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Members of the Combat Center’s Western Area Research Test and Evaluation Center show Lieutenant Gen. Surapun Wongthai and Rear Admiral Sanyalak Rungsampan new equipment being tested March 18, 2011, at Camp Wilson.::r::::n::

Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Anderson

Desert testing attracts Thai VIPs

25 Mar 2011 | Lance Cpl. Sarah Anderson

The harsh climate of the Mojave Desert can not only take its toll on the Marine or sailor working all day in the sun, but it also puts military equipment and vehicles through the ringer, making the Combat Center an ideal place to test equipment.

Lieutenant Gen. Surapun Wongthai, director of Cobra Gold Exercise and director of joint operations at the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters in Changwatthana, Bangkok, Thailand, and Royal Thai Navy Rear Admiral Sanyalak Rungsampan, deputy director of Joint and Combined Exercise Planning, visited Camp Wilson March 17 and 18, 2011, to observe equipment tests at the Western Area Research Test and Evaluation Center.

“We are working in great cooperation with WARTEC,” Wongthai said. “We feel this cooperation we have is of mutual benefit.”

Unlike the tropical climate the general and rear admiral are accustomed to, the harshness of the desert allowed them to get a new perspective on how equipment will hold up in harsh, foreign environments.

After learning about other past and current equipment tests, the VIPs toured Camp Wilson’s experimental forward operating base.

They viewed experiments such as the Soil-Air Heat Exchanger, Deployable Renewable Energy Alternative Module, solar powered flood lights, water cooling system, and various forms of field-expedient foam insulations.

All of these projects were designed to help the war fighters better accomplish their missions.

“We [WARTEC] exist for that 18-year-old in the foxhole,” said John Bower, the senior research scientist with WARTEC. “We test and assess new technology to help them do their job better, quicker and faster. We let the Marines tell us what works and we listen.” As they toured the area, the visitors gathered ideas to take back with them, Wongthai said.

“We hope to adopt the idea of WARTEC for our [Defense Science and Technology Department],” he added.

Wongthai happily offered an invitation to the U.S. military to use the tropical climate of Thailand.

Cooperation between allies is important for mission success, Bower said.

“What’s going on in Japan highlights why we as a Corps need to be engaged with our Far East partners,” Bower said. “With them coming out here and being engaged helps us understand them as well as them understanding us, what we can help with and provide and what we can’t.”

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