Paramilitary: Female Rangers Battle Terrorists


p> April 21, 2008: The Thailand Army Rangers are not an elite force, but a paramilitary organization, and recently they formed an all female battalion to support operations against Islamic terrorists in the south. The Rangers (actually, their literal title means "hunter soldiers") were originally formed three decades ago to run down communist rebels in the northeast jungles. Many of these original rangers were convicts, given the option to work off their sentence in uniform. Other recruits were local people, looking for a paycheck. Officers and NCOs were from the army. The rangers continue to be used along the border, often recruited from locals who know the territory. That often leads to corruption, but it does provide a force that knows its way in isolated rural frontier areas.

There had always been about a hundred female rangers, but usually deployed in squad (about ten troops) sized units. The 300 strong battalion was formed for service in the south, where the Moslem population gets really angry if male soldiers search or manhandle their women. But there were also problems with pro-terrorist Moslem women carrying out demonstrations to provide cover for male terrorists. The Moslem women rioters would make a big media stink if they were dispersed by male soldiers or police. So the army asked for volunteers and soon had 300 women rangers. Some were widows or daughters of men killed in the south, or elsewhere in army service. But most were just women looking for something a little different.

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