The Royal Thai Army or RTA (Thai: กองทัพบกไทย; RTGS: kong thap bok thai ) is the army of Thailand responsible for protecting its sovereignty and national interests. It is the oldest and largest branch of the Royal Thai Armed Forces.
- 1 History
- 2 Infrastructure
- 3 Command and control
- 4 Structure
- 5 Rank structure
- 6 Equipment
- 7 Broadcasting
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The Royal Thai Army is responsible for protecting the kingdom's sovereignty. It is the oldest and largest branch of the Royal Thai Armed Forces. The army was formed in 1874, partly as a response to new security threats following the 1855 Bowring Treaty with Britain, which opened the country for international trade.
On 22 May 2014 the army deposed the government, appointed military officers to the national assembly, and on 21 August 2014 they elected the army's Commander in Chief, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, as prime minister. The general retired October 2014 to concentrate on political reform which he said would take at least a year, following which he promised national elections would be held.
Observers have noted a power struggle in 2016 between the factions of the Thai army and their support of different heirs to the throne of Thailand. The largest faction conflict is between the Queen's Guard Regiment, who support the Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, while the King's Guard soldiers, and other royalists, support the king's second daughter, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
In the modern era, the Royal Thai Army, the most powerful branch of the Thai military, has a long history of coups d'état and coup attempts. Its leadership continues to see coup-making as one role of the army.
On 24 December 2015 the RTA broke ground for a new auditorium, formally called the "Royal Thai Army International Forum". The 2.3 billion baht (US$64 million) facility will replace an existing 58 year-old auditorium. The building is due to be completed in 2019. The ground floor auditorium will accommodate 500 people, an office, a press room, and a reception hall. The first floor will include a party room for 500 people. The second floor will hold a second auditorium for 3,000 people and a reception hall. The basement car park is designed to accommodate 400 vehicles.
Command and control
The Royal Thai Army is commanded by the Commander of the Royal Thai Army (ผู้บัญชาการทหารบกไทย). This position is considered the most powerful position in the Thai Armed Forces. As of 1 October 2018, the commander is General Apirat Kongsompong. The army as a whole is commanded by an estimated 1,750 generals. In the view of the Bangkok Post, "Two thirds of that number could be retired immediately, and the only effect would be that the world would stop mocking Thailand for their presence."
- Commander-in-Chief: Gen Apirat Kongsompong from 1 October 2018).
- Deputy Commander-in-Chief: General Walit Rochanapakdee
- Assistant Commander-in-Chief: General Kampanat Ruddit
- Assistant Commander-in-Chief: General Chalermchai Sitthisad
- Chief of Staff of the Army: General Pisit Sitthisarn
List of commanders
The Royal Thai Army today is divided into four army areas:
- First Army – headquartered in Bangkok, controls troops in 26 provinces in central, eastern, western Thailand and Bangkok.
- Second Army – headquartered in Nakhon Ratchasima and is responsible for the northeastern quadrant.
- Third Army – headquartered in Phitsanulok, responsible for the northern and northwestern parts of the kingdom.
- Fourth Army – headquartered in Nakhon Si Thammarat, responsible for southern Thailand, engaged in the South Thailand insurgency. US State Department cables leaked by WikiLeaks in 2006 said: "Military forces totaling approximately 35,000 troops fall under the command of the 4th Army....the 5th Inf Div and the 15th Development Division (three regiments) totaling approximately 20,000 troops are the main units of the 4th Army."
- 5th Infantry Division – (Fort Thep Satri Srisunthorn, Nakhon Si Thammarat Province)
- 15th Infantry Division – (Fort Ingkhayutthaborihan, Pattani Province)
- 4th Development Division – US State Department cables leaked by Wikileaks in 2006 said: "The Development Division is itself a traditionally 'static unit' that provides engineering, construction and other support to local communities in the South. It is not formally charged with security operations. Indeed, Development Division officers were very proud in stating that they have better relations with the locals than other security elements — and have not been attacked while engaged in construction or relief efforts."
