KORAT ROYAL THAI AIR FORCE BASE, Thailand (AFNS) — Airmen from the U.S., Thailand, and Singapore are stepping away from flight operations to strengthen relationships here with local Thai communities this week.
The combined Airmen from the U.S. Air Force, Royal Thai Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force are participating in exercise Cope Tiger, a large force air employment exercise aimed at strengthening interoperability between the three nations. Along with launching aircraft together from airfields across Thailand, the Airmen are focused on reinforcing relationships through community outreach programs and cultural exchanges at nearby secondary schools.
“This is the type of thing that makes it all worth it for me,” said Master Sgt. Jason Adkins, Cope Tiger Customs liaison officer from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. “I’ve always enjoyed reaching out and volunteering … and what better way to do it than with my counterparts and everyone here participating in Cope Tiger.”
Sergeant Adkins and more than 70 others visited two local schools in the Nakhon Ratchasima Province of Thailand, and more Airmen are scheduled to conduct similar combined activities Mar. 19 in Udon Thani Province.
Airmen have participated in sporting activities, English discussions and cultural exchanges and were able to view traditional Thai dances and remote controlled aircraft demonstrations.
“I would like to thank all of you for making these events happen — especially the RSAF and USAF exercise directors who continue to give full support for all activities, ” said Group Capt. Thawonwat Chantanakon, Royal Thai Air Force exercise director.
According to the group captain the schools chosen are in the exercise training area and the objectives of the activities revolve around exchanging experiences to strengthen relationships.
Airmen from the Florida National Guard’s 125th Fighter Wing took the lead in providing aircrew, maintenance and support personnel to participate in engagements in the Nakhon Ratchasima Province. The National Guard Airmen are currently staged out of Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base for the exercise and together, raised more than $1,000 to purchase much needed athletic equipment for the schools.
“We are happy and grateful for all donations by Cope Tiger [participants],” said Kandjana Budsadeewong, Watprommarat School student. “We welcome all exercise Cope Tiger [participants].”
Kandjana continued that her school is comprised of 269 students and uses a student-centered teaching method that enables learning experiences that allow for open discussion and dialogue.
“These children are the future,” said Sergeant Adkins. “I see these students and think of my own family.
“It is evident through the smiles of the children and blessings received from the teachers and staff how important it is for us to be here,” said Sergeant Adkins. “This has truly been an amazing experience for me, one that’ll I’ll be sharing with my friends and family when I return home.”
Cope Tiger aims to enhance readiness and combined interoperability between U.S. Forces, allies and partners within the Pacific region. More than 1,600 Airmen and civilians are participating in this year’s engagement, including approximately 430 U.S. service members and civilians.
U.S. Air Force