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Turbulent Thailand

Thai military battles loss of recruits as abuses come to light

Thousands of soldiers ditch service, threatening powerful political institution

As the country's most dominant political institution, Thailand's military has up to now been able to flex its muscle as needed.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Thailand's powerful military has been rattled by a blow to its prestige from the weakest link under its command -- tens of thousands of new recruits, who have chosen to return to civilian life rather than remain soldiers another year.

Gen. Apirat Kongsompong, the army chief, has raised the alarm about an impending troop shortage next month, after only 5,460 new conscripts signed on to remain enlisted out of the 42,000 to be discharged at the end of April.

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