- Thailand’s annual military and police reshuffles, due to take effect on 1 October 2022, have been, as usual, greatly influenced by political considerations — including ties with the palace, pre-cadet class membership and factionalism.
- Prime Minister and Defense Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan have appointed their favourites to senior posts in the Army and Police.
- The Crown in turn has appointed its own favourites to command the Air Force and Navy, again ensuring that its trusted Army commander remains in place and prepared to appoint favourites to head the Police and Armed Forces in 2023.
- While control over the 2021 reshuffles was shared between the Army’s Burapha Phayak faction and the Crown, in 2022, palace proactivity has enhanced royal influence over the military and police reshuffles.
* Guest writer, Paul Chambers, is Lecturer and Special Advisor for International Affairs, Center of ASEAN Community Studies, Naresuan University, Thailand. In March-May 2021, he was Visiting Fellow in the Thailand Studies Programme. ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.
ISEAS Perspective 2022/95, 23 September 2022
This year’s military and police reshuffles in Thailand, due to take effect on 1 October, saw the enhancement of monarchical power over appointments. Decisions regarding reshuffles represent crucial demonstrations of power — on the part of the king, of leading military, and police personalities, or of both working together. The military has seen 765 promotions, involving 18 female officers, while the police force saw 255 promotions, involving 10 female officers. Among military branches, there have been appointments involving 458 generals and 307 colonels or officers at colonel-equivalent rank. Among the police, there have been 169 promotions involving generals and 86 involving colonels. This is thus another year of top-heavy promotions to flag rank for both the Thai military and the country’s police.
CLASS AND FACTIONAL TIES IN THE RESHUFFLES
In Thailand, military promotions are inevitably based on political and personal ties. Shared educational experiences in pre-cadet academy classes have become the most fundamental linkage for soldiers and police due to the fact that almost all future officers attend the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School before enrolling in the specialised Navy, Air Force, Police, or Chulachomklao (Army) academies. Shared experiences in a particular military unit are another basis for factionalism. Factions connected to royalty tend also to have more power. The oldest of these is the Wongthewan or “Divine Progeny” faction, associated with the King’s Guard 1st Infantry Regiment. Wongthewan had enjoyed dominance over other Army factions from 1870 until 1978, and King Vajiralongkorn is himself a member of Wongthewan. The second most powerful Army faction is Burapha Phayak, the “Eastern Tigers”, representing the Second Infantry (and Cavalry) Division. This division is comprised of three regiments, but it is the 21st Infantry Regiment, known as the Thahan Suea Rachini or Queen’s Tiger Guards, that is closest to the palace. Queen Mother Sirikit remains its honorary commandant. After Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra began to enlist allies from among members of Wongthewan in 2003, arch-royalists used the more reliable Burapha Phayak faction to spearhead the 2006 coup, cobble together a 2008-2011 anti-Thaksin civilian government, and oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014. Retired-generals-turned-cabinet-ministers Acting Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, currently suspended Prime Minister and concurrent Defense Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda — “the three P’s” — all hail from Burapha Phayak. Though the faction prevailed in intra-service politics in 2007-2016, other Army factions continue to exist: not only Wongthewan, but also the Cavalry, the Special Forces (Muak Daeng or Red Berets), and the 9th Infantry Division (Suea Dam or Black Panthers).
Personalities also play a role in Army factionalism. This is due to the tremendous sway that some individuals possess. First and foremost, Thailand’s current king has sought to take an active role in military reshuffles, unlike his father and predecessor who opted for a more indirect role. Initiatives in this area on the part of the palace have translated into the king’s direct selection of Wongthewan faction members to serve as Army commanders, as in the cases of General Apirat Kongsompong (2018-2022) and General Narongphan Jitkaewthae (2020-2022). In 2018, King Vajiralongkorn established the Kho Daeng or Red Rim clique, whose members attend special short-term military training under royal sponsorship. Only Red Rim officers can now rise to top Army, Air Force, or Supreme Command postings. Meanwhile, though “the three Ps” have influenced military reshuffles over the last decade, growing tensions between Prayut and Prawit have, in recent times, contributed to disagreements between them over decisions relating to reshuffles. In the Police, the “Wongsuwan connection” is influential because Prawit’s brother, retired commander Police General Patcharawat, holds sway over senior police appointments. Prawit’s henchman Captain Thamanat Prompao, who has promoted Prawit’s interests against those of Prayut in Parliament, has pre-cadet class connections with newly-appointed military and police officers. Finally, individuals with some “big” family names have, by virtue of the charisma attached to their kinship ties, succeeded in securing palace support for senior appointments in the military and the police force.