The creation of the 15th Infantry Division was announced in January 2005. Defence Minister, General Samphan Boonyanan, was quoted as saying that the new unit, dubbed the "Development Division", would not be a combat unit for fighting Islamic militants, but rather its main mission would be to assist local citizens and develop the region. The military will not ignore its general function of providing safety for the citizens of the region, he added. He said that troops for the new division would undergo training to give them a good understanding of local residents, the vast majority of whom are ethnic Malay Muslims. The division is in fact a transformation of the Pranburi-based 16th Infantry Division. It will now be headquartered at Fort Ingkhayutthaborihan in Pattani, complete with its battalions and companies of military police and communications and aviation personnel, he said. It will also have three separate infantry battalions, one each in Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat. Each battalion will include three companies of medical, engineering, and psychological warfare personnel, he said. The government will allocate a budget of more than 18 billion baht for the division over the next four years.
The International Crisis Group wrote in 2010 that "...the 15th Infantry Division is being established as a permanent force to handle security problems in the Deep South. The division is based in Pattani and is expected to have a combined force of around 10,000. The establishment of this new division, approved by the government in 2005, has yet to be completed. As of this writing, some 7,000 troops deployed in the Deep South are affiliated to this division."
Jane's Defence Weekly for 15 August 2012 said that two new combat formations had been approved by the previous Pheu Thai administration. The new 7th Infantry Division is based at Mae Rim, near Chiang Mai, and the new 3rd Cavalry Division is based at Khon Kaen.
The King's Guard form several separate regiments within these formations.
The army is organised into the following formations:
- Nine infantry divisions (including 16 tank battalions)
- One armoured division
- Three cavalry divisions (light armoured divisions)
- One Special Warfare Command trained and equipped for small unit special and airborne operations
The Royal Thai Army controls at least one television network, the Thai Global Network.
The Army Tactical Level Advanced Simulation (ATLAS) is an interactive, distributed, constructive simulation used to conduct military Command Post Exercises (CPX). ATLAS displays a continuous terrain model, incorporates HLA 1516, and displays 1:250,000 and 1:50,000 maps and satellite imagery. ATLAS was developed between 2002–2005 through co-operation with the Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC).
Army Medical Department
Army Medical Department (AMED) (กรมแพทย์ทหารบก) belongs to the service segment of the Royal Thai Army. It is in charge of medical affairs, and providing medical care, both in the field and on base, training personnel in research and agriculture and supervising the other medical divisions within the Royal Thai Army. AMED observed 111 years of service in January 2011, with 110 years of service having been honoured by issue of a series of commemorative stamps. AMED operates Phramongkutklao Hospital in Bangkok and Ananda Mahidol Hospital in Lopburi, along with smaller hospitals at each fort, as well as Phramongkutklao College of Medicine (PCM).
Royal Thai Army Air Division. (กองบินทหารบกไทย) belongs to the service segment of the Royal Thai Army Areas:
- Don Mueang International Airport (VTBD)
- Units include the VIP squadron, flying two Embraer ERJ-135LRs (serial number 1084/HS-AMP and serial number 1124), two Jetstream 41s (serial numbers 41060 and 41094), two Casa 212–300s (serial numbers 446 and 447), and two Beech 1900C-1s (serial numbers 0169 and 0170) and the 1st Infantry Battalion operating two Bell 206Bs (serial numbers 4422 and 4448), three Schweizer S-300Cs (serial numbers 1340, 1366 and 1367), and two Cessna U-17B FAC aircraft (serial numbers 1616 and 1617).
- Bang Khen (3 km south of Don Mueang)
- The Royal Squadron flies three Bell 212s and two Bell 412s (serial numbers 36332 and 36333). There is also a special transport unit flying around 10–12 Bell 212s and one or two Bell 206s.
- Fort Surasi (Kanchanaburi)
- The 9th Infantry Battalion operates two Bell 206Bs (the serial number of one is 4424), and two or three Schweizer S-300Cs. There is also a detachment of UH-1Hs from an Air Mobility Company based here.
