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Apirat pulls out of Army test visit at last minute

Aug 16. 2019
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By Jitraporn Senwong
The Nation

Army chief General Apirat Kongsompong, possibly in an attempt to avoid questions about politics, at the last minute cancelled his scheduled visit to the annual army endurance, English proficiency and general knowledge tests at the Command and General Staff College (CGSC)'s stadium in Bangkok on Friday, and instead assigned his assistant General Kukiat Srinaka to the task.

The latest round of the twice-yearly tests – held in February and August – saw 73 regimental commanders undergone two tests on English proficiency and on general knowledge, while 325 battalion commanders underwent the fitness test and the English proficiency test.

The rigorous fitness tests assess stamina and strength, with officers required to do a series of two-minute push-ups and two-minute sit-ups as well as a two-kilometre run. Officers must get at least 50 per cent scores depending on their functions. If their duties involved warfare they must achieve 70 per cent, while if their duties were in supporting missions they must score 55 per cent. 

Among officers attending the tests were two colonels who had been wounded in two separate insurgent attacks in the deep South –Cavalry Centre commanding officer and former Yala special task force leader Colonel Pongthorn Tappikorn whose left leg was amputated in the 2010 bomb attack while inspecting a bomb scene, and Army Non Commissioned Officer School commanding officer Colonel Sorachet Dee-eua who was wounded in the 2010 bomb attack in Pattani while on duty to provide security to the locals.

Head of the Army’s 3rd Medical Battalion (Surathampitak Military Camp), Lt-Colonel Pak Loharachun, who became widely known from the Chiang Rai cave rescue mission of 13 young footballers last year, also attended and obtained a 100 per cent score with 90 push-ups, 83 sit-ups and a 7.56-minute run over 2 kilometres.

As part of the tests, organised as per Apirat's policy dubbed "Smart Soldiers, Strong Army", a ceremony will be held at the Royal Thai Army headquarter in the afternoon to present awards to those regimental commanders who obtained the highest scores in English tests, as well as those battalion commanders who obtained a 100 per cent score from the fitness test, the highest score in their age group or the highest scores in the English test.

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