Thai defence ministry to downsize military

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

The Thai Ministry of Defence outlined a comprehensive plan to downsize service personnel by approximately 700 individuals within the next three years.

This strategic move aims to restructure the military and is expected to result in savings of up to 34 million baht. Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang confirmed these details after a Defence Council meeting last Thursday.

The initial phase of the downsizing process, which will span the fiscal years from 2025 to 2027, was agreed upon unanimously during the council meeting. The idea to reduce military personnel was first proposed by Sutin in a budget bill debate for the fiscal year 2024 on January 4.

The defence minister has issued a new regulation focusing on early retirements to help decrease the number of high-ranking officers across the three military branches by almost half, equating to around 380 officers, by 2027.

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Defence Spokesman, Rear Admiral Thanitpong Sirisawetsak, shared further details on the proposed structural changes within the military. To minimise work redundancy, several divisions will be merged. For instance, the Office of the Secretary of the Reserve Personnel Committee and the Recruitment Division, Department of Defence Resources, are set to be consolidated with the Ministry’s Office Permanent Secretary.

The restructuring also includes the reform of some military structures. The Defence Information and Space Technology Department, for instance, will be revamped to work more cohesively with the Military Cyber Centre, which is expected to evolve into the Military Cyber Command soon.

In addition, certain organisations will transform. The ASEAN Office of Defense Policy and Planning will become the Office of International and ASEAN Cooperation, and the Royal Initiative Project and Security Coordination Centre will be transformed into the Royal Initiative Project Development Office.

In related developments, Sutin has instructed the Judge Advocate General’s Department to revise regulations relating to servicemen’s job descriptions, reported Bangkok Post.

This order comes in response to a video posted by a former conscript on March 10, which went viral. The video showed the former conscript tasked with washing his superior’s wife’s underwear, among other domestic duties. Sutin has emphasised the need for an official job description for conscripts working at their superiors’ residences.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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