WHAT’S NEW IN 2022?
The tables below group the 2022 leadership changes into six groups: 1) All security services, 2) The Police, 3) The Armed Forces Headquarters, 4) The Army; 5) The 1st Army Region, and 6) Additional crucial Army postings. Each table demonstrates that the year’s appointments have tended to go to either palace favourites or followed the preferences of the Burapha Phayak. Those preferences in turn reflect the influence of Prawit and/or Prayut. Officers from Pre-Cadet Class 22, to which Wongthewan member and Army commander General Narongphan Jitkaewthae belongs, have figured prominently in these appointments. Other classes whose members have received important posts in 2022 are Pre-Cadet Classes 23-26; selected members of these classes will lead Thailand’s military and police in future.
The Security Services as a Whole
The data in Table 1 indicate that the palace and Burapha Phayak—the latter as dominated by Prawit—are engaged in a tug-of-war for control over postings at this highest level of authority. The Navy and Air Force commanders are king’s men first and foremost. Incoming Navy chief Admiral Cherngchai Chomcherngpat and Air Force commander Air Chief Marshal Alongkorn Wannarot join their classmate Army chief General Narongphan in acting as the bulwark of monarchical interests. Admiral Cherngchai’s royalist ties are owed to his being part of a Navy faction connected to former Navy Chief Admiral Luechai Ruddit, brother of Privy Council member General Kampnat Ruddit. For his part, Armed Forces chief General Chalermpol Srisawat must walk a tightrope, as he is close both to the palace and to Burapha Phayak, the military faction to which he belongs. Like Narongphan, Chalermpol is also a member of the king’s Red Rim faction. Meanwhile, Prawit has ensured the appointment of one of his loyalists, Burapha Phayak member General Sanitchanok Sangkachan as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defense. This appointment serves to increase Prawit’s influence at the ministry — technically helmed by Prayut himself, in his capacity as defense minister.
Table 1: Key figures in the Security Services, 2022-2023. (Asterisks indicate new appointments.)
|Position||Name||Faction||Pre-cadet Class||Retirement Date|
|Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defense||General Sanitchanok Sangkachan*||Prawit Wongsuwan/ Burapha Phayak||24||2023|
|Commander, Armed Forces||General. Chalermpol Srisawat||Burapha Phayak/Thahan Suea Rachini/Cavalry/palace/ Red Rim||21||2023|
|Commander, Royal Thai Army||General. Narongphan Jitkaewthae||palace||22||2023|
|Commander, Royal Thai Navy||Admiral Cherngchai Chomcherngpatat*||palace (Narongphan)||22||2023|
|Commander, Royal Thai Air Force||Air Chief Marshal Alongkorn Wannarot*||palace (Narongphan)/Red Rim||22||2023|
|Commander, Royal Thai Police||Police General Damrongsak Kittiprapas*||Prawit and Patcharawat Wongsuwan||22/Police Academy Class 38||2023|
The annual Police reshuffle sheds light on an arena of competition between the palace and the police clique of Prawit’s brother Police General Patcharawat Wongsuwan, which includes former Police Generals Somyot Pumpanmuang and Chakthip Chaijinda. This faction was successful in seeking the appointment of Police General Damrongsak Kittiprapas as the new Police commander. At the same time, the Patcharawat-connected Damrongsak hails from the same pre-cadet class as Wongthewan Army chief Narongphan; Prawit may have had to bargain with the palace to ensure that Damrongsak received this posting.
Damrong’s accession to the post of Police commander could help Prawit in the upcoming general election because the police sometimes act as vote canvassers. Two other Wongsuwan minions who were promoted are Police Generals Kittirat Phunphet and Surachate Hakpan, each of whom has cultivated publicity and may one day rise to the post of Police commander. Kittirat is also a pre-cadet academy Class 25 classmate and friend of powerful Prawit minion and influential member of parliament, Captain Thammanat Prompao.
Three other leading police officials figuring in this year’s reshuffle enjoy the favour of the palace. One is Police General Suchart Teerasawat, an officer due to retire in 2023. In contrast, the other two have bright futures. General Torsak Sukvimol, the younger brother of Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household Air Chief Marshal Satitpong Sukvimol, was this year promoted to deputy Police chief and is likely to rise to the force’s top post upon Damrongsak’s retirement in 2023 and to serve until his own retirement in 2024. Police General Jirabhop Bhuridej—the younger brother of General Jakrapob Bhuridej, who is a commander of the Royal Security Command—is likely to become Police chief in the future.
