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Thai military maneuvers to stay on top

King's Guard secures senior positions as junta tightens grip on power

Gen. Apirat Kongsompong, left, walks with U.S. Army General Robert B. Brown, chief commander of the U.S. Army Pacific, during a visit to the 31st Infantry Regiment, the King's Guard, in central Thailand in June.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Shortly after he was appointed Thailand's army chief last September, Gen. Chalermchai Sitthisart made a priority of visiting all the regiments in a force of 335,000 active-duty troops. It helped drum up the image of an approachable army commander, military insiders said at the time. But military analysts read more into Chalermchai's visits: They were to establish his authority as a stabilizer in an army known for splits between politically powerful factions and military graduating-class loyalties.

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