PM says military to be downsized and generals reduced by half within 8 years
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told members of parliament, on the final scheduled day of the censure debate, that the Defence Ministry is determined to reform the military by downsizing the three armed forces to become more efficient and modern, with the aim of cutting the number of generals in half by the year 2028.
Speaking in his capacity as the Defence Minister, the Prime Minister stressed the necessity of strengthening the capabilities of the armed forces through procurement of modern armaments, such as submarines, to place them on a par with neighbouring countries, not for the purpose of war preparedness but to enhance bargaining power.
He said that the procurement of weaponry is carefully planned in advance and in accordance with the annual budgetary allocation.
Regarding the downsizing of the military, the Prime Minister cited, for instance, that the number of tanks in each cavalry battalion has been reduced from 51 to 44, and armoured cars from 96 to 81.
Noting that marine resources in Thai waters are estimated to be worth 24 trillion baht annually, including the value of exports and imports carried on about 15,000 freighters, the Prime Minister said that it was necessary for Thailand to have submarines, in addition to surface ships, to protect assets in Thai waters.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan claimed that he was not involved in the procurement of Chinese submarines, as alleged by opposition MPs who claimed that he might have benefited from the deal.