Table 2: The six senior-most Police officers, 2022-2023. (Asterisks indicate new appointments.)
|Position||Name||Faction||Pre-cadet Class/Police Academy Class||Retirement Date|
|Police Commander||Police General Damrongsak Kittiprapas*||Prawit and Patcharawat Wongsuwan/ Narongphan||22/38||2023|
|Deputy Commander 1||Police General Chinnapat Sarasin*||Sarasin/Apirat||(did not attend pre-cadet academy)/40||2023|
|Deputy Commander 2||Police General Kittirat Phunphet*||Prawit and Patcharawat Wongsuwan||25/41||2026|
|Deputy Commander 3||Police General Torsak Sukvimol*||palace/ Sukvimol||(did not attend pre-cadet academy)/51||2024|
|Deputy Commander 4||Police General Surachate Hakpan*||Prawit and Patcharawat Wongsuwan||31/47||2031|
|Deputy Commander 5||Police General Suchart Teerasawat||palace||(did not attend pre-cadet academy)/36||2023|
|Commander, Central Investigation Bureau||Police General Jirabhop Bhuridej||palace/ Bhuridej||34/50||2037|
The Armed Forces Headquarters
Measured by firepower, Thailand’s Armed Forces Headquarters—formerly known as the Supreme Command—represents a weak entity relative to other security services, particularly the Army. Nevertheless, its leaders are symbolic in the projection of military unity, and the palace is extremely influential in determining headquarters postings. Table 3 presents a number of interesting data. First, the headquarters’ new chief of staff, General Thitichai Thienthong, is a distant relative of the ageing political baron Sanoh Thienthong, a close friend of Prawit’s. Furthermore, General Songwit Noonpakdi—the son of a former Army commander, a long-time Wongthewan faction member, and at the same time an officer who over the last three years was constantly demoted—has risen to become the deputy chief of the Armed Forces, in probable preparation to succeed Chalermpol as commander, or perhaps even to become Army Commander, in 2023. Songwit’s inexplicable resurrection is likely owed to the intervention of the king.
Table 3: The six senior-most Armed Forces Headquarters Officers, 2022-2023. (Asterisks indicate new appointments.)
|Position||Name||Faction||Pre-cadet Class||Retirement Date|
|Armed Forces Commander||General Chalermpol Srisawat||Burapha Phayak/Thahan Suea Rachini/ Cavalry/Red Rim||21||2023|
|Deputy Commander (Army)||General Songwit Noonpakdi*||Palace/Wongthewan/ Red Rim||24||2025|
|Deputy Commander (Army)||General. Sirawut Wongkhante*||palace||22||2023|
|Deputy Commander (Navy)||Admiral Sutinan Samanrak*||palace||22||2023|
|Deputy Commander (Air Force)||Air Chief Marshal Kongsak Chantarasopa*||palace/Red Rim||22||2023|
|Chief of Staff||General Tidichai Tienthong*||Prawit Wongsuwan/Sanoh Thienthong||24||2023|
The reshuffle in the Army, Thailand’s strongest security service, produced few surprises in 2022. Wongthewan Army commander Narongphan’s continued tenure overshadows the jump by two members of the pro-Prawit Burapha Phayak faction, Generals Jaroenchai Hintao and Suksan Nongbualuang, to become deputy and assistant Army commander, respectively. While this year’s remaining Army appointments have little relative significance, the palace may have a conundrum in 2023, namely the lack of a Wongthewan officer to whom to pass the Army commander’s torch following the retirement of Narongphan. The likelihood is that Burapha Phayak member Jaroenchai will succeed Narongphan; (see Table 4).
Table 4: The five senior-most Army officers, 2022-2023. (Asterisks indicate new appointments.)
|Position||Name||Faction||Pre-cadet Class||Retirement Date|
|Commander||General Narongphan Jitkaewthae||Palace/Wongthewan/Red Rim||22||2023|
|Deputy Commander||General Jaroenchai Hintao*||Prawit/ Burapha Phayak/Red Rim||23||2024|
|Assistant Commander 1||General Suksan Nongbualuang*||Prawit/ Burapha Phayak/Red Rim||23||2025|
|Assistant Commander 2||General Kriangkrai Srirak*||Wongthewan||22||2023|
|Chief of Staff||General Ukrist Buntanon*||Special Operations||24||2025|
The 1st Army Region
Soldiers stationed in the Army region covering Bangkok and the Central Plains are strategically positioned to thwart coups; its command and a range of others has for that reason been an extremely important post. In 2021, officers with a Burapha Phayak background held most leadership postings in the 1st Army Region; but in 2022, as Table 5 indicates, the new regional commander is General Pana Klaewplotthuk, a trusted Wongthewan officer who apparently has a proclivity for US military hardware. He is a candidate for eventual appointment as Army commander. The remaining deputy or cohort commanders in the region are all “Red Rim” soldiers; three have Wongthewan backgrounds, while two are members of the Burapha Phayak faction of the Army.
