Senior Leaders visited Thailand and Laos as part of an ongoing effort to build APCSS influence in the region through outreach education. APCSS director, retired army Lt. Gen. Ed Smith, and Lt. Col. John Gasner, head of APCSS’s Alumni and Outreach Division visited the region in May 2006.In Thailand, Lt. Gen. Smith discussed APCSS in-residence programs as well as outreach opportunities with key government officials including General Winai, the Secretary General for the National Security Council, General Kasemsak, the Deputy Permanent Secretary for Defense, General Pathompong, the Commanding General of the National Defense Studies Institute, LTG Piti, the Superintendent of the National Defense College, and LTG Kompol, the Director of the Armed Forces Education. As a result of these discussions, Lt. Gen. Smith generated interest in partnering with the National Defense College on combining seminar discussion during related security courses at each institution through Video Teleconferencing.

In addition to meeting with government officials, Lt. Gen. Smith proudly helped kick-off the Thailand APCSS Alumni Association by participating in the inauguration ceremony and presenting General Kasemsak, the association’s first president, with an official APCSS alumni association charter. More than 50 Thai APCSS alumni were part of the celebration. U.S. ambassador to Thailand, Ralph Boyce, helped launch the alumni association by participating in the ribbon cutting ceremony. He also spoke about current security issues in the region.

In Laos, Lt. Gen. Smith met with the U.S. Ambassador, Patricia Haslach, her embassy country team and key members of Lao government including Mr. Southam, the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Europe-Americas Department, Colonel Khamkeo, the Chief of Cabinet of the Ministry of Defense, and Mr. Songnavong, the Deputy Director of the Institute of Foreign Affairs.

In his meetings with these officials, LTG Smith discussed the opportunity for outreach education and the process by which Laos participants are selected to attend APCSS courses. He emphasized one of APCSS’ new directions is to expand the opportunity to attend APCSS to representatives outside of the two primary ministries, Foreign Affairs and Defense. An interesting discovery about Laos alumni revealed that many of them had been promoted since returning to Laos and placed in positions such as Consul General and Defense Attaché, where their responsibilities include interfacing with representatives from various other countries.

According to Lt. Col. Gasner, “Overall, the trips to Thailand and Laos were very successful; and these were but the first two legs of LTG Smith’s regional travel. His next stops include executing outreach educational events in Indonesia and Malaysia.”

Stay tuned for the results of these events in a future discussion of regional outreach.