- Fort Chakraphong (Prachinburi)
- The 2nd Infantry Battalion, "The Queen's Guard", was operating two Bell 206Bs (serial numbers 4446 and 4361), three Schweizer S-300Cs (serial numbers 1343, 1344, and 1345), and two Maule MX-7s (one serial number known is 099) in 2004, however it is likely the Maule MX-7s may now not be operated by this unit now. A detachment of this unit (with, in 1998, one Bell 206 and one Maule MX-7) was operating from Watthana Nakhon (VTBW) near the Cambodian border.
- Phitsanulok Airport (VTPP)
- Loc 16 degrees 46'58.58N,100 degrees 16'44.84E elevation 154 feet/47 metres.
- Runway 14/32 length 9,843 x 148 feet (3,000 x 45 metres)
- Operating from here is the 4th Infantry Battalion with Bell 206Bs, Schweizer S-300Cs, Cessna U-17Bs, and Maule MX-7s.
- Fort Suranari (Khorat)
- The main flying unit here is the 3rd Infantry Battalion flying two Bell 206Bs (serial numbers 4396 and 4447), two Schweizer S-300Cs (serial numbers 1337 and 1339), and two Cessna U-17Bs (serial numbers 1454 and 1618).
- This field also hosts a detachment of up to three Bell 212 helicopters from one of the Air Mobility Companies.
Lopburi, the main base complex of Royal Thai Army Aviation, including training, technical school, aircraft maintenance, and aircraft storage.
- The main airfield here is called Sa Pran Nak (VTBH)
- Loc 14 degrees 56'58.02N, 100 degrees 38'34.88E elevation 95 feet (29 metres).
- Runways 01/19 3,300 x 98 feet (1,006 x 30 metres) and 06/24 3,890 x 98 feet (1,186 x 30 metres)
- Operating units here include
- Gong Bin Bau (Light Aviation Company) – operating Cessna U-17Bs, Cessna T-41s, and Searcher MKIIs
- Gong Bin Pee-ak Moon Tee Nung (Air Mobility Company 1) – operating Bell UH-1Hs and Bell 212s
- Gong Bin Pee-ak Moon Tee Song (Air Mobility Company 2) – operating Bell UH-1Hs (US Excess Defense Articles Program)and Bell 212s
- Gong Bin Pee-ak Moon Tee Sam (Air mobility Company 3) – operating Bell UH-1Hs, Bell 206Bs, Bell AH-1F Huey Cobras (eight) and Bell 212s
- Gong Bin Pee-ak Moon Tee Gou (pasom) (Air Mobility Company 9) [Mixed]) – operating Bell UH-1Hs (US Excess Defense Articles Program) and Sikorsky S-70-43 Black Hawks (six) with six more on order.
- Gong Bin Sanub-sanoon Tua Pai (General Support Aviation Battalion) – operating Boeing CH-47D Chinooks, Bell UH-1Hs, and Mil Mi-17V5s
- The army aviation centre is based here, which conducts conversion training for the army. Types operated are Cessna T-41Bs (ex-US army surplus), Maule MX-7s, and Schweizer S-300C piston trainer helicopters.
- The two former VIP Beechcraft 200 King Air aeroplanes (serial numbers 0342 and 1165), are also based here. Their present role is unknown. These aeroplanes were modified in the US in the late-1990s.
A separate airfield within the Lopburi complex (around 3 km south of Sa Pran Nak) houses the 5th Aircraft Maintenance Company. This unit is responsible for maintenance and storage of army aircraft and helicopters.
- The 5th Infantry Division operates the following aviation assets from a small airfield within the army reserve at Nakhon Si Thammarat (not at the airport): two Bell 206B-3s (serial numbers 4382 and 4427), three Schweizer TH-300Cs (serial numbers 1371, 1372, and 1373) and two Maule MX-7s (serial numbers 114 and 115). A detachment of helicopters can be found here from the Air Mobility Companies based at Lopburi.
