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Outgoing army chief says no plans for US base on Thai soil

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: Outgoing army chief chief Apirat Kongsompong - Bloomberg

Outgoing army chief Apirat Kongsompong, is denying that the US is seeking to establish a military base on Thai soil. At a press briefing, Apirat said that Thai and US troops have only carried out joint military drills, code-named Cobra Gold, and nothing more. The drills are a multinational exercise held annually in Thailand.

Apirat insisted the US did not ask to use Thailand as a stage for a base but admitted that US troops left behind some of their military equipment deployed during the drills, but says reporters shouldn’t read too much into this. However, Singapore has a longstanding agreement with Thailand, giving it access to a military area in Sai Yok district in the western Kanchanaburi province, in order to reportedly conduct military training. That agreement is renewed every 3 years.

Apirat also defended the 2 day visit by the US Army Chief of Staff James McConville and his delegation after an activist criticised the government for not sending the visitors into the mandatory quarantine that was imposed for all visitors. He says the delegation will be tested for Covid-19 before and upon arrival to Thailand. Tests will be performed by doctors from the Public Health Ministry, Phramongkutklao Hospital, and Thai Airways International staff. These procedures will become a model for future visits by foreign delegations.

“Don’t stir up issues that might create conflict in the region.”

The US delegation are the first group of foreigners to officially visit Thailand since the country began lifting Covid-19 restrictions. McConville will meet Apirat and PM Prayut Chan-o-cha today and tomorrow.

In a related development, General Narongpan Jitkaewthae is widely expected to replace Apirat as army chief during the annual military reshuffle at the end of September. A military source told Bangkok Post that the reshuffle dominated a pre-session discussion shortly before a meeting between top military officials and the Royal Thai Police yesterday.

The source says that this time around the reshuffle will involve high ranking personnel whose names were brought up during the pre-session discussion. The source said a list of high ranking officers up for promotion will likely be presented to the chief of the defence forces next week before it’s forwarded to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, who also serves as defence minister.

Apirat said yesterday he will retire at the end of September, adding he will no longer be active in handling government affairs after that month. He denies he will seek to extend his tenure as army chief. Apirat has also been rumoured to have long term political aspirations.

”I will pass the baton to the next army chief on Sept 30 when my duties will come to an end. There is absolutely no need to prolong my tenure.”

SOURCES; Bangkok Post | Bangkok Post

 

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Bubba Lee

    Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    The radical left pro-communist media’s influence is becoming extremely strong in Thailand. Many of Thailand’s journalists are simply puppets of the CCP and constantly casting negative points of view concerning American activities and interactions with Thailand officials. While praising the CCP for every trivial interaction or donation, as wonderful humanitarian acts of kindness and generosity. The Chinese “Belt and Road Initiative” is being praised as a great benevolent act of generosity and prosperity for Thailand. This may well be, however, it’s not simply for Thailand’s benefit that these initiatives are taking place. The benefit may be mutually beneficial but is far from the act of charity.
    Moderate journalists’ are being intimidated, ostracised, and threatened with unemployment for writing pro-capitalist and pro-democracy articles concerning Americans. The Americans want to do business with Thailand, they want to maintain a long-standing military alliance and to aid and assist Thailand from a forceful invasion by other countries.
    Yes, America is actively seeking to stop and contain the aggressive criminal communist activities of the CCP. However, America welcomes fair and equitable trade with all countries. Americans have always considered Thailand a great friend and ally in Asia, what has changed? Did Americans cause this horrible COVID-19 Pandemic? Do Americans seek to limit Thailand’s freedoms of speech or assembly? Do Americans seek to prevent Thailand’s economic growth or prevent them from having good jobs and prospering? The answer to these questions is just the opposite.
    Most of the Thai people know that America is a great friend of Thailand. Now that Hong Kong is no longer a free democratic capitalistic government, but just another communist governed city, most free world businesses and banking systems will leave. Sure they will continue to do business with communist China but from within free democratic safe havens such as Thailand. Is there any wonder that the left-wing press is so intent on damaging America’s image in Thailand?

  2. Avatar

    009

    Sunday, July 12, 2020 at 12:16 am

    I am an American. I am a former US federal law enforcement officer and military official. The US wants to dominate the world and would love to influence Thailand. Do not trust the US government. All the wars we have today, all of the issues going on around the world are caused by the US empire.

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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