Table 5: The six senior-most 1st Army Region officers, 2022-2023. (Asterisks indicate new appointments.)
|Position||Name||Faction||Pre-cadet Class||Retirement Date|
|1st Army Region Commander||General Panaplotthuk*||palace/Wongthewan/Red Rim||26||2027|
|Cohort Commander||General Chinupong Raudsiri*||Prawit/Burapha Phayak/Red Rim||26||2027|
|Deputy Cohort Commander||General Tawatchai Thangpitakgul*||Apirat/Wongthewan/Red Rim||27||2028|
|Deputy 1st Army Region Commander||General. Amrit Bunsuya*||Burapha Phayak/Prayut/Red Rim||27||2029|
|Deputy 1st Army Region Commander||General Kraipop Chaipan*||Apirat/Wongthewan/Red Rim||24||2025|
|Deputy 1st Army Region Commander||General Worayot Luangsuwan*||Wongthewan/Red Rim||28||2029|
Seven additional new promotions also deserve mention. In the 3rd Army Region, covering Northern Thailand), incoming commander General Suriya Uemsuro hails from Army commander Narongphan’s pre-cadet Class 22—as does National Security Advisor General Supot Malaniyom. Meanwhile, in the Southern 4th Army Region, where a long-running Malay-Muslim insurrection persists, General Santi Sakuntanak has rather surprisingly been appointed 4th Army commander. Santi is a member of pre-cadet Class 25, like Captain Thammanat Prompao. However, it is rumoured that his appointment has come at the behest of the palace. Other postings have proved less surprising: the 1st and 11th Divisions, traditionally closest to the palace, are to be commanded by palace favourites, while the 2nd Infantry Division, home of the Burapha Phayak, will have a new chief who hails from that faction.
Table 6: Additional important Army positions, 2022-2023. (Asterisks designate new appointments.)
|Position||Name||Faction||Pre-cadet Class||Retirement Date|
|Secretary-General, National Security Council||General Supot Malaniyom||Cavalry||22||2023|
|Commander, Second Army Region||General Sawarat Saengpol||Surasakmontri Task Force||23||2024|
|Commander, Third Army Region||General Suriya Uemsuro*||Narongphan (Wongthewan)||22||2023|
|Commander, Fourth Army Region||General Santi Sakuntanak||Wongthewan/ palace||25||2026|
|Commander, Special Forces Warfare Center||General Issara Damrongsak*||Special Forces||27||2028|
|Commander, 1st Infantry Division||Colonel Natadej Jantharangsu*||palace||28||2029|
|Commander, 2nd Infantry Division (“Eastern Tigers”)||General Sarawut Chaiyasit*||Burapha Phayak||28||2030|
|Commander, 9th Infantry Division||Colonel Wutiya Janthamat*||9th Infantry Division (“Black Panthers”)||28||2030|
|Commander, 11th Infantry Division||Colonel Ekanan Maobutr*||palace||30||2032|
With a general election due no later than May 2023, guaranteeing palace-led political stability in Thailand’s military and police is essential to the interests of the state and of the elites. These security services must not only effectively enforce election results but also quell potential protests and ensure effective counterinsurgency in the Deep South. The 2022 military and police reshuffles reflect an attempt on the part of the monarch to enhance palace proactivity in a year that has seen differences between Prawit and Prayut grow. The Constitutional Court temporarily forced Prayut to step down as prime minister in August, and Prawit temporarily succeeded him until a court decision regarding Prayut’s eligibility to extend his tenure as prime minister can be made. The unpopular Prayut’s political career looks to be increasingly on the rocks; and the frail Prawit is 77 years old. Meanwhile, the palace appears to be backing new potential Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul of the military-allied Bhumjaithai Party.
