By Capt. Robert TaylorAugust 31, 2018
After 10 days of training between the U.S. Army and the Royal Thai Army, Hanuman Guardian 2018 concluded Aug. 30 with a ceremony at the Royal Thai Army's Cavalry Center in Thailand's Saraburi province.
Throughout the annual exercise more than 150 U.S. Army and Army National Guard Soldiers trained with, learned from and built enduring relationships with the 350 Royal Thai Army Soldiers who participated.
"I'm extremely proud of each and every one of my Soldiers," said Idaho Army National Guard Col. Douglas Smith, Hanuman Guardian 2018 exercise director. "They exceeded all of my expectations in terms of enthusiasm, efforts towards training, and fully immersing themselves in building relationships and bilateral exchange."
Hanuman Guardian is the fourth in the United States Army Pacific's Pacific Pathways 18-2 series. The exercise strengthens the capabilities of both forces and builds interoperability between the U.S. and Royal Thai armies. Thailand is a key U.S. partner and one of its most enduring allies in Asia. Corporation between both countries benefits both countries and the region.
Soldiers from both forces worked together to complete a battalion staff exercise; conduct infantry operations; and to improve their knowledge on counter-improvised explosive devices, battlefield medical treatment and aviation capabilities. American and Thai Soldiers worked with their assigned counterparts to plan and execute training together.
"It's fun to be able to work together with another country," said Capt. A.J. Edwards, 2-116th Combined Arms Battalion plans officer. "It's more educational because you see different countries come together for the same purpose and to plan a mission."
The 116th Calvary Brigade Combat Team's 2-116th CAB, comprising of Soldiers from both the Idaho Army National Guard and the Montana Army National Guard, and the Royal Thai Army's 2nd Infantry Battalion completed training for both its staff officers and line companies. The units' Headquarters and Headquarters Company trained on the military decision-making process while infantry Soldiers spent most of the week in the field.
Infantry Soldiers completed counter-IED training and three days of situational training exercises focusing on small unit tactics, reconnaissance, ambushes, air assault and cordon and search. Squads from both countries completed an air assault using military operations on urban terrain training. Platoons conducted a 2,000-meter live-fire exercise using platoon and squad tactics during their final training event.
"Being able to visit a new country, a new climate with different terrain and weather helps each Soldier improve and know what to expect in future missions in a foreign country," said Idaho Army National Guard Sgt. Juan Pablo Pesina. "It was fun getting to train with an U.S. ally and getting to know what tactics they use."
LEARNING NEW WAYS
Medics from multiple Idaho Army National Guard units trained with medics from the Royal Thai Army. Medical training focused on the 68W combat medic sustainment course and was beneficial to medics from both forces.
"They don't have the same equipment we do," said Capt. Eric Hanson, a physician assistant from the Idaho Medical Detachment and the medical officer-in-charge. "It was good to learn new techniques and different ways to do the same thing."
For example, Idaho Army National Guard Sgt. Abraham Coombs said he learned how to tie a tourniquet from Thai medics using the ring from the top of a Coke bottle and a new way to tape an IV to a patient.
Both medics agreed the use of translators slowed down the pace of training but they still enjoyed working with their counterparts.
"Some things translate without words," Coombs said.
COMMAND AND CONTROL
Soldiers from the Idaho Army National Guard staffed the Exercise Command Group and fulfilled the responsibilities of the Army force (ARFOR) headquarters under the 25th Infantry Division for the exercise's seventh iteration. Elements of the U.S. Army's the 19th Special Forces Group, the 10th Field Hospital, I Corps and U.S. Army Pacific Command supported the training rotation. The Washington Army National Guard's Special Operations Detachment -- Pacific trained with rangers from the Royal Thai Army during the exercise and the U.S. Army's 16th Combat Aviation Brigade provided air support.
Soldiers from several Royal Thai Army units participated in Hanuman Guardian 2018, including elemetns from its Cavalry Center, 2nd Infantry Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, medical department, ranger and aviation units.
Hanuman Guardian 2018 demonstrates the commitment of the United States and the Kingdom of Thailand to its long-standing alliance. The countries are celebrating 200 years of friendship throughout 2018.
Army National Guard units have conducted similar exercises in Australia, Indonesia, and Malaysia during the Pacific Pathway 18-2 series and will complete a training rotation in Japan in September.