint Forces the opportunity to integrate forces from all branches of services and with our allies to conduct precise, overwhelming multi-axis, multi-domain effects that demonstrate the strength and versatility of the Joint Force and our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. U.S. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with allies and partners to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan M. Breeden)
June 17, 2024 - Sailors assigned to both U.S. 7th Fleet and the 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) conducted a maneuvering exercise with the French Navy Aquitaine-class frigate FS Bretagne (D 655), during Valiant Shield 2024, June...

Hawaii Air National Guard Hosts Sentry Aloha Joint Exercise
An A-10 Warthog and F-16 Fighting Falcon from the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Test Center, an F-16 from the 177th Fighter Wing, an F-35A Lighting II from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, and an F-22 Raptor, operated by the 199th and 19th Fighter Squadrons, assemble during exercise Sentry Aloha 24-2 June 6, 2024, above the island of Hawaii. This iteration of the exercise involved approximately 1,060 participants and more than 40 aircraft from nine states,  operating out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, and Onizuka Kona International Airport, Keāhole.
June 17, 2024 - The Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing concluded the latest iteration of its ongoing fighter exercise, Sentry Aloha 24-2, June 12 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam...

Strengthening Military-Civilian Relations and Partnerships on Global Health Security
Australian Rear Adm. Sonya Bennett, Australian Defence Force surgeon general, gives opening remarks to the Military Civilian Health Security Summit co-hosted by the Australian Defence Force, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in Sydney, June 16, 2024. Established in 2018, the MCHSS symbolizes a unified commitment to address global health security challenges and provides an opportunity for participants to share valuable insights and enhance regional readiness by improving coordination and collaboration between military and civilian entities. USINDOPACOM is committed to enhancing stability in the Indo-Pacific region by promoting security cooperation, encouraging peaceful development, responding to contingencies and deterring aggression. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Austin Riel)
June 17, 2024 - SYDNEY — The Australian Defence Force and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command co-hosted the Military Civilian Health Security Summit in Sydney, June 16-17, bringing together 23 Indo-Pacific partner nations, international organizations,...

U.S.-Philippine littoral live-fire training success
U.S. Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 214, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, assemble a GBU-32 joint direct attack munition onto a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II with VMFA-214, MAG 13, 3rd MAW, before a littoral live-fire exercise off the coast of Ilocos Norte and Zambales during Marine Aviation Support Activity 24 on Clark Air Base, Philippines, June 15, 2024. The LLFX showcased the integrated command and control capabilities of the U.S. and Philippine Armed Forces in a territorial defense scenario featuring a coordinated bilateral and maritime strike. MASA is an annual Philippine-U.S. military exercise focused on mutual defense, strengthening relationships, and rehearsing emerging aviation concepts. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Shaina Jupiter)
June 17, 2024 - On June 15, 2024, elements of the Philippine and U.S. armed forces conducted a live-fire event for Marine Aviation Support Activity (MASA) 24. MASA is an annual Philippine-U.S. military exercise taking place in the...

U.S. Coast Guard hosts cadets from Japanese Coast Guard Training Ship Kojima
U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia Sector Guam and Maritime Safety and Security Team Honolulu personnel stand for a photo with over 40 cadets from the Japanese Coast Guard training ship Kojima during their visit to Guam on June 12, 2024. The event marked a significant moment of international cooperation and camaraderie between the two maritime services. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Josiah Moss)
June 17, 2024 - The U.S. Coast Guard hosted Capt. Kazushi Sakae and over 40 cadets from the Japanese Coast Guard training ship, Kojima, during their visit to Guam on June 12, 2024...