By Joseph Siemandel | Washington National GuardApril 23, 2019
CAMP MURRAY, Wash. - As part of the State Partnership Program, the 898th Brigade Engineer Battalion regularly conducts major exercises with their counterparts in the Royal Thai Army. But it's the regular contact that shares best practices and lessons learned throughout the year that helps the 898th create strong bonds with their fellow engineers.
"We continue to build meaningful relationships across the Royal Thai Engineer Regiment, and built off last year's success," said Maj. Mike Boitano, executive officer of the 898th Brigade Engineer Battalion. "The Thais have said they want more."
Boitano led a group of four Washington National Guard engineer professionals during a subject matter expert exchange from March 18 to 22 in Ratchaburi, Kingdom of Thailand. During the five-day exchange, the group discussed field fortifications, obstacles, engineer reconnaissance, water purification, mine warfare, cover and concealment as well as improvised explosive device awareness and how to defeat them.
"The Thai engineers are very interested in learning the most recent changes and updates to our doctrine," Boitano said. "We talked about bringing equipment in future exchanges to provide a more hands-on training environment."
In late 2018, the engineers began engaging about a possible exchange and then held a small one to establish a baseline for expectations and desires of the Thai counterparts.
"We already have discussed the next exchange with the deputy commander of the Royal Thai Army Engineer School House," Boitano said. "He wants to increase the level of participation for both organizations and build more relationships. We have also discussed including the combat engineers into Exercise Cobra Gold."
The Washington National Guard's 176th Engineer Company have been engaged in Cobra Gold for a number of years, building schools in remote areas of Thailand.
"We have engineers that build and others that destroy things; this would just be an additional skill set we could bring to the state's partnership program with Thailand," Boitano said.