News / Asia

US Renews Military Pact With Thailand

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, left, and his Thai counterpart Sukampol Suwannathat shake hands after signing the 2012 Joint Vision Statement for the Thai - US Defense Alliance, Bangkok, November 15, 2012.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, left, and his Thai counterpart Sukampol Suwannathat shake hands after signing the 2012 Joint Vision Statement for the Thai - US Defense Alliance, Bangkok, November 15, 2012.
Ron Corben
The United States and Thailand have renewed long standing military ties with an agreement signed in Bangkok during a stopover by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on his Asian tour. The new agreement is aimed at strengthening the Thai military’s role in regional and maritime security.
 
The guard of honor greeted Panetta Thursday at the Thai Defense Ministry as the two countries reaffirmed a 50-year-old military agreement dating back to the Vietnam War.
 
Thai Defense Minister Sukampol Suwannathat told reporters the agreement did not create any new initiatives or privileges between the two countries.      
 
Secretary Panetta said the pact was aimed at confronting the new challenges from natural and manmade disasters as well as transnational threats and maritime security issues seen over recent years.
 
“Today the minister and I moved this alliance into the 21st Century by signing a joint vision statement that will help pave the way for even stronger military to military ties as we adapt to the shared threats and challenges that we will face together in this region and in the future,” he said.
 
The agreement covers areas of regional security in Southeast Asia, supporting stability in the Asia Pacific region and enhancing the readiness of joint armed forces operations and a strengthening of the bilateral defense relationship.
 
Panetta said the agreement aimed to boost the Thai military’s role in regional security as well.
 
“As we focus on these areas of cooperation, I want to convey that the United States remains committed to helping the Thai military further develop its already impressive capabilities so that it can assume even greater security responsibilities in this region, particularly in maritime security and in humanitarian relief and in peacekeeping operations,” Panetta said.
 
The 1962 agreement was written at the time of war and political instability in Southeast Asia and as a counter to Communism’s rise of influence. Thailand played a pivotal role during the Vietnam War years, with Thai airbases used to launch U.S. air attacks.
 
The alliance comes as the United States refocuses on Asia and with China’s growing influence in business and military ties with Thailand. Panitan Wattanayagorn, a political scientist at Thailand's Chulalongkorn University, says keeping a balance between the U.S. and China will be a challenge for Thailand.
 
“It is quite challenging for Thailand to make sure that she doesn’t move too much into the U.S. orbit at the same time continue to engage with more activities, especially in the security area, with the Chinese in the years to come. And that has to be kept up in order to make sure that the Chinese don’t feel left out,” Panitan said.
 
Panitan said overall the renewed pact should be “quite positive” for Thailand. China has been invited with the U.S. and Thai forces in the annual military exercises in Thailand known as ‘Cobra Gold’.
 
Analysts say the pact’s renewal also reflects the realities and challenges Thailand is likely to face in the near term with an economy now heavily industrialized and urban, a far cry from the dominant agricultural society of half a century ago.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs