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Military Conscription in Thailand Will Not Be Scrapped Anytime Soon

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Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has said  Conscription into military service will not be scrapped anytime soon. Saying there are not enough volunteers signing up for military service.

Gen Prawit told reporters that Conscription is meant to shore up any manpower shortfalls. Conscripts also represent a small percentage of all recruits he said.

“If conscription is abolished and something untoward were to happen to Thailand, there won’t be enough soldiers to defend the country,” said Gen Prawit. “Who would be responsible for that occurring?” he said.

Even if the government agreed to end conscription, lawmakers would still need to amend a number of laws.

“Public opinion would also have to be factored in if conscription were to be abolished,” said Gen Prawit.

“A new method of recruitment will have to be put in place, too, as the conscription system has been in place for decades,” he said.

Thailand’s Military Top Heavy

Gen Prawit worries that if conscription were abolished then there would not be enough soldiers to defend the country However he contradicts himself by admitting that “conscripts represent a small percentage of all recruits”.

Wouldn’t the country be better defended by a well-trained body of professional soldiers. Rather than a motley assembly of men who don’t want to be there in the first place. Many of whom have spent most of their time since conscription assigned as household servants to high-ranking officers?

Thailand has a population of 66 million, with a military force of about 350,000. The Thai military is burdened with over 1700 generals and admirals. There are more generals and admirals than the total number of warships, tanks, and aircraft in Thailand. Over 300 of them work in Bangkok. And those senior officers have aides, not to mention conscript soldiers to do their household chores.

And not one of those generals or admirals has seen combat since the Thai-Lao border skirmish in 1988.

More Brass than the United States military combined

Yet the United States with a population of 360 million people, and an active duty military force of 1,281,000 has about 900 generals and admirals serving in all military branches. The US military is engaged in 3 combat missions Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Also several military support and peacekeeping missions in the Middle East and Africa.

There is a widespread belief that these countless Thai generals and admirals have just three main aims: to align themselves with politicians of the right political party; to ensure that they receive the best possible posting; and to enrich themselves and share their takings with their subordinates thus ensuring their loyalty.

Some critics have contended that, in reality, the Thai armed forces serve two main functions: a) internal security: to safeguard ruling class hegemony from challenges by mass movements to expand the democratic space, and b) to satisfy the self-enrichment goals of the upper echelons of the Thai military and their friends and supporters.

What is already clear to everyone is that Thailand looks ridiculous having so many field grade officers. Considering that this is peacetime, and Thailand can’t afford this.

Source: The Bangkok Post