Army in Betong-Yindee!

Due to the unrest situation in Southern Thailand,the Southern Border Provinces Peace-Building Command (SBPPC) was set up in October 2004 and the Fourth Army sent out security forces combating the insurgency and safeguard the security of the region. The army units were dispersed throughout various provincial districts of Southern Thailand.

The army, stationed in Southern Thailand, is from the oldest and largest of the military services, the Royal Thai Army, with its headquarters in Bangkok. The army operated through four regional army commands. The First Army, headquartered in Bangkok, is responsible for the country’s western and central provinces and the capital city. The northeastern quadrant is the territorial home of the Second Army, and its regional headquarter is in Nakhon Ratchasima. The Third Army, with headquarter in Phitsanulok, is responsible for the northern and northwestern parts of the kingdom and the Fourth Army, with its headquarter in Nakhon Si Thammarat, is responsible for southern Thailand region.

Although the army’s primary mission was to defend the country against aggression by foreign ground forces, for many years invasion was considered an unlikely possibility by Thai civilian and military leaders and it is believed that such threats, if any, probably could be circumvented politically without need for a military response. Consequently, from the 1960s field action by army units concentrated mostly on dispelling insurgency and providing internal security.

Since the unrest situation in Thailand, the Forth army’s job has not been easy. Many army units were sent to the South to carry out their duties. One of their visible duties is checking or scrutinizing the passing vehicles and people. We can find many checkpoints along the main highways connecting the various towns, for example highway from Betong town to Yala. There are also soldiers stationed in various parts of the different towns in Southern Thailand and Betong is no exception.

Checkpoint before entering Betong Town from Yala Road

Soldiers carry out their duties

Roadside surveillance security system/Soldiers on guard

As Betong is relatively safe as compared to other areas of Southern Thailand, we can often find soldiers wandering around in the town in a more relaxed manner. They are mixing around quite well with the local people here and their coming certainly bring some “liveliness” to the small business operators in Betong. Just imagine, there are more than 700 soldiers coming to station around this little town and the suburb areas. Each day their foods and daily consumables create income for the local people here. Every afternoon, we can see army cars parking in front of the market to buy foods.

For some of the tourists who enter Betong and the business operators who need to travel in and out, the soldiers may cause a little inconvenience to them. However, for the hawkers in town and food sellers in the market, the soldiers are very much “Yindeetonrup!” (welcome).

Buying lunch from the market

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