Potential Hot Spots: June 30, 2001


Most of Thailand's land borders run through mountainous jungles and are poorly defined as well. Since 1978, the government has maintained a force of Rangers ("hunter soldiers" in Thai, but Americans who operated with their predecessors on the Laos border during the Vietnam war used the American termRangers.) Over the last decade, things were pretty quiet on the borders and the strength of the Rangers declined from 22,000 to 11,000. But in the last year, the Rangers have been reorganized with new equipment, new leadership and better selection of individual rangers. The officers and NCOs come from the regular army, but the rangers themselves are people who live in the frontier areas. Some of the Rangers are full time, others are part time, depending on how active the border area is. There are now 11,000 men (and some women) in the Rangers. There 13 regimental headquarters (46 Rangers each), 107 companies (90 Rangers each) and 12 Women's squads (11 female Rangers each.) Most of the Rangers are on the Lao/Cambodia borders, where they are the primary border guard force (except for Border Patrol Police at main crossings). But on the Myanmar (Burma) border, there are drug lord armies and hostile Myanmar army units. Only 37 Ranger companies are on this frontier, where most of the hit areas are covered by army and Border Patrol troops. The Rangers have had problems in the past. Out on thinly populated border areas, they become a law unto themselves. There have been some atrocities and criminal activity (mostly drug smuggling) incidents involving Rangers. But overall, the Rangers have been an effective way to keep the border areas under control.


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