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06BANGKOK1174 SENATOR FEINGOLD’S MEETING WITH THAI DEFENSE MINISTER THAMMARAK

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“54416”,”2/27/2006 9:30″,”06BANGKOK1174″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 001174

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, EAP/MLS, H

PACOM FOR FPA (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/21/2016

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PTER, PINS, TH, Southern Thailand, POL/MIL

SUBJECT: SENATOR FEINGOLD\’S MEETING WITH THAI DEFENSE

MINISTER THAMMARAK

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce. Reason 1.4 (b,d)

 

1. (C) Summary. In a February 20 meeting with visiting

Senator Russell Feingold and the Ambassador, Defense Minister

Thammarak Issarangkul Na Ayutthaya outlined Thai military

modernization efforts, explained that the RTG has not yet

made a decision on the purchase of new fighter aircraft and

voiced optimism on RTG efforts to combat violence in the

South. End Summary.

 

2. (SBU) On February 20, Senator Russell Feingold,

accompanied by the Ambassador, called on Thai Minister of

Defense Thammarak Issarangkul Na Ayutthaya. Thammarak began

by thanking Senator Feingold for visiting and observed that

the large number of senior Thai officers in the room who had

received U.S. training signified the close and \”very good\”

U.S.-Thai relationship. Senator Feingold concurred, citing

U.S.-Thai collaboration in response to the 2004 tsunami and

the importance of the annual Cobra Gold exercise. The

Senator emphasized that the close U.S.-Thai partnership would

be important in tackling new regional and global threats.

 

MILITARY MODERNIZATION

———————-

 

3. (SBU) Senator Feingold asked Thammarak for an outline of

Thai military modernization efforts. Thammarak explained

that the Royal Thai Armed Forces had been structured to

combat the communist threat of years past, leading to an

\”oversized\” force. The first goal of modernization was to

downsize excess personnel. Second, the military must improve

its internal education and training. Third, the military

must have the right weapons and equipment to meet new threats

and challenges. MOD has instituted a new three year

procurement and planning cycle to meet this third objective.

New equipment procurement must also focus on logistics and

long term maintenance needs. In particular, the Thai

military was interested in technology transfers with friendly

nations.

 

NO DECISION ON F-16\’S, BESIDES, MOD \”NOT INVOLVED\”

——————————————— —–

 

4. (C) In response to Senator Feingold\’s query on future

Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) procurement, Thammarak explained

that the RTG is focused on upgrading the current fleet of

F-16s. That said, the RTAF will be looking to replace their

aging fleet of F-5\’s, which may involve consideration of

several different offers. Thammarak was quick to emphasize,

however, that no decision had been made yet. The Defense

Minister went on to outline the lengthy procurement process,

which he suggested was rooted in a formal RTAF procurement

board that would eventually report to a special cabinet

committee. \”We\’re (MOD) not involved.\” Any media reports

that a decision has been made already are untrue, he claimed.

 

THE SOUTH

———

 

5. (C) Senator Feingold asked for Thammarak\’s assessment on

the violence in the South and the efficacy of RTG strategy

and tactics there. Thammarak began by emphasizing that,

based on his own \”investigation\” into the situation, the

violence in the South remained an internal affair with no

clear links to outside terrorist groups. \”We think that we

can solve this problem.\” The southern insurgency arose from

the misconduct of state officials. That said, \”we have never

suppressed Muslims in the South.\” Thai Muslims have lived

under Thai administrative control for years in peace. \”Some

groups\” have used politics, drugs and southern locals to

conduct violence. Thammarak emphasized the lack of a

specific, unified group behind the violence.

 

6. (C) When asked if there was a terrorist link to piracy in

the Malacca Strait, Thammarak responded no. There are

several nationalities involved in piracy there, including

Malays and Indonesians, but terrorists \”could not control the

pirates.\” Senator Feingold asked Thammarak about the

importance of Malaysia to the problem in the South. The

Defense minister responded that, given the shared border and

history, Malaysia played a key role in any solution to the

southern violence. Thai authorities were working closely

with their Malay counterparts, in particular on the issue of

dual-citizens involved in the unrest.

 

7. (C) According to Thammarak, the Southern Province Peace

Building Command is playing a key role in coordinating the

multiple agencies and ministries involved in the South. The

government will consider the recommendations of the National

Reconciliation Commission (NRC), but, in truth \”their ideas

won\’t fix everything.\”

8. (U) Senator Feingold\’s office cleared this message.

BOYCE

 

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Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 4:08 am

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