Mixed view on clip of army punishment
ARMY spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree hit out this week at trainers involved in controversial physical penalty against a trainee seeking to be part of the Army’s special operations force – yet a number of people who viewed a video of the attack have voiced moral support for the trainers who punished the volunteer.
“An investigating committee of the Army’s Calvary Centre is looking into this case. Further action is pending completion of the investigation. However, a harsh, physical penalty against the trainee is not in line with the Army’s guidelines,” Winthai said.
His remark came after a 1.26-minute video clip, which featured the trainee being hit with a wooden stick and shoved away by two trainers, went viral after being released on Thursday – stirring controversy and mixed opinions from netizens.
The spokesman said that according to Army guidelines, punishment varies according to the severity of disciplinary offences and ranges from probation to other penalties such as confinement, detention, or imprisonment. No penalty was imposed that involved “touching bodies of offenders” like in the clip, he explained.
The programme, Winthai said, was for Army Rangers, a programme for a special operations unit, featuring a joint SEAL, underwater demolition, and frogmen courses.
“The training is widely known for its intensity and brutality in order to intensively prepare the trainees for special military missions,” he said.
Trainees eligible for the course have to be full-time military or police who voluntarily apply for the “brutal” training and pass physical and mental tests.
He said each class in the training lasted around 2-3 months and has seen many trainees drop out before they complete it due to the tough conditions. However, he believed, only a few torture cases had occurred, thanks to the limited numbers of trainees.
Major Veeratyut Vurtsiip, commander of the Cavalry Centre, which organises the training course, said the injured trainee, Lance Corporal Pratchya Wattanasundhi, sneaked out during a training on long-distance talk to buy cigarettes and then smoked in the presence of trainers, according to a news report.
The major said Pratchya had violated discipline several other times. He said the centre’s investigation committee had questioned the involved parties, and the trainee was not angry with his trainers because he accepted his offence and he had recently been ruled ineligible for the training as his marks for discipline had been cut to zero after three different offences.
Pratchya’s father, Second Lieutenant Surachet, the 58-year-old retired military officer, said he was shocked by the video. He said the horrendous disciplining of his son took place on Monday and his son’s training was terminated that evening. The scene occurred at the Cavalry’s training centre in Saraburi province, it said.
“If my son violates the disciplines, please proportionately punish him following the guidelines. Don’t do this for all the training courses. I don’t want to take legal action against the trainers, but I have to say that my son is treated unfairly by arbitrary actions from the trainers who have no right to do such a thing,” the father said.
Curiously, the clip drew a mixed response from viewers on social media. Some backed the punishment, given that training for the special force is voluntary and requires harsh and tough discipline to ensure the trainees’ mental and physical strength.