488 marines ship out of Sattahip for troubled south

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Nearly 500 Royal Thai Marines departed Sattahip for Thailand’s strife-torn southern provinces last month as the military shuffles its personnel in the area.

Marine Corps commander Rear Adm. Sompong Sungsuwan addressed the 488 troops slated for duty in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat at Prince Jetsada Camp Sept. 27. 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.

Marine Corps commander Rear Adm. Sompong Sungsuwan addresses 488 troops slated for duty in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat. Marine Corps commander Rear Adm. Sompong Sungsuwan addresses 488 troops slated for duty in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.

Sompong said the troops from the 1st Infantry Battalion and 3rd Infantry Battalion King’s Regiment, patrol officers, technicians and medical officers have been trained in languages, culture and tradition, as well as for guerilla warfare.

He urged the troops to take care and not be lulled into complacency by the recent downturn in violence. He said they also must realize the importance of language, communication and understanding with citizens who speak more Malay than Thai. Traditions, he stressed, are a very sensitive issue and urged them to be patient.

Before departing, monks blessed the troops and handed out amulets while family and friends offered flowers as they said their goodbyes.