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Thailand's military maneuvers to stay on top

Junta tightens its grip on power as army factions jockey for position

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 chief of Thailand's army last September, Gen. Chalermchai Sitthisad made a point of visiting all the regiments in a force of 335,000 active-duty troops. This helped project the image of an approachable commander, army insiders said at the time. But military analysts read more into Chalermchai's visits: They were intended to establish his authority as a stabilizer in an army known for its divisions between politically powerful factions and military graduating-class loyalties.

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