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Thai armed forces to submit candidates for annual reshuffle

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Thai armed forces to submit candidates for annual reshuffle

Thai Army
Photo: Reuters

Leaders of the Royal Thai Armed Forces will submit their candidate lists for the annual reshuffle today.

The Thai Royal Family continues to dominate the military and has tainted previous reshuffles: illuminating deep-rooted military factionalism of the military-academy-class, vested financial interests and familial ties. The annual shuffle is intended to serve as a power-check for Thailand’s military factions.

Calls for reform of the factionalized armed forces are strengthening, as corruption, political impunity, insufficient accountability and transparency persist as endemic problems in the military.

In the immediate term, expect navy and air forces to see new commanders in October, with no such changes to the army. In the medium-term, expect the reshuffle and impending defense budget to reflect the palace’s intention to balance the factions in attempt to enhance and strengthen influence over the armed forces, reducing the likelihood of meaningful reform sticking.

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Photo: AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski

For the foreseeable future, expect the stratified and politicized military to endure unless the forces can more determinedly push for reform from within. Internally driven reform, however, has never succeeded. The tainted military is the main barrier to democratization, and it must first and foremost be reformed for this objective to be achieved.

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