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News | Feb. 6, 2023

AFRIMS attend Royal Thai Army anniversary celebration

By Ricky Agyekum U.S Army Medical Directorate- Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences

Members from the U.S Army Medical Directorate- Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences attended the Royal Thai Army Medical Department 123rd Anniversary Ceremony, Jan. 9.

The celebration brought together 225 attendees and professionals in military medicine from around the local region representing RTA, RTAMED, Royal Thai Navy, Royal Thai Police, private industry, government, and academia. Through its cooperation with the RTA over the past 62 years, AFRIMS has played a significant role in enhancing the U.S and Thailand capabilities and medical skills.

 “The research conducted by AFRIMS has aided in the creation of vaccines and therapies that promote military, national, and global health; it has saved millions of lives in the region and around the globe,” Whitten said.  “The partnership allows the U.S. military to be better postured for the potential health threats that service members may face while deployed in Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific region.”

The event was hosted by the RTA Surgeon General Wuticha Isara to honor the contribution of RTAMED in combating infectious diseases, responding to combat casualties, and advancing field care capabilities. The celebration was chaired by the RTA Commander-in-Chief, Gen. Narongpan Jittkaewtae and featured several events including an Outstanding Medical Awards ceremony, a Buddhist Religious Ceremony by monks, and a visit to the Association of Southeast Asian Nation Center Military Medicine Hall.  Representatives from AFRIMS were invited to join the ceremony as the only foreign military presence.

“[AFRIMS] participation in the celebration strengthens current relations and creates new ones that will enable future collaboration between various institutions,” said Maj. Taylor Whitten, Executive Officer, AFRIMS. “These activities can facilitate cooperation on a range of issues, including public health, medical research, and can contribute to the overall stability and security of the region.”

Another highlight on the day was a simulated medical evacuation and treatment demonstration, where the RTA Medical Emergency Response Team demonstrated their ability to respond to combat casualties. 

“The most striking aspect was [RTAMED’s] dedication to advancing their field care capabilities,” Whitten said. “They are using the most up to date medical evacuation equipment and techniques, and finding ways to implement new technology, such as drones, to address the ever-evolving battlefield.”

AFRIMS members presented a memento to the Surgeon General on behalf of the U.S. Ambassador. Isara expressed interest in further collaboration with the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence to advance their medic programs through the Army’s Combat Medic curriculum.

Following a full day of events, Whitten reflected on the experience and time spent with attendees.

“It was a great opportunity to meet senior RTA and RTAMED leadership and celebrate their accomplishments in military medicine,” Whitten said. “It also provided a platform to meet other government and non-government collaborators in a social setting.”