6 June 2024

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang had an informal meeting over lunch today (Sunday) with the military’s new top brass for familiarisation and an exchange of views.

The top brass were the newly appointed commanders of the three armed forces and the supreme commander, who will assume their posts on October 1st. They were Supreme Commander Gen Songwit Noonpakdee, Army Commander-in-Chief Gen Charoenchai Hinthao, Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Adung Pan-iam and Air Force Commander-in-Chief ACM Punpakdee Pattanakul.

An informed government source said that, since both Srettha and Sutin are civilians with no military background, they want to receive input directly from the top brass, before the coalition parties’ policies on military affairs are incorporated in the government’s policy statement, to be delivered in parliament this week.

Earlier, military leaders had expressed concerns over some of the policies announced by the Pheu Thai and Move Forward parties during their election campaigns, which included the scrapping of mandatory conscription, substantial defence budget cuts and the dissolution of the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC).

An informed source said that the prime minister assured the top brass that his government would not cut the defence procurement budget, which is deemed to be necessary.

Sutin, a veteran politician, is currently calling on former defence ministers, to seek their advice in preparation for his role as defence minister.

He met yesterday with former defence minister Thammarak Israngkura Na Ayudhaya. He will also meet with Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, Gen Chetta Thanajaro and ACM Sukampol Suwannathat, as well as defence experts, such as Surachart Bamrungsuk at the Faculty of Political Science of Chulalongkorn University.

Sutin is also looking for a qualified secretary. One of the candidates is former defence permanent secretary, Gen Niphat Thonglek.