PartnershipsSoutheast Asia

Royal Thai Army, U.S. Army Soldiers participate in historic all-female airborne course

Master Sgt. Theanne Tangen/U.S. Special Operations Command Pacific

The Royal Thai Army (RTA) invited United States Army Soldiers to participate in its first all-female Basic Airborne Course conducted by the Special Warfare School at Camp Erawan in Thailand’s Lopburi province from July 18 to August 9, 2023.

Nearly 100 female RTA Soldiers from Airborne Class 345 earned their Parachutist Badge after completing four weeks of rigorous training, including four static line jumps, one with combat equipment and one at night. The course concluded with an 8-kilometer ruck march from the drop zone.

Royal Thai Army and U.S. Soldiers participate in a historic all-female airborne course.

“This badge represents your persistence, courage and discipline to protect the country, which is the pride of the Royal Thai Army Airborne,” Gen. Narongpan Jittkaewtae, commander in chief of the RTA, said during the graduation ceremony. “May I remind those who wear this badge on your left chest, you are Airborne, you are capable of static line operations, ready for airborne operations.”

1st Sgt. Sarah Meyers, U.S. Army Forward Support Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), served as the U.S. Army Special Operations Forces jumpmaster mentor during the course. Meyers has 15 years of airborne operations experience and is the only female jumpmaster in her battalion.

“Being a part of a historic all-female jump feels empowering and significant, as it represents breaking barriers while working to improve combat effectiveness while promoting equality, diversity and inclusivity,” Meyers said. “It inspires a sense of pride, camaraderie and a feeling of contribution to a positive change.”

Meyers presented her U.S. Master Parachutist Jump Wings to a standout RTA Soldier as additional motivation and encouragement. “I am so proud of them all,” she said. “They are now officially my Airborne sisters.”

Women accounted for about 8% of Thailand’s 300,000 active-duty military personnel and 17.3% of the U.S.’s 1.3 million active-duty personnel as of 2021.

Thailand and the U.S. established diplomatic relations 190 years ago and have been security treaty allies for nearly 70 years.

“The U.S. can help recommend how we can do better, and they can see how we do things differently, which creates an exchange of information between us,” said 2nd Lt. Akararin Yucharoen, an RTA Special Warfare Command instructor. “We have a great partnership.”

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