The delegation will integrate work between the cabinet and other central government agencies and local organisations such as the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) and the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) to tackle the southern insurgency.
It will report directly to Gen Prayut and Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, the source said.
Delegation members will also serve as members of the government’s steering committee for solving problems in the southern border provinces set up in 2014.
The delegation will act as a “forward command” of the steering committee.
Deputy Defence Minister Udomdej Sitabutr has been picked to head the delegation, while Deputy Education Minister Gen Surachet Chaiwong, also a former deputy army chief of staff, is the delegation’s deputy, the source said.
Other delegation members include Gen Aksara Kerdphol, the head of the government’s team handling peace talks on the southern unrest; Gen Sakol Chuentrakul, an adviser to the prime minister; former 4th Army chief Gen Udomchai Thammasaroraj; former 4th Army chief Gen Prakan Cholayut; and Panu Uthairat, a former SBPAC secretary-general.
The Cabinet will consider details relating to the delegation's administration and personnel management on Tuesday. Its office location is expected to be chosen from three options – Pattani’s Ingkayutthaboriharn army base, the 15th Infantry Division in Pattani, or Sirindhorn army camp in Pattani, the source said.
According to the Isara News Agency, Surachart Bamrungsuk, a professor of political science and an expert on security affairs at Chulalongkorn University, said a “forward command” model is nothing new.
Similar bodies were set up to tackle these problems in the past, such as during the Thaksin Shinawatra administration. At the time, Lt Gen Surapol Phuenaiyakan, then National Security Council deputy secretary-general, was sent to pull together efforts to solve the southern problems under a similar “Cabinet forward command” structure.
Mr Surachart said the forward command at the time encountered problems such as a lack of coordination between operational units in the restive region. These operational units also challenged the authority of the forward command, Mr Surachart said. The new delegation is expected to face similar problems, he said.
Gen Surachet insisted Sunday that the delegation is not meant to boss around any existing agencies handling problems in the far South.
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