Paralleling these developments in the political arena, the king seems to have intervened in military and police reshuffles, ensuring that arch-royalists whom he trusts assume the top leadership positions. His initiative appears particularly clear in 1) the continued service of Wongthewan Army commander General Narongphan; 2) the promotion of arch-royalist offiders Admiral Cherngchai and Air Chief Marshal Alongkorn to serve as Navy and Air Force commanders; 3) the promotion of Wongthewan General Pana to command the 1st Army Region; 4) preparation for the likely promotion of palace-connected Police General Torsak Sukvimol to command the police in 2023; and 5) the likely appointment of Wongthewan General Songwit Noonpakdi as commander of the Armed Forces. The only fly in the ointment is that the Burapha Phayak faction’s General Jaroenchai could well succeed General Narongphan as Army commander. At the same time, the already overarching dominance of the palace in the security realm may mean that that move would matter relatively little. If the next election pushes “the three Ps” out of the government, then their direct influence over reshuffles will come to an end, leaving the king to extend his sway over such appointments even further. If, however, one or all of those three officers should continue to exert influence over reshuffles, then the jousting match between the Burapha Phayak faction and the palace—so evident in military appointments—is likely to continue.
One aspect of Thailand’s military and police reshuffles remains certain. Since 2008, these reshuffles have remained under the control of the palace and senior security officials; elected civilians have no legal right to influence them. This is despite the fact that civilian control over reshuffles is necessary to enhance democracy in Thailand.
 “ประกาศสำนักนายกรัฐมนตรี เรื่อง ให้นายทหารรับราชการ” [ Prime Minister’s Office announcement regarding military reshuffle], Royal Gazette, volume 139, section 2213, 10 September 2022 (http://www.ratchakitcha.soc.go.th/DATA/PDF/2565/E/213/T_0001.PDF).
 “ประกาศสำนักนายกรัฐมนตรี เรื่อง แต่งตั้งข้าราชการตำรวจ”[Prime Minister’s Office announcement of Police reshuffle], Royal Gazette, volume 139, section 209, 7 September 2022 (http://www.ratchakitcha.soc.go.th/DATA/PDF/2565/E/209/T_0027.PDF).
 See Supalak Ganjanakhundee, A Soldier King: Monarchy and Military in the Thailand of Rama X. (Singapore: ISEAS, 2022).
 Anupong’s nickname is “Big Pok”; hence his resultant status as a “P”. See Komchadluek, “พี่น้อง 3ป”. “ประวิตร” เปิดบ้านปั้น อนุพงษ์ – ประยุทธ์ – คมชัดลึก.” [Brothers 3P “Prawit” opens wide the house of Anupong-Prayut], 20 October 2021 (https://www.komchadluek.net/scoop/481858).
 Paul Chambers, “‘Red Rim Soldiers’: The Changing Leadership of Thailand’s Military in 2020”, New Mandala, 21 September 2020 (https://www.newmandala.org/the-changing-leadership-of-thailands-military-in-2020/).
 Komchadleuk, “เสี่ยงยึด ‘ประยุทธ์-ประวิตร’ ผ่าซีก พปชร. หยุดยื้อเวลา” [Take the Risk of Seizing “Prayut-Prawit”, slicing the Democratic Party, Stopping Time”], 26 February 2022 (https://www.komchadluek.net/scoop/504341).
 Matichon, “โปรดเกล้าฯ นายพล 765 นาย ‘บิ๊กหนุ่ม’ ผงาดปลัดกห. ‘บิ๊กจอร์จ-บิ๊กตุ๊ด’ ผบ.ทร.-ผบ.ทอ.” [765 Military Appointments including “Big Num,” Permanent Secretary of Defense; “Big George-Big Thood”, Commanders of the Navy, Air Force], 10 September 2022 ( https://www.matichon.co.th/politics/news_35560470.
 Krungthep Thurakit, “ผ่าขุมกำลัง ’ประวิตร’ พยัคฆ์บูรพา ป้อแป้แต่สุดปึ้ก” [Excision of the power of “Prawit” and Phayak Burapha, but extremely flabby], 28 August 2022 (https://www.bangkokbiznews.com/blogs/news/news_update/1023445); Krungthep Thurakit, “เคาะแล้ว พล.ต.อ.ดำรงศักดิ์ กิตติประภัสร์ ผบ.ตร. คนที่ 13” [Knocked, Pol. Gen. Damrongsak Kittiprapas, the 13th Commander-in-Chief of the Police], 29 August 2022 (https://www.bangkokbiznews.com/politics/1023600).
