Defense

November 16, 2012

U.S., Thai leaders move defense alliance into 21st century

Tags:
Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service


Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Thai Defense Minister Sukampol Suwannathat affirmed their nations’ long-term military partnership in Bangkok Nov. 15, updating a vision for the alliance whose most recent statement, in 1962, focused on fighting communism.

Before attending the signing ceremony on the manicured grounds of the Ministry of Defense, Sukampol accompanied Panetta as the secretary inspected the Thai guards of honor.

Later, after signing the 2012 Joint Vision Statement for the Thai-U.S. Defense Alliance, both men made statements to a room packed with journalists.

Panetta said he is honored to visit Thailand as the U.S. secretary of defense, and he thanked Sukampol for his hospitality.
“I also wanted to come here as secretary to affirm very strongly that the United States-Thailand defense alliance remains strong and remains one of our great alliances in this region,” he added.

Thailand will be increasingly important in collective security efforts to promote peace and prosperity in the region, Panetta said, expressing appreciation to the minister and the Thai military for close cooperation and generous support offered to American forces over the years.

“Recognizing that our future prosperity and … security are closely tied to that of the Asia-Pacific region, President [Barack] Obama has committed the United States to working even more closely with our friends and allies in this region,” Panetta said, “deepening our engagement through diplomacy, through trade and through stronger military to military relations.”

The president looks forward to further discussing these issues when he arrives here later this week to visit Bangkok on a trip that also will include visits to Rangoon, Burma, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

“America’s engagement with Thailand is a crucial part of these broader efforts,” Panetta said.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the communiquÈ signed in 1962 by Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Thai Foreign Minister Thanat Khoman, he added, an agreement that committed the nations to halting the spread of communism.

“Today the minister and I moved this alliance into the 21st century,” Panetta said, “by signing a joint vision statement that will help pave the way for even stronger military-to-military ties as we adapt to the shared threats and challenges that we will face together in this region and in the future.”

According to the new vision statement, U.S.-Thai defense cooperation will focus on four key areas:

  • Partnership for regional security in Southeast Asia;
  • Supporting stability in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond;
  • Bilateral and multilateral interoperability and readiness; and
  • Relationship building, coordination and collaboration at all levels.

Panetta’s visit is the culmination of a year’s worth of reinvigoration of the strategic part of the two nations’ defense relationship, a senior defense official said in a background briefing earlier today for reporters traveling with the secretary.
On the operational side of the relationship, the militaries of the United States and Thailand are deeply engaged in massive exercises such as the Thai-led Cobra Gold, the world’s largest multilateral military exercise and premier training event in Asia, the official said.

Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, called CARAT, is another area of cooperation, he added. This is a series of bilateral military exercises between the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. And Timor Leste joined the exercise for the first time this year.

The Thais like the engagement and they want more, the official said. “There’s a big demand signal from the Thais to do more training, to come to our schools, to engage on the operational side and the classroom side as well as the strategic part,” he added.

The relationship has also been reinvigorated, the official said, by a series of meetings and visits over the past several months between officials of each nation.

Panetta had a short encounter with Sukampol this year at the Shangri-La Dialogue regional security conference in Singapore. Then Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Bangkok in June and later received a reciprocal visit by his counterpart, Gen. Thanasak Patimaprakorn.

Other visits included one to Bangkok in July by Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, and a visit to Thailand last month by Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command. And in Washington last month, the U.S.-Thailand Defense Strategic Talks put Defense Department officials together with a senior-level Thai delegation, the official said.

This summer, Thai defense officials held a two-day conference on their role in the U.S. defense strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, he added, and came away from it with interests that led to the updating of the Thai-U.S. defense alliance.

“As we focus on these areas of cooperation,” Panetta said today, “I want to convey that the United States remains committed to helping the Thai military further develop its already impressive capabilities so that it can assume even greater security responsibilities in this region,” particularly in maritime security, humanitarian relief and peacekeeping operations.

“Thailand is an important ally in the Asia-Pacific region,” the secretary added, “and we look forward to strengthening that alliance to ensure the friendship and security of both our nations in the future.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines November 24, 2014

News: Hagel said to be stepping down as defense chief under pressure - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down under pressure, the first cabinet-level casualty of President Obama’s Democratic majority in the Senate and a beleaguered national security team that has struggled to stay ahead of an onslaught of global crises. Afghan mission for U.S....
 
 

News Briefs November 24, 2014

Fog forces five U.S. choppers to land in Polish field Officials say that that fog forced five U.S. Army helicopters to make an emergency landing in a Polish field and spend the night there, the second such incident since September. The U.S. Army said 15 soldiers were moving equipment to their base in Germany Nov....
 
 
Air Force photograph by Samuel King Jr.

Navy’s first F-35C squadron surpasses 1,000 flight hours

Air Force photograph by Samuel King Jr. An F-35C Lightning II aircraft piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Chris Tabert, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, flies the squadron’s first local sortie. The F-35C is the carrier va...
 

 
boeing-SC-787

Boeing South Carolina begins final assembly of its first 787-9 Dreamliner

Boeing has started final assembly of the 787-9 Dreamliner at its South Carolina facility. The team began joining large fuselage sections of the newest 787 Nov. 22 on schedule, a proud milestone for the South Carolina team and a...
 
 
Lockheed Martin image

Ball Aerospace equips Orion mission with key avionics, antenna hardware

Lockheed Martin image Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. is providing the phased array antennas and flight test cameras to prime contractor Lockheed Martin for Orion’s Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), which is an u...
 
 

Salina, Kansas, recalls anniversary of shuttered base

It has been 50 years this month since the announcement that Schilling Air Force Base was closing rattled Salina residents. The Salina Journal, which carried news of the closure in its Nov. 19, 1964, editions, reported that the economic disaster then spared no part of the community – real estate, retail, civic involvement, church attendance,...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>