A delegation from the Royal Thai Army visited Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the surrounding area March 8 to learn more about the Stryker vehicle platform that is frequently used by Soldiers from the installation.
“Strykers enable a very rapid transition from movement to maneuver, in order to bring the infantry squad, the heart of the formation, to points of advantage, with fully integrated fires at the ready, said Sgt. 1st Class Derik Kearns, who serves as a lead instructor for the Stryker Leader Transition Course at JBLM.
Kearns has been an infantryman in the Army for about 15 years and took the lead in providing an overview of the Stryker’s capabilities to the delegation, led by Royal Thai Army Lt. Gen. Apirat Kongsompong, First Army Area commander in Thailand.
“Briefing (General Kongsompong) of the Royal Thai Army was my first opportunity to brief a foreign military official,” he said. “The Bayonet Academy was asked by the 7th Infantry Division command team to assist in whatever way we were able with (the delegation’s) visit, and we were happy to do so; I hope (they) enjoyed (their) visit to JBLM and the Pacific Northwest.”
The Bayonet Academy is a collection of leader training and certification courses, to include the Stryker Leader Transition Course, according to Kearns. The academy was established in 2014 at the request of I Corps’ 7th Inf. Div. on JBLM, often referred to by its alumni and Soldiers as the Bayonet Division, which earned the academy its name.
In addition to the Stryker Leader Transition Course, the academy also offers the Bayonet Warrior Athlete Program, Division Ranger Assessment Program, and Army Combatives levels one and two.
“(The 7th Inf. Div.) command team feels very strongly about Soldier and leader training, development and combat readiness,” Kearns sad. The programs available at the Bayonet Academy are a reflection of that.”
According to Kearns, the academy has provided instruction and certification to Soldiers and leaders from JBLM, Fort Hood, Texas, Fort Wainwright, Alaska, and National Guard units from Washington, Oregon and California.
To add to the list, the academy has now provided cursory instruction to the Royal Thai Army.
Delegation members had an opportunity to ask questions and ride in the vehicle to get a sense for how it handles.
“(General Kongsompong) asked specifically about the training, maintenance and responsibilities of leaders in Stryker units,” Kearns said. “(He) expressed concerns about the weight of the vehicle over uneven and soft terrain, and I explained that with proper training and employment, Strykers are more than capable of dealing with a very wide variety of operating environments.”
In addition to the delegation’s visit to the Bayonet Academy, they also spent time with the 1st Special Forces Group and Washington National Guard here to see how the organization’s Soldiers train for an array of operations.