Coup Leads U.S. to Curtail Thai Military Engagements
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 24, 2014 Following a coup by the Thai military, the United States has curtailed military-to-military engagement with the Kingdom of Thailand in accordance with U.S. law, Pentagon press secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a written statement today.
The Royal Thai Armed Forces took over the country Thursday after earlier imposing martial law. Kirby called on Thai military leaders to “end this coup and restore to the people of Thailand both the principles and the process of democratic rule, including a clear path forward to elections.”
Thailand is one of America’s oldest allies. The first treaty between the nations was ratified in 1837, and today Thailand is a “major non-NATO military ally.”
Kirby referenced this long association in his statement. “While we have enjoyed a long and productive military-to-military relationship with Thailand, our own democratic principles and U.S. law require us to reconsider U.S. military assistance and engagements,” he said.
In response to the coup, the United States has canceled the ongoing exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training 2014. The visit of U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Navy Adm. Harry Harris, which was set for next month, has also now been canceled.
In addition, the United States has rescinded an invitation to Royal Thai Armed Forces Commander General Thanasak Patimaprakorn to visit U.S. Pacific Command in June.
“We will continue to review additional engagements as necessary until such time that events in Thailand no longer demand it,” Kirby said. “We urge the Royal Thai Armed Forces to act in the best interests of their fellow citizens by ending this coup and restoring the rule of law and the freedoms assured those citizens through democratic principles.”
Thailand is one of 23 nations scheduled to participate in the Rim of the Pacific Exercises that begin June 26 and last through August. Thailand also hosts the annual Cobra Gold exercises, one of the largest exercises in Southeast Asia. The 2014 iteration of Cobra Gold ended in February.