Army bases to leave capital to ease traffic
Army bases on crowded Chaeng Watthana, Samsen, Thahan, Amnuai Songkhram and Phahon Yothin roads will be relocated out of Bangkok to ease traffic congestion, a source close to the military said Monday.
Lop Buri, Saraburi and Samut Sakhon will be their new homes, the source said, adding that the relocation will be carefully carried out to relieve the impact on soldiers and their families.
The first two provinces will house the 1st Cavalry Reconnaissance Company of the 1st Division on Chaeng Watthana Road, the 4th Tank Battalion of the 1st Division on Samsen Road and the 1st Cavalry Regiment on Thahan Road while Samut Sakhon's Krathum Baen district will be the new base of the army's intelligence unit on Amnuai Songkhram Road.
The 2nd Cavalry Division, the King's Guard, on Phahon Yothin Road, will also be moved.
Prachathai. com reported that a panel, to be led by the army chief-of-staff, will be set up to draft the relocation plan this month. The relocation will begin on Sept 30 next year, according to the news report.
Commanders of the four units have been told to prepare information -- including the areas of their compounds, choices of their new places as well as budgets -- and send them to the panel for consideration.
The Air Defence Artillery Division, also situated on Thahan Road, will be the next to move to Lop Buri "if necessary", the source said, referring to the phase-2 relocation.
Also, the 11th Military Circle on Rama V Road will be relocated to Chaeng Watthana Road.
The army also has a plan to "dissolve" the 11th Infantry Regiment in Bangkok's Bang Khen district and the 1st Infantry Regiment (King and Queen's Guard) in the Phaya Thai area and transfer their personnel to other units, the source said.
In another development, deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon denied an accusation that the latest military reshuffle was ordered by the National Council for Peace and Order to gain an advantage in the election, tentatively scheduled for Feb 24 next year.
The military's critics believe assistant army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong's rise to the top post will help pave the way for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to return as premier.
"It's nothing to do with the election," Gen Prawit told reporters.
By tradition, he insisted, the military promotions and transfers are arranged by the chiefs of army units who give weight to seniority.