Roi Tri Somboon Sirpreecha was nervous.
It had been a whole fifteen days since he had reported to his post as the youngest, least-experienced platoon commander in the Thanan Phran, the Thai Rangers. It hadn’t been an easy fifteen days, either. While the Royal Thai Army provided the Thanan Phran with its officer and NCO corps, many of the men had their own ideas about discipline and responsibility. He’d long heard that many of the Rangers had been criminals, pardoned of their crimes for joining up, but he hadn’t realized just how shadowy the interior workings of the Thanan Phran could be until he’d caught one of his more experienced and respected Rangers brazenly stealing from one of the villagers when they’d passed through Ban Pha Hi on patrol.
When he’d confronted the man, he’d found himself half-surrounded by suddenly surly Rangers, all with weapons close at hand. He’d held his ground, backed up by Sip Ek Klahan Phonarthit, and the Rangers had slowly backed down. The culprit, Kamun Amsir, had finally handed the stolen food back to the bent old woman, giving the Roi Tri a smile that promised that he would learn how the Thanan Phran worked, or he wouldn’t be around for long.
Now he was chivvying his platoon into trucks to head for the same village, based on reports from the Border Patrol Police that the sensors they had emplaced along the border, with the Americans’ help, had picked up a sizeable group moving toward the border, through the jungle. They weren’t going to the border crossing in Wiang Phang Kham, either. Which meant they were probably drug smugglers.
The United Wa State Army had been running ya ba, methamphetamine pills, into Thailand for years, along with the heroin that the Golden Triangle was world-renowned for. A good part of why the Thanan Phran was on the border was to intercept the UWSA drug shipments.
Of course, Somboon was increasingly aware that some of his Thanan Phran were probably complicit in the same trade. It had been a problem for some time, and had led to some tensions between the Rangers and the BPP. He had his eyes on Kamun. The man seemed like the type. Continue reading ““Burmese Crossfire” Chapter 1″