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Armed forces form unified defence plan

The Royal Thai Armed Forces has approved the use of the Chakrabongse
Bhuvanart national defence plan which involves deploying troops of the
three armed forces to guard the Thai-Cambodian border from Sa Kaeo,
Chanthaburi and Trat.

Thai Supreme
Commander Songkiti Jaggabatara (L) with Cambodia’s Commander-in-Chief
Pol Saroeun during his visit to Cambodia on 24th August 2009.

A military source said Songkitti
Jaggabatara, the supreme commander, had approved the Chakrabongse
Bhuvanart plan as the national defensive strategy for the eastern
region.

The source said Thai troops mobilised near the 4.6
square kilometre disputed area around Preah Vihear Temple amounted to
about 15,000. This was about the same number of Cambodian troops that
have been deployed in the area.

Under the
Chakrabongse Bhuvanart plan, the Army’s Burapa Task Force will operate
along the border in Sa Kaeo and Prachin Buri provinces. The Suranaree
Task Force will cover the lower northeastern provinces with the Phra
Viharn 54 Operation Plan.

The navy’s marines in the border
protection force in Chanthaburi and Trat and other armed forces have
been placed on standby. Altogether, more than 23,000 marines and air
force troops will be deployed.

The source said the air force will send fighter jets to patrol along the border, while supporting land operations.

The
air force could deploy the F16 fighter jets from Nakhon Ratchasima to
the border area near Preah Vihear in Si Sa Ket province in less than 10
minutes.

ACM Itthaporn Subhawong, the air force commander, said
even though the air force was prepared to deploy its F16 fighter jets,
he believed it would not need to do so as confrontations between the
two countries are “only small skirmishes”.

He said he still believed the two countries could settle the dispute through peaceful negotiations.

On
continual skirmishes in the disputed area, Defence Minister Prawit
Wongsuwon said Thai forces will fire back whenever Cambodia troops fire
at them to protect the country’s sovereignty.

Gen Songkitti
insisted Thai troops had never opened fire at Cambodian troops first.
“Troops of both countries don’t want to fire at each other – we both
lose,” he said.

Bangkok Post

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Categories: Local News
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