By Joseph Siemandel | Washington National GuardDecember 4, 2019
CAMP MURRAY, Wash. - Officers from the Royal Thai Army joined the Washington National Guard 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 in November, the Thai delegation learned about the Washington Military Department's role in the domestic response. They toured the National Guard Joint Operations Center and the State Emergency Operations Center. Topics discussed included coordinating disaster response efforts among multiple jurisdictions, and wildfire missions. The Kingdom of Thailand and Washington State have both seen an increase in wildfire activity in 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.
"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 plus; with more engagements I could easily continue to see my score increase, becoming more proficient in Thai."
Hartley said 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 will conduct about 30 engagements in Thailand and 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 Southeast Asia."