Rear Adm. Noppadol Suphakorn addressed the 320 troops slated for duty in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat at Prince Jetsada Camp Sept. 24. The soldiers are relieving marines on duty for the past year in a region of Thailand where nearly 4,000 people have been killed since 2004 in a Muslim separatist insurgency.
Monks bless the troops and hand out amulets for luck before the troops leave for the south.
The troops from the Airport Security Battalion, Air and Coastal Defense Command, Koh Kood special forces, Koh Miang Monitor and Report Wave Movement, and Water Radar Surveillance and have been trained in languages, culture and tradition, as well as for guerilla warfare.
Before departing, monks from five area temples blessed the troops and handed out amulets while family and friends offered flowers as they said their goodbyes.