Budget battle: Defence minister stands his ground on expenditures

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

During the ongoing budget debate in Parliament, Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang fiercely defended his military spending plans against a barrage of criticism from the opposition.

The Move Forward Party (MFP)’s Wiroj Lakkanaadisorn launched a scathing attack on the defence budget last Friday, June 21, accusing it of prioritising troop salaries and benefits over the advanced weaponry necessary for modern warfare.

Wiroj claimed the focus on manpower revealed a lack of strategic military planning in Thailand. He argued that the disorganised procurement process, with each military branch buying separately from various countries, led to wasteful spending and compatibility issues, ultimately failing to address current threats.

Suthin struck back, revealing plans for a transformative One Strategy, One Armament approach set to launch in 2027 (fiscal year 2028). This new strategy would mark the beginning of significant changes, including a reduction in the number of generals and the conversion of active-duty soldiers into civilian defence personnel. Conscription numbers would be cut in favour of voluntary enlistment.

The defence minister emphasised that these changes would shift the budget focus away from personnel costs, freeing up funds for weapon procurement and improving military welfare. A military working group would be established to outline a threat strategy and assess national security risks over the next five to 10 years, guiding the development of a comprehensive master plan for the three military branches.

Sutin announced that each branch would evaluate its equipment, identifying those nearing the end of their service life. Future procurement would ensure compatibility across branches, such as new fighter jets capable of data linkage with Navy warships.

A Defence Ministry committee chaired by Sutin and armed forces representatives will consider new equipment requests in three categories: high-cost projects, mass procurement of essential items like drones and rifles, and support for the domestic defence industry.

Sutin declared that the One Strategy, One Armament plan would lay a robust foundation for a streamlined military, enhancing its ability to protect the nation and its people effectively, reported The Nation.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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