The Royal Thai Army is divided into districts, whereby the first digit of the district indicates the army (first, second, third or fourth) that operates it. The names of forts are from locations or influential figures in Thai history. These are as follows:
|Military District Number||Provinces under control||Headquarters location|
|11||Bangkok, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan||Dusit, Bangkok|
|12||Prachinburi, Nakhon Nayok, Chachoengsao||Fort Chakraphong, Prachinburi|
|13||Lopburi, Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Ang Thong||Fort King Narai Maharat, Lopburi|
|14||Chonburi, Rayong||Fort Nawaminthrachini, Chonburi|
|15||Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan||Fort Ramratchaniwet, Phetchaburi|
|16||Ratchaburi, Samut Songkhram, Samut Sakhon||Fort Phanurangsi, Ratchaburi|
|17||Kanchanaburi, Suphan Buri||Fort Surasi, Kanchanaburi|
|18||Saraburi, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya||Fort Adisorn, Saraburi|
|19||Sa Kaeo, Chanthaburi, Trat||Fort Surasinghanat, Sa Kaeo|
|21||Nakhon Ratchasima, Chaiyaphum||Fort Suranari, Nakhon Ratchasima|
|22||Ubon Ratchathani, Amnat Charoen||Fort Sapphasitthiprasong, Ubon Ratchathani|
|23||Khon Kaen, Kalasin||Fort Sripatcharin, Khon Kaen|
|24||Udon Thani, Nong Khai||Fort Prachaksinlapakhom, Udon Thani|
|25||Surin, Sisaket||Fort Weerawatyothin, Surin|
|26||Buriram, Maha Sarakham||Fort Somdej Chao Phraya Kasatsuek, Buriram|
|27||Roi Et, Yasothon||Fort Prasertsongkhram, Roi Et|
|28||Loei, Nong Bua Lamphu||Fort Srisongrak, Loei|
|29||Sakon Nakhon, Bueng Kan||Fort Kritsiwara, Sakon Nakhon|
|210||Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan||Fort Phra Yod Mueang Khwang, Nakhon Phanom|
|31||Nakhon Sawan, Kamphaeng Phet, Uthai Thani||Fort Chiraprawat, Nakhon Sawan|
|32||Lampang||Fort Surasak Montri, Lampang|
|33||Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, Lamphun||Fort Kawila, Chiang Mai|
|34||Phayao||Fort Khun Chueang Thammikkarat, Phayao|
|35||Uttaradit, Phrae||Fort Phichai Dabhak, Uttaradit|
|36||Phetchabun, Phichit||Fort Phokhun Pha Mueang, Phetchabun|
|37||Chiang Rai||Fort King Mengrai Maharat, Chiang Rai|
|38||Nan||Fort Suriyaphong, Nan|
|39||Phitsanulok, Sukhothai||Fort King Naresuan Maharat, Phitsanulok|
|310||Tak||Fort Wachiraprakan, Tak|
|41||Nakhon Si Thammarat (except Thung Song District), Phuket||Fort Vajiravudh, Nakhon Si Thammarat|
|42||Songkhla, Phatthalung, Satun||Fort Senanarong, Songkhla|
|43||Nakhon Si Thammarat (only Thung Song District), Krabi, Trang||Fort Thep Satri Srisunthorn, Nakhon Si Thammarat|
|44||Chumphon, Ranong||Fort Khet Udomsak, Chumphon|
|45||Surat Thani, Phang Nga||Fort Vibhavadi Rangsit, Surat Thani|
|46||Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala||Fort Ingkhayutthaborihan, Pattani|
|OF-10||OF-9||OF-8||OF-7||OF-6||OF-5||OF-4||OF-3||OF-2||OF-1||OF(D) & Student officer|
|Field Marshal||General||Lieutenant General||Major General||Brigadier||Colonel||Lieutenant Colonel||Major||Captain||Lieutenant||Sub Lieutenant||Cadet Officer|
|No equivalent||No insignia|
|Master Sergeant 1st Class
|Master Sergeant 1st Class||Master Sergeant 2nd Class||Master Sergeant 3rd Class||Sergeant||Corporal||Lance Corporal||Private 1st Class||Private|
Radio and Television channel list
- Royal Thai Army Radio Network all 126 stations
- Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters
- Royal Thai Army Radio and Television
- Border Patrol Police
- Thahan Phran
- Battle of Phou Pha Thi, (Northeastern Laos, March 1968) covert Border Patrol "volunteers"
- Thai–Laotian Border War
- Cambodian–Thai border dispute
- Chao Phraya Bodindecha
- Military history of Thailand
- Rajabhakti Park
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