UK to join military exercise
The armies of Thailand and the United Kingdom will launch a joint military exercise, codenamed "Panther Gold 2017", in Kanchanaburi on Tuesday.
According to Thai military sources, the drill was proposed by the UK armed forces to its Thai counterpart, and approved by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, giving the Royal Thai Armed Forces the go-ahead for the exercise.
The sources said Thai infantry troops were accordingly assigned to take part in the drill.
The Royal Thai Army has instructed the First Army Area to deploy forces in the 9th Infantry Division to join the exercise, which will be conducted every two years now.
The drill is meant to enhance military capabilities by letting the two countries' armies exchange knowledge and experience, army sources said.
They added that the forces would also learn about the traditions, culture and customs of their respective countries that would deepen the relationship between the troops.
The key training will entail the exchange of military tactics among rifle platoons and companies. They will practise how to operate in jungles, navigate rough terrains, set up barracks for patrol troops, seek intelligence by patrol, proceed with prompt invasion and defence, and how to stage attacks during the night.
The opening ceremony for the joint exercise, set to last about a month, will be conducted at the 9th Infantry Division's air base in Kanchanaburi on Friday. It will be presided over by Lt Gen Parinya Kunnasri, chief of the Directorate of Operations, and Maj Gen Giles Patrick Hill, assistant chief of the British Army's Defence Staff.
The UK Army will deploy 120 troops from the Light Role Infantry Company, the 1st Battalion Irish Guard, to take part in the drill.
Thai forces will send 300 troops to take part in the drill, 220 of which are from the 9th Infantry Division, including 120 rifle company soldiers.
According to the sources, Lt Gen Parinya will plan, direct and oversee the exercise -- tasks which will be divided up each week.
From Tuesday to Nov 5, troops will learn to adjust to life in the base, as well as practise using weapons and martial arts. They will also start to learn about survival skills in the jungle. The drill during this timeframe will be conducted at the 9th Infantry Division.
Then, between Nov 6 and Nov 12, the troops will relocate to the jungle in Sai Yok National Park. They will be divided into four groups, each taking turns being trained in different stations in tasks like forest survival, using a compass and launching flash action against enemies.
Tactical training will be conducted by rifle platoon troops in the week that follows, from Nov 13 to Nov 19. The troops will be ordered to conduct offensives, combat and ambush.
The final week of training will see the tactical training by troops in the company levels. The closing ceremony of the drill will be held on Nov 24.
The British soldiers will return home at the end of next month.