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    U.S., Thai Military Conduct Demining Training during HMA 19-1

    Thai Armed Forces Students Complete HMA 19-1 Instruction

    Photo By Cpl. Adam Montera | U.S. Marine Corps and Royal Thai Armed Forces students and instructors pose during the...... read more read more



    Story by Lance Cpl. Adam Montera 

    U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific

    U.S. Marines and Sailors with the 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, participated in the Humanitarian Mine Action program 19-1, a semi-continuous event with several iterations recently held in Ratchaburi, Kingdom of Thailand, from 18 November through 22 December 2018 to instruct members of the Royal Thai Armed Forces in demining tactics, techniques and procedures.

    As part of the HMA program, Marines and Sailors work to relieve human suffering and the adverse effects of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) on civilians in affected areas around the world. HMA 19-1 seeks to equip the Thai military with more explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) skills and work toward the establishment of an independent Thai Military EOD training program. The secondary goal of the HMA program is to promote peace in the region and advance U.S. national security objectives in the Indo-Pacific region. The HMA program has been working with the Royal Thai Armed Forces since 2013.

    Thailand has approximately 350 square kilometers of land contaminated with landmines, with 220 square miles being located on the Cambodian border, which is detrimental to the economy, agriculture and human life, according to Thai Army Lt. Gen. Sittpol Nimnvan, director general of the Thailand Mine Action Center (TMAC).

    U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific (MARFORPAC) is tasked by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command to provide humanitarian mine action activities, operations and training for HMA to support Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, said U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Henry W. Soukup, the MARFORPAC explosive ordnance disposal officer-in-charge. “The ultimate goal is to train the Thailand Mine Action Centre on EOD levels one though three so they are completely self-sufficient for conducting their humanitarian mine action missions.”

    From Nov. 18 through Dec. 22, U.S. Marine Corps engineers, explosive ordnance disposal technicians and U.S. Navy corpsmen partnered with Thai instructors to teach a variety of demining subjects to several classes of Thai students. These classes included Tactical Combat Casualty Care, UXO identification, technical and non-technical survey methods and disposal of emplaced explosives.

    Prior to this training, Thai service members with basic EOD knowledge were recruited for the Thailand Mine Action Center, but approximately 50 percent of recruits had no actual hands-on experience, said Lt. Gen. Nimnvan. The HMA program allows Thai service members to start gaining hands-on expertise in locating and demining operations with the support of the U.S. Marines.

    The students were taken through the full demining skill set, both through classroom lectures and discussions, alongside demolition ranges and practical application. Students also learned how to provide immediate care to those injured by unexploded ordnance and how to work with the local population to locate any UXO. For each step in the demining process, students went through several classroom sessions on the subject matter and proper procedures. Afterward, they rehearsed practical application in the field to gain valuable hands-on experience and familiarization for possible real-world scenarios.

    The instructional weeks saw the students repeatedly run the gamut of demining operations, starting with the initial locating of where UXO could be emplaced and cordoning off the area. Once hazardous areas were marked and established, they searched and cleared those areas while marking located mines and explosives. The various levels of EOD training helped the service members learn how to properly identify what type of explosive they were working with and the best way in which to dispose of and neutralize the threat. The supplemental class on tactical combat casualty care also helped each student become a greater asset to their team and be able to better handle any mishaps during the demining process.

    Staff Sgt. Austin T. French, an explosive ordnance technician with 9th ESB and an instructor for HMA 19-1, also noted that working together with the Thai instructors also allowed for an exchange of information and techniques between EOD experts from different countries. Training like this builds upon new or pre-existing skill sets, and interactions help build bonds and friendships between the countries involved.

    According to Soukup, more than 400 Thai service members have successfully been trained in demining and EOD since the HMA program’s inception in Thailand, and those who completed the HMA program can not only execute their demining duties more effectively and safely, but are able to pass that knowledge on to future TMAC recruits.

    “We are excited and proud to assist Thailand in building a permanent self-sustaining demining and EOD Program,” Soukup said.



    Date Taken: 12.22.2018
    Date Posted: 02.20.2019 20:41
    Story ID: 311349
    Location: RATCHABURI, TH 

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