A team of 36 U.S. troops from Okinawa, Japan, has been dispatched to Thailand to assist in efforts to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach stranded for nearly two weeks in a cave near the Thailand-Myanmar border, according to a report by Task & Purpose.
The troops include a search and rescue team, a survival expert and support personnel. They were deployed by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa after the Royal Thai government requested U.S. assistance on June 26, Army Lt. Col. David Eastburn told T&P.
The U.S. service members are working alongside the Thai military and an international search and rescue team to devise methods to rescue the children and their coach from the Tham Luang Cave complex.
All 13 members of the soccer team, including the 25-year-old coach, were found alive by two specially trained volunteer British cave divers on Monday. They have been in the cave since June 23.
Incessant rains continue to complicate rescue plans, making it unlikely that the boys and their coach will be able to escape the cave through the main entrance. The Thai military has considered drilling into the roof of the cavern to reach the team, but the British Cave Rescue Council warned on Monday that such a rescue would be difficult given the small size of the space where the team is located.
The U.S. troops — including airmen from the 353rd Special Operations Group and the 31st Rescue Squadron — arrived in Thailand on June 28. Since the soccer team was found, some of the airmen have assisted in setting up supply depots inside the cave, according to the BCRC.
“The American people join Thais in celebrating the dramatic discovery of the soccer team and their coach in Tham Luang Cave,” U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Glyn Davies said in a statement. “We will continue to support Thai authorities in their relentless efforts to bring the 12 players and their coach safely out of the cave and reunite them with their families.”