New Appointments Expected in Key Positions
The annual military reshuffle in Thailand is drawing attention as top leaders of the three armed forces and the chief of the Thai defense forces are scheduled for mandatory retirement at the end of September. This year, the reshuffle will not be sent to the cabinet for approval. Instead, it will be considered under the 2008 Defense Ministry Administration Act. A seven-member panel, chaired by Prime Minister and Defense Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, will review the list before submitting it for royal approval.
Prime Minister Prayut’s Final Decisions
Gen Prayut, who announced his decision to step away from politics after nine years in power, is expected to place trusted individuals in key positions during his last act as the prime minister. The outgoing military leaders have been asked to submit their reshuffle list by mid-August for review and finalization. A new government is slated to take power in late August or early September.
Deputy army commander Gen Charoenchai Hintao is widely anticipated to become the next army chief due to his seniority and close relationship with Gen Prayut. Gen Charoenchai, considered a strong favorite, is known to be quiet yet decisive. His role will be closely watched amidst political tensions and uncertainty.
Thai Defense Forces
Gen Songwit Noonphakdi, a cadet graduate from the US, is favored to succeed Gen Chalermpol Srisawat as chief of the Thai defense forces. Gen Songwit’s appointment may establish a tradition that the head of the Royal Thai Armed Forces (RTARF) must be a part of the red-rim fraternity.
Three strong candidates have emerged for the navy’s top position: Assistant navy chief Adm Suwin Jangyodsuk, navy chief-of-staff Adm Chonlathis Navanugraha, and commander of the Royal Thai Fleet Adm Adung Phaniam. Adm Suwin, who is widely speculated to win the post, has close connections with the outgoing navy commander.
Air Force Top Post
Air force chief-of-staff ACM Narong Inthachart and deputy air force commander ACM Chanon Mungthanya are tipped to lead the air force following the retirement of air chief ACM Alongkorn Vannarot. Both contenders are members of Class 23 at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School (AFAPS) and F-16 pilots.
Transition of Power
As Thailand prepares for a new government, these military appointments will play a significant role in shaping the country’s political landscape. The reshuffle is expected to have long-lasting effects on the armed forces and the nation’s future direction.