The Kingdom of Thailand is the United States’ only treaty partner in mainland Southeast Asia, a treaty ally since 1954, and a major non-NATO ally since 2003. The Royal Thai Armed Forces have strengthened their interoperability with U.S. forces by making significant purchases of U.S.-origin defense articles. Thailand has more than $3 billion in active Foreign Military Sales (FMS) cases. FMS sales notified to Congress are listed here, and significant implemented sales include: Stryker infantry carrier vehicles; AH-6i light attack reconnaissance, UH-60M Black Hawk, and UH-72A Lakota helicopters; F-16A/B Block 15 aircraft Mid-Life Upgrades; and RGM-84L Harpoon Block II and Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles.
From FY 2019 through FY 2021, the United States also authorized the permanent export of more than $605,899,499 in defense articles to Thailand via Direct Commercial Sales (DCS). The top categories of DCS to Thailand were Fire Control, Laser, Imaging, and Guidance Equipment ($12.74 million); Firearms ($320,000); and Military Electronics ($260,000).
The U.S.-Thai security relationship extends well beyond transfers of defense articles and services, and is particularly supported by people-to-people ties through professional military education, military exercises, and regular troop engagements. The Thai military highly prizes U.S. military education, and in 2022 sent its personnel to 244 U.S.-sponsored training and education courses, with attendance at U.S. military service academies being the most consequential of these. For its part, the United States likewise sends military personnel to Thai mid-career military staff colleges. Thailand and the United States co-host Cobra Gold, the region’s largest and longest running multinational exercise. While exercises scaled down significantly during the pandemic, we expect a return to robust engagement, including a full-scale Cobra Gold Exercise in 2023.
Thailand received $2.68 million in International Military Education and Training (IMET) funding for use in FY 2021, and $2.2 million in FY 2022. IMET provides professional military education and training to military students to increase professionalization, build capacity in key areas, enhance joint interoperability, create a better understanding of the United States, and grow lasting military-to-military relationships. This assistance is key to establishing relationships with future leaders in the Royal Thai Armed Forces. Thailand also received $14 million in FY 2021 Foreign Military Financing (FMF) through the Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative (SAMSI) and the Advanced Targeting Development Initiative (ATDI) for maritime security and other projects. In 2022, the U.S. provided Thailand $25 million in FMF for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief efforts, Maritime Domain Awareness, technical and professional training.
Thailand has been a significant troop-contributing country to UN peacekeeping missions since 1958. As of June 30, 2022, Thailand had a total UN peacekeeping troop contribution of 301 personnel (Police: 15, UN Military Experts on Mission: 8, Troops: 273, Staff Officers: 5) supporting United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), and United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). In 2021, Global Peace Operations Initiative funding procured and delivered deployable unit equipment for use at the PKO training center to assist Thailand’s peacekeeping units. At this training center, the UN is implementing a Military Expert on Mission (UNMEOM) course to train military officers for serving in UN peacekeeping operations as military observers, military liaison officers, and military advisors. Additionally, Thailand sent a platoon to participate in the annual multinational peacekeeping exercise co-hosted in 2022 with Indonesia.
The United States and Thailand have the following defense-related agreements: The 1950 Agreement Respecting Military Assistance, The Mutual Security Act of 1951, the Agreement Regarding Grants under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) of 1983, Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), and the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreements (ACSA) of 2014. The United States conducted over 400 military to military engagements and exercises with Thailand annually prior to COVID, all of which are specifically approved by the Royal Thai Government.
According to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, the Kingdom of Thailand is affected by mines and unexploded ordnance as the result of past conflicts on its borders with Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Malaysia. Since 1993, the Kingdom of Thailand has received approximately $21.1 million in U.S. assistance to support humanitarian mine action and conventional weapons destruction. In 2021, the Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Program, in partnership with the Thailand Mine Action Center (TMAC), continued to evaluate earth-tilling equipment capable of clearing anti-personnel and anti-tank landmines. INDOPACOM supported Thailand to reduce the social, economic, and environmental impact of landmines and ERW through mine detection and clearance and assisted mine survivor casualty care by furnishing HMA-related equipment, education, training, and technical assistance.
For further information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at PM-CPA@state.gov, and follow the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs on Twitter, @StateDeptPM.