Justice minister bestows new combat gear on marines in Sattahip

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Thailand’s justice minister handed out 900 combat helmets and 190 bullet-proof vests to Sattahip-based Royal Thai Marines personnel serving in the turbulent south and along the Cambodian border.

Pirapan Salirathavibhaga arrived at Prince Chumphon Camp via army helicopter April 11 to present 500 helmets and 100 vests to Vice Adm. Suwit Thararoob for troops based in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces. The Marine Corps commander also took receipt of 300 helmets and 50 vests for forces in border zones in Chantaburi and Trat provinces, as well as 100 helmets and 40 vests for Marines Special Unit 182.

Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga (front left) looks on as Vice Adm. Pongsak Phureeroj presents helmets and vests to Vice Adm. Suwit Thararoob. Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga (front left) looks on as Vice Adm. Pongsak Phureeroj presents helmets and vests to Vice Adm. Suwit Thararoob.

Pirapan said the new equipment was to thank troops for their service and enhance the efforts of border patrols to protect Thailand’s sovereignty and battle drug smugglers. Marines are working with the Office of Narcotics Suppression and Prevention to battle traffickers, but increasingly have been coming under fire, he said.

The justice minister said the gear would also boost morale among southern-deployed troops, hundreds of whom have been killed during a separatist uprising that has left more than 4,000 dead since 2001.