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Royal Thai Army and National Guard share exchange about domestic response

During a recent visit to Washington, officers from the Royal Thai Army joined Washington National Guardsmen in a Military Operations Other than War exchange, the Thai version of domestic operations.

“The Thai military has a significant role in domestic response operations in Thailand,” said Maj. Jae Kim, Executive Officer for the Washington National Guard Counterdrug Program. “They protect their borders and conduct disaster planning and response operations, all of which are very important.”

During the three day exchange, the Thai delegation learned about the Washington Military Department’s role in Domestic response. They toured the National Guard Joint Operations Center and the State Emergency Operations Center and participated in discussions about coordinating disaster response efforts among multiple jurisdictions. Wildfire missions were a consistent topic of conversation. The Kingdom of Thailand and Washington State have both seen an increase in wildfire activity over the past several years.

Many of the military assets highlighted in the exchange are part of the Washington National Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force, which utilizes their platforms to respond to state emergencies and to assist law enforcement.

Linguist support is also a consistent part of exchanges with the Royal Thai Armed Forces. Staff Sgt. Cameron Hartley, a Thai Linguist with the 341st Military Intelligence Battalion, routinely is called to support the missions.

“As a Thai linguist, these engagements are great for me to use my language skills,” said Hartley. “Just in the few engagements I have supported I have raised my language test scores from a 2/2 to a 3/2+, with more engagements I could easily continue to see my score increase, becoming more proficient in Thai.”

Hartley also believes the exchanges have helped him learn more about both organizations.

“I sit in a lot of briefings about different topics highlighting the Washington National Guard, so I have been able to take a lot of that information back to the unit and talk about the missions my soldiers haven’t heard about,” said Hartley.

In 2020, the Washington National Guard and Royal Thai Armed Forces are forecast to conduct approximately 30 engagements, varying in size, topic and locations both in Thailand and in the United States.

“We do frequent engagements in Thailand and in Washington State with our Thai partners,” said Maj. Keith Kosik, State Partnership Program Director. “Our exchanges build relationships, capacity and support Indo-Pacific Command’s efforts in SE Asia.”