US experts lead counter-terrorism workshop

PATONG: Some 30 Thai police and military personnel are undergoing a two-week “Military Law Enforcement/Boarding Officer” course conducted by US military experts at the Patong Resort Hotel.

The training, which began Monday, is the latest of many ventures funded by the US Defense Department’s Counter Terrorism Fellowship Program (CTFP) for Thailand. The program, which in 2006 had a budget of about US$200,000 (more than 7 million baht), is financed by the Joint United States Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) office in Bangkok.

Attending the training are 10 officers of the Phuket Police Special Operations Unit, along with four officers from Kathu Police, six Marine Police officers, two Immigration Police officers, five Navy officers and four Crime Suppression Division Officers assigned to Phuket Customs.

Unlike previous counter-terrorism programs organized by JUSMAG in Phuket, this session focuses on threats at sea and port areas, with training in how to identify potential threats.

Capt Walter Bruce Watson, Junior Naval Attache at the US Embassy in Bangkok, told the Gazette the training will help make areas such as Patong safe for visiting sailors.

“The training that they provide helps make Phuket a safer place for American sailors who come and visit. They train police in how to identify bombs and what to do if they find one,” he said.

“We have always felt that Phuket is one of the safest places in Asia, but this just helps give us assurance that it is even safer than it was before,” he added.

US crews on leave in Phuket can number from 250 to 2,000 people at one time, he said.

Leading the training is Lt Junior Grade Trevor Blount of the United State Coast Guard’s International Training Division.

He said the coup in September had no impact on the training to be offered, which was scheduled before the coup, and has already been given in Singapore and on Langkawi Island in Malaysia

“There may be a few things that are specifically for Thailand, but nothing would change as far as the coup is concerned,” he said.

Capt Watson said the whole US side was excited to be in Phuket and was impressed by the way the island’s security forces worked together.

“If anyone else wanted to know how to do it right, we would tell them to come to Phuket,” he said.

Phuket News

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Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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