U.S.-Thai Hanuman Guardian military exercises kick off



The longstanding close cooperation between the United States and Thai armed forces were underscored last week with the launch of the Hanuman Guardian series of bilateral military exercises following on the heels of the recently concluded naval Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Exercise (CARAT).

Unlike the annual Cobra Gold exercises that have grown from a bilateral training to a massive operation involving militaries from a dozen or more countries, Hanuman Guardian is smaller in scope, more specialized and exclusive to the Thai and U.S. armed forces, fostering even more close-knit relations between the two countries. The current exercises are the 13th time Hanuman Guardian has been held.

The exercises, which run from June 27 through July 8, allow the two armies to exchange experiences in tactical operations with an emphasis on maintaining security, disaster relief and peacekeeping. Also included are search and rescue operations, a medical seminar, medical training, military dog training, and engineering exchanges. Just 748 Thai and 429 U.S. soldiers are taking part in the specialized trainings in Saraburi and Lopburi provinces in central Thailand.

“Hanuman Guardian is part of a series of exercises in the region that strengthens our relationships, builds readiness and stresses our capabilities together,” said Maj. Michael Taylor, the operations officer for the 2nd Stryker Brigade of the U.S. Army. “When … complete, our forces will have gained a better understanding of our partners in the region and how to work with them in the future.”

Taylor spoke at the opening ceremony at Fort Thanarat in Pranburi where Thai and American flags waved and dignitaries turned out to review the troops. Brig. Gen. Brian Alvin, Deputy Commanding General for the United States Army Reserve, and Lt. Gen. Thakonkiat Nuanyong, Director General of the Royal Thai Army Training Command, presided over the event.

During the 10-day training, the Royal Thai Army will provide humanitarian assistance to several communities and increase their disaster response capabilities. They will also train on improving aviation maintenance procedures, small unit mounted and dismounted infantry tactics, counter-improvised explosive devices techniques, as well as expand on lifesaving medical skills. Units from the Washington National Guard will train Thai soldiers on ground and air, search and rescue capabilities. 

“Part of Hanuman Guardian 13 is to teach the Thai Army how to do mountain rescue work, which will include high-angle work that requires them to lower people and litters down cliffs, then raising them back up on rope systems,” said one of the Special Forces instructors. “The Thais are very serious and very motivated, they pick up the technical skills very quickly. Plus they work together and with us very well.”

Image credit: www.pacom.mil