FORT POLK, La. — Soldiers with 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) participated in Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) rotation 21-01 alongside troops assigned to the Royal Thai Army’s 1st Special Forces Regiment from Oct. 14 to Oct. 27, 2020.
“JRTC is the Army’s premier training venue in building readiness for large-scale combat operations,” said a Special Forces officer with 1st SFG (A). “Training here with our Thai SOF partners is a tremendous opportunity to develop interoperability with one of our most important regional security partners against crucial security challenges in the future.”
Interoperability is the capability where military units or equipment operate in conjunction with one another. Throughout the collaborative exercise, Special Forces Soldiers and Thai special operations forces conducted several reconnaissance and direct action missions.
During the rotation’s initial mission, U.S. and Thai SOF were tasked with dismantling the anti-air defense network in a village to allow for the movement of friendly forces. Together, they eliminated the opposition force and fulfilled mission objectives.
“The value we share is friendship, which is how we are able to work together even though we’re different,” said a team leader with RTA’s 1st Special Forces Regiment. “We learned our differences in technique with regard to tactical operations and thought processes.”
Exercises like these allow Thai SOF to plan and coordinate with partners, conduct operations together, and work with new U.S. military equipment, he continued. Partnered training is beneficial because solutions to challenges like bridging culture and language can be solved right now.
One of the largest obstacles to successful mission planning between U.S. and Thai partners is language.
“They’re thinking through the same problems we are and even if we can’t understand them, we do find those breaks where we can translate and then ultimately align our objectives,” said a Special Forces medical sergeant with 1st SFG (A). “We’re seeing how to better integrate ourselves with the Thai and how sometimes letting them run the show and letting them plan in Thai…and getting them to back brief us is more effective than going back and forth.”
Through this exchange, the Royal Thai Army offered that they could improve their own military operations with the experience gained and that the U.S. could do the same.
“The personal relationships we build in these crucible training events is just the beginning,” said a Special Forces officer with 1st SFG (A). “Being part of this training really lends itself to continued relationships between the U.S. and (the Kingdom of Thailand).”