Prayuth sends army hawks to red shirt areas

Easy-going colonels go to Cambodian border

The army chief has promoted hawkish colonels to take charge in pro-Thaksin Shinawatra areas of the country and fielded easy-going commanders along the border with Cambodia.

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha signed the 99/2554 order on May 11 for the reshuffle of 157 colonels and lieutenant colonels.

Copies of the order were distributed yesterday.

Sources said the reshuffle partly reflects promotions for officers who took part in cracking down on red shirt protesters last year and was apparently to ensure order in the lead-up to the July 3 election.

The army chief appointed commanders of forces under the 7th and the 17th Infantry Regiments that are under the control of the 3rd Army which supervises the North, a stronghold of pro-Thaksin red shirt demonstrators.

Under the reshuffle order, Lt Col Wanchai Maneewan, the strategic chief of the 4th Infantry Regiment, becomes the commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 17th Infantry Regiment. Lt Col Chaidaen Krisanasuwan is the new commander of the 5th Battalion of the 7th Infantry Regiment.

Lt Col Chaicharn Teerapichetthapong, an inspector of the 4th Infantry Regiment, becomes the commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Infantry Regiment.

The reshuffle also covers key officers in the 1st Division, King’s Own Guard under the First Army, which is responsible for order in Bangkok.

They include Col Asasuek Khantirat, deputy commander of the 4th Battalion of the 1st Infantry Regiment, King’s Own Guard , who becomes the commander of the battalion in place of Col Chalat Jaemsai who has been made a deputy personnel director of the 1st Army Corps.

Col Kanchai Prachuap-aree, who took part in cracking down on red shirt protesters at Ratchaprasong intersection and on Rang Nam Road in Bangkok during the May unrest last year is promoted from the chief-of-staff of the 31st Infantry Regiment, King’s Guard, to deputy commander of the regiment.

He is expected to command the regiment later.

Gen Prayuth has assigned officers who have good ties with Cambodian army commanders to serve along the Thai-Cambodian border.

Among them, Col Nat Sri-in, chief-of-staff of the 23rd Infantry Regiment, becomes commander of the 26th Ranger Regiment Task Force. He supervises operations at Ta Kwai and Ta Muen temples in Surin province and he swaps his position with Col Adul Boonthamcharoen.

A source said Col Nat had coordinated and developed close ties with Cambodian army officers. He headed Thai delegations to negotiate with Cambodian commanders and their talks led to a truce at the Ta Muen and Ta Kwai temples.

Another Thai officer with good ties to Cambodian troops is Maj Piya Nongchana, deputy commander of the 3rd Battalion of the 23rd Infantry Regiment, who will become a lieutenant colonel and deputy commander of the 26th Ranger Regiment Task Force.

Meanwhile, in the 4th Army, Col Niti Tinsulanonda, a nephew of Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda, has been named the commander of the 44th Ranger Forces Regiment in Pattani after being in charge of the 2nd battalion of the Satun-based 5th Infantry Regiment.

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