Conflict & Justice

A "Pentagon II" to command Thailand's terror fight?


Thai hospital workers aid a man bloodied amidst a series of explosions in Yala, Thailand, on October 25, 2011. Suspected Muslim insurgents set off more than a dozen co-ordinated explosions that killed at least one civilian and two rebels, a local official said. The explosions are the latest in a series of increasingly brazen attacks by shadowy rebels in the Muslim-majority Thai south, which has been plagued by more than eight years of conflict claiming more than 4,800 lives.



Thailand's insurgency-torn deep south is currently coping with a wave of bombings and killings -- perhaps timed to the Ramadan holidays -- that recently left a hotel popular with military and political leaders scarred by explosions. Last week, the coordianted ambush of soldiers on motorbikes was captured on video. According to Agence Presse France, the government is considering a regional curfew.

Having covered Thailand's Islamic rebellion for several years, I've seen these spasms of violence inspire all sorts of ideas from officialdom.

A former army commander hoped to win Muslim hearts and minds by distributing mudballs, laced with beneficial microorganisms, that were reputed to boost farmer's yields.

Another senior-ranking army official hoped an $11 million blimp would offer soldiers an all-seeing "eye in the sky" to surveil militants. The blimp has struggled to stay airborne.

But the most curious concept to date comes from Thailand's hard-nosed deputy prime minister, Chalerm Yubamrung, who told the Bangkok Post of his hopes to set up a new command center operating under Pentagon-level standards.

His name for this new entity?

Pentagon II.

And his rationale? According to the Bangkok Post, Chalerm believes that "Pentagon II would improve efficiency in the government's fight against the southern insurgency just as the Pentagon worked successfully to hunt down Osama bin Laden."