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Thai Army Chief Agrees to Strategic Vision with US Counterpart

Wilawan Watcharasakwet
Bangkok
2020-07-10
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U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville (left) meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha (right) at Government House in Bangkok, July 10, 2020.
U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville (left) meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha (right) at Government House in Bangkok, July 10, 2020.
Courtesy Thai government

The U.S. and Thai militaries will pursue joint training exercises this year with “utmost care” due to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. army chief said in Bangkok on Friday, becoming the first official visitor to the kingdom since pandemic restrictions were eased.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville and Gen. Apirat Kongsompong, the Royal Thai Army commander in chief, signed a “Strategic Vision Statement” on the second day of the two-day trip.

McConville, who also met with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, was tested for COVID-19 upon arriving Thursday, and wore a face mask during meetings with his hosts.

“Our alliance has a long and productive history, and now we are taking on 21st century challenges together,” McConville said in a post on the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok’s website.

“Our two nations typically have hundreds of military trainings and events each year, and we are working in unison with the Royal Thai Government to ensure that all of our training scenarios will be done with the utmost care with regard to the pandemic.”

Neither government released the text of the Strategic Vision Statement.

The U.S. delegation was the first to visit Thailand since lockdown measures were instituted to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected 12.3 million and killed more than 556,000 people worldwide, according to disease experts at U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

The United States is the worst-hit country, with more than 3.1 million infections, while Thailand has largely controlled the pandemic and has a cumulative caseload of 3,202.

The U.S. Embassy statement explained that the agreement signed Friday focuses on “stability, prosperity and sustainability in the Indo-Pacific region in support of an inclusive and rules-based international order.”

A Thai Army news release described it as an effort “to enhance military co-operation between the two nations to reach a high level of progress.”

The co-operation is on display each year during Cobra Gold, the region’s largest multi-nation training exercises hosted by Thailand.

Beginning in late February this year, Thailand and the U.S. co-hosted 27 countries for the 10-day exercise that combined combat training with humanitarian exercises.

Meeting with Prayuth

Thai government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat told reporters that the Friday meeting between Prayuth and McConville was “a confirmation of close ties between the two countries which [have] continued for many years, especially between the two armies which have many joint operations.”

Both countries have a common aim to “support security and mutual benefits in strengthening stability, freedom, openness and sustainability of the Indo-Pacific region,” she said.

Thailand is America’s oldest ally in Southeast Asia , where the United States is struggling to compete with China’s growing influence. Bilateral relations date back more than 200 years to 1818.

But the two nations are drifting apart strategically, with Thailand becoming more authoritarian and “increasingly siding with Beijing over Washington on key issues,” Southeast Asia security analyst Zachary Abuza wrote earlier this year in War on the Rocks, an online journal on security issues.

Apirat “defended” McConville’s visit to reporters in Bangkok on Thursday, including by saying that the United States had not asked to establish a military base in the kingdom, according to The Bangkok Post.

“Don’t stir up issues that might create conflict in the region,” the army chief reportedly said.

Prayuth took power in 2014 after the military junta he led overthrew the elected government of then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. During that period, bilateral ties cooled slightly.

Six months after a 2019 general election, in which Prayuth retained power, he and American Secretary of Defense Mark Esper signed a “Joint Vision Statement” which strengthened the “special relationship,” according to a joint statement at the time.

“The U.S. Department of Defense and the Ministry of Defense of the Kingdom of Thailand reaffirm the importance of the U.S.-Thailand defense treaty alliance for the 21st century. We note that defense ties complement all elements of our much broader relationship, including strong diplomatic, economic, and cultural ties,” the statement said.

“We are committed to strengthening all of these important partnerships in order to achieve greater peace in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond,” it added.

Comments (1)
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johnny

I do not see why anyone would want a strategic vision with the US right now.

Look at the co opted US marxist groups such as BLM that are looting and destroying all of their ally countries right now. Look at the US cult leaders of these movements, such as Nation of Islam, leading fanatic protestors who abuse their own citizens. The US has recently completely ruined the security of their own infrastructure and their allies, leaving it wide open to cyber criminals and cults that have infiltrated their oen govt and institutions. and Why? So it will all be co opted to a larger radical environmental movement that is even worse and uses child soldiers? They should have gave up after Snowden leaked how they were merely using this charade as an excuse to infiltrate, spy on and extort their ally countries and countries who want to try to take environmentalism seriously.

Why would a country want to ally with the US ? The money cults and syndicates that originated here and spread will quickly infiltrate their ally countries and destroy them from the inside. Why would these countries willing embrace a government who has allowed the business districts in their own countries and ally countries to be destroyed, looted and be laid prone to cyber attack from radical cults and larger co opts that are no better than the communists they denounce?

Real News would be asking about these things. Who in their right mind would want to embrace these radical money cults, criminal syndicates and their shadow government?

Jul 11, 2020 02:03 PM

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