FORT ADISORN, Thailand – Soldiers from the headquarter companies of the Idaho Army National Guard's 2-116th Combined Arms Battalion and the Royal Thai Army's 2nd Infantry Battalion are conducting a staff exercise together as part of Hanuman Guardian 2018 Aug. 20 – 30 at the Royal Thai Army's Cavalry Center in the Saraburi province.
The staff exercise provides Soldiers from both units the opportunity to work together to complete the military decision-making process and draft an operations order for a fictional mission.
"It's fun to be able to work together with another country," said Capt. A.J. Edwards, 2-116th CAB plans officer. "It's more educational because you see different countries come together for the same purpose and to plan a mission."
Edwards said the challenge of communicating with his Royal Thai Army counterpart means he has to really think about what he needs to communicate and to do so in a simple and concise manner, which has increased his understanding of doctrine terms and military tasks and purposes.
For Capt. Chawanon Musikadilok, company commander of 2nd Infantry Battalion's 1st Riffle Company and the battalion's operations officer for the exercise, the staff exercise has helped improve his understanding of cavalry tactics since he has spent his career as an infantry officer.
"We're always willing to learn," Musikadilok said, speaking for Soldiers from both armies.
The staff exercise has also been educational for Royal Thai Army Sgt. Sangchai Sooksai, who is participating in the military decision-making process for the first time to prepare for future assignments. He is performing the duties as the battle captain and is working alongside Edwards, his U.S. counterpart.
"It's been great being able to see things come together for him between what he already knows and what he's learning here," said Edwards.
The 2nd Infantry Battalion, known as "The Queen's Guard," provides opposing forces to the Royal Thai Army during its major training exercises. The lessons learned from the staff exercise will be applied to future opposing forces missions, increasing the capabilities of the entire Royal Thai Army.
For 2-116th Combined Arms Battalion, the exercise provides another opportunity to train its staff and to prepare for future deployments. The unit has had a busy year as it prepares for its available year in 2020 as part of the National Guard's four-year training cycle.
In addition to complementing its Table XII gunnery requirements in March, the unit deployed two company task forces to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, in May and April; participated in the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team's eXportable Combat Training Capability rotation in June; and completed the brigade's staff warfighter exercise in Boise days before traveling to Thailand for Hanuman Guardian 2018.
"The exercises give our Soldiers unique opportunities to train outside of our home station," said Maj. Barrett Bishop, executive officer for the 2-116th CAB.
The unit is scheduled to attend the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, with the 116th CBCT in June 2019. Since completing a rotation in 2015, the combined arms battalion has participated in Saber Guardian 2016 in Romania and Maple Resolve 2017 in Canada.
"If we get deployed, then all the extra work will be worth it," Bishop said.
Hanuman Guardian is a bilateral army-to-army exercise that strengthens capability and builds interoperability between U.S. and Royal Thai Army forces and demonstrates the commitment of both countries to its long-standing alliance. In addition to the staff exercise, Soldiers from both countries will train together to conduct infantry operations and improve their skills in counter-improvised explosive devices operations, battlefield medical treatment and aviation capabilities.