 BBC Thai, “ต่อศักดิ์ สุขวิมล: ผู้บัญชาการ ตร. สอบสวนกลางคนใหม่ กับคติ ‘ทำงานในตำแหน่งที่เราได้รับให้ดีที่สุด’” [Torsak Sukwimol: The new commander of the Central Investigative Police with the motto “Do the best job in the position we have been given”], 25 September 2020 (https://www.bbc.com/thai/thailand-54239870).
 BBC Thai, “‘ตั๋วช้าง’: เส้นทางสู่ ผบ.ตร. ของ จิรภพ ภูริเดช และ สำราญ นวลมา ในอีก 10 ปี” [“Elephant Tickets”: the path to the police chiefs of Jirabhop Bhuridejand Samran Nuanma in 10 years”], 3 October 2021 (https://www.bbc.com/thai/58770346).
 Chinnapat is the son of the late politician and Police chief General Pao Sarasin and is thus a member of one of Thailand’s most storied politico-bureaucratic families. He is also close to former Army commander and current Royal Household Bureau vice chamberlain, General Apirat Kongsompong.
 The Standard, “เส้นทางชีวิต ‘พล.อ. ประวิตร วงษ์สุวรรณ’ จากนายทหารสู่ถนนการเมือง ก่อนขยับเป็น ‘รักษาการนายก’” [The life path of “Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan” from military officer to political road before moving to “Acting Prime Minister”], 24 August 24 2022 (https://thestandard.co/prawit-wongsuwan-way/).
 Matichon, “โปรดเกล้าฯ นายพล 765 นาย ‘บิ๊กหนุ่ม’ ผงาดปลัดกห. ‘บิ๊กจอร์จ-บิ๊กตุ๊ด’ ผบ.ทร.-ผบ.ทอ.”.
 Royal intervention could alternatively see deputy Armed Forces commander Gen. Songwit Noonpakdi succeed Narongphan—despite Songwit not having obtained his military education in Thailand, a traditional obstacle to any command appointment. A direct promotion from the Armed Forces headquarters to Army commander is not unprecedented: palace-favoured General Surayud Chulanond, who currently chairs the Privy Council, followed the same path in 1998.
 Krungthep Turakit, “นับถอยหลัง สิ้นอำนาจ ’3 ป.’ “กองทัพ” เปลี่ยนขั้ว รับการเมืองใหม่” [Countdown. End of power of “3 Ps” “Army” changes orientation, gets new politics], 12 September 2022 (https://www.bangkokbiznews.com/politics/1026151).
 Isranews, “‘บิ๊กเกรียง’ ผงาดผู้ช่วย ผบ.ทบ. – ‘พล.ต.ศานติ’ ขึ้นแม่ทัพ 4” [“Big Krieng” emerges as assistant commander-in-chief of Royal Thai Army – ‘Major General Santi’ as commander of 4th Army”], 10 September 2022 ( https://www.isranews.org/article/south-news/scoop/111938-santicommander.html); interview with retired senior army officer, 10 September 2022.
 The Surasakmontri Task Force, created in 1978 and upgraded in 1995, is a special Army unit charged with handling special operations such as anti-smuggling activities, in the northern part of Thailand’s Northeastern region.
 For a discussion on the controversy over how long Prayut is eligible to remain prime minister under the terms of the 2017 Constitution, see Wassana Nanuam, Mongkol Bangprapa and Aekarach Sattaburuth, “PM Tenure Ruling September 30,” Bangkok Post, 15 September 2022 (https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/politics/2391730/pm-tenure-ruling-sept-30).
 See section 25, พระราชบัญญัติ จัดระเบียบราชการกระทรวงกลาโหม [Act on the Organization of the Ministry of Defense], Royal Gazette volume 125, part 26, q February 2008 (https://www.rtaf.mi.th/th/Documents/Law/%E0%B8%9E%E0%B8%A3%E0%B8%9A%20%E0%B8%88%E0%B8%B1%E0%B8%94%E0%B8%A3%E0%B8%B0%E0%B9%80%E0%B8%9A%E0%B8%B5%E0%B8%A2%E0%B8%9A%E0%B8%A3%E0%B8%B2%E0%B8%8A%E0%B8%81%E0%B8%B2%E0%B8%A3%E0%B8%81%E0%B8%A3%E0%B8%B0%E0%B8%97%E0%B8%A3%E0%B8%A7%E0%B8%87%E0%B8%81%E0%B8%A5%E0%B8%B2%E0%B9%82%E0%B8%AB%E0%B8%A1_2551.pdf).
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