Dunford Re-Energizing Military-to-Military Relations With Thailand

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  • By Jim Garamone
  • DoD News, Defense Media Activity

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will seek to expand military-to-military contacts with Thailand when he meets with the nation’s chief of defense, the defense minister and the prime minister here tomorrow.

The United States put a hold on military-to-military contacts with Thailand following a military coup in May 2014. The contacts have been re-energized now that the Thai government has scheduled free elections later this year.

During his visit to Thailand, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford will meet with Thailand’s chief of defense, Gen. Tarnchaiyan Srisuwan, Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Advancing U.S.-Thailand Military-to-Military Relations

“My primary purpose to come here is to develop a personal relationship with the chief of defense,” Dunford said. “It is to continue to foster strong military-to-military relationships and, in this case, … not only advance our military relationship, but establish a personal relationship with him, too.”

Relations between the United States and the Kingdom of Siam began in 1818. Thailand is one of five treaty allies of the United States in the Pacific; the others are Australia, South Korea, Japan and the Philippines.

“It is important to maintain relations with Thailand, because they have outstanding visibility in the maritime domain in a critical part of the world,” Dunford said. “They have been a good partner overall, and … our strength globally and particularly in the Pacific is our network of allies and partners.”

Military-to-military relations form an important aspect of America’s relationship with other nations, the chairman said, and not just with allies and partners.

“I should have military-to-military relations with everybody from a treaty ally [like Thailand] to a potential adversary,” Dunford said. “Now, the reason I have military-to-military relations with an ally is to develop interoperability and to be prepared to fight together should that be required. The reason I have military relations with a potential adversary is to mitigate the risk of miscalculation and make sure we have open lines of communication in case we have a crisis.

“And then, where we are with countries that fall in between those two extremes,” he added, “the character of the military relationship … is a reflection of the relationship politically between our two countries.”

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meets with Thai Army Gen. Ponpipaat Benyasri, chief of Joint Staff, after arriving in Bangkok, Feb. 6, 2018. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro