FORT THANARAT, Thailand (June 25, 2012) -- Thailand and the United States, two strong and long-time allies, are developing a robust partnership to better respond to natural and man-made disasters. The Royal Thai Army (RTA) and United States Army Pacific (USARPAC) Bilateral Army Exercise 2012 (BAE 12) is a 45-day exercise.

BAE 12 provides an outstanding training venue for Army forces from the RTA, USARPAC, the Washington Army National Guard, the Guam Army National Guard, and the Center for Civil Military Relations.

A wide variety of challenging and diverse activities will be conducted to improve the capacity to quickly respond to internal and regional contingency missions.

General Daugherty from the Washington Army National Guard and Special Colonel Weerachan Jitkhantha from the Royal Thai Army spoke at the opening ceremony and stressed the importance of interoperability between the two armies in order to protect life, property, and expedite disaster recovery.

It's a real honor to run this exercise in partnership with our long time friends and allies stated Lieutenant Colonel Mike Ake, an operations officer at the combined Thai and American Exercise Support Group. "If our friends need help, we want to be one of the first ones on the ground -- in Washington we have our share of disaster with floods and earthquakes," said Ake.

Over the course of the exercise, the long time allies will exercise disaster relief staff planning procedures, conduct medical training, life saving and search and rescue events and also construct a District Community Center and Kindergarten in the rural underserved communities of Huay Plub and Nong Tray.

The Washington Army National Guard and the RTA Infantry Center are executing the events in and around Pranburi, Thailand.

"I know they [the Americans] worry about us," said Maj. Patriop Tayparsit of the Royal Thai Army, "but we worry about them too. We want to make sure they are getting everything they need while they're on the ground."

With a shared desire to train, prepare and learn from one another, it appears that the exercise is off to a good start. BAE 12 continues a valuable and long standing State Partnership Program that the Washington Army National Guard has with the Kingdom of Thailand.