Royal Thai Army

The Royal Thai Army or RTA (Thai: กองทัพบกไทย; RTGSkong thap bok thai) is the army of Thailand and the oldest and largest branch of the Royal Thai Armed Forces.

Royal Thai Army
Emblem of the Royal Thai Army.svg
Emblem of the Royal Thai Army
Founded8 May 1874 (146 years)
AllegianceKing of Thailand
RoleGround warfare
Size245,000 (est.)[1]
Part ofRoyal Thai Armed Forces
HQRoyal Thai Army Headquarters, Ratchadamnoen Avenue, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok
Motto(s)เพื่อชาติ ศาสน์ กษัตริย์ และประชาชน ("For the Nation, Religions, Monarchy, and People")
(Army March)
Anniversaries18 January
(Royal Thai Armed Forces Day)
Commander-in-chiefGeneral Apirat Kongsompong
Phraya Phahonphonphayuhasena
Plaek Phibunsongkhram
Sarit Thanarat
Thanom Kittikachorn
Prem Tinsulanonda
Chavalit Yongchaiyudh
Suchinda Kraprayoon
Surayud Chulanont
Sonthi Boonyaratglin
Prayut Chan-o-cha
Royal Thai Army FlagFlag of the Royal Thai Army.svg
Unit colourRoyal Thai Army Unit Colour.svg
Aircraft symbolRoundel of Thailand – Army Aviation.svg



The Royal Thai Army is responsible for protecting the kingdom's sovereignty. The army was formed in 1874, partly as a response to new security threats following the 1855 Bowring Treaty with Britain, which opened the country for international trade.[2]


On 22 May 2014 the army deposed the government, appointed military officers to the national assembly, and on 21 August 2014 they elected the army's Commander in Chief, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, as prime minister. The general retired October 2014[3] to concentrate on political reform which he said would take at least a year, following which he promised national elections would be held.[4]

In modern era, the army has a long history of coups d'état and coup attempts. Its leadership continues to see coup-making as one role of the army.[5][6][7]

Command and controlEdit

The Ministry of Defence, Bangkok

The number of army generals is unclear. One point of comparison: as of 1 November 2019, the US Army had 322 general officers[8]:2 for a force of 471,990 troops.[9] Saiyud Kerdphol is Thailand's oldest general, a veteran of World War II and Korea who retired in 1983 as supreme commander. During his tenure, general officer numbers were based on the number of troops under their command. As of 2019, only 150–200 four-star generals occupy command positions. Speaking on the topic of army manpower, Saiyud declared that, "Everybody being a general is unbelievable. Full generals don't have a seat to sit in or a job to do."[10]

The Royal Army is commanded by the Commander of the Royal Thai Army (ผู้บัญชาการทหารบกไทย).
This position is considered the most powerful position in the Thai Armed Forces.[11] As of 1 October 2018, the commander is General Apirat Kongsompong.[12][13][14]

  • Commander-in-Chief: General Apirat Kongsompong from 1 October 2018.[15][16]
  • Deputy Commander-in-Chief: General Nattaphon Narkphanit from 1 October 2018.
  • Assistant Commander-in-Chief: General Sunai Praphuchanay from 1 October 2019.
  • Assistant Commander-in-Chief: General Narongpan Jittkaewtae from 1 October 2019.
  • Chief of Staff of the Army: General Teerawat Boonyawat from 1 October 2018.


The army is divided into four army areas:

King's Guard at Grand Palace
First Army
1st Division, King's Guard
2nd Cavalry Division
Locations of the army's major units in Bangkok
Locations of the army's major units in Thailand
11th Infantry Regiment, King's Guard
Royal Thai Army welcome members of Cobra Gold 2016

The creation of the 15th Infantry Division was announced in January 2005.[19] Defence Minister, General Samphan Boonyanan, was quoted as saying that the new unit, dubbed the "Development Division", would not be a combat unit for fighting Islamic militants, but rather its main mission would be to assist local citizens and develop the region. The military will not ignore its general function of providing safety for the citizens of the region, he added. He said that troops for the new division would undergo training to give them a good understanding of local residents, the vast majority of whom are ethnic Malay Muslims. The division is in fact a transformation of the Pranburi-based 16th Infantry Division. It will now be headquartered at Fort Ingkhayutthaborihan in Pattani, complete with its battalions and companies of military police and communications and aviation personnel, he said. It will also have three separate infantry battalions, one each in Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat. Each battalion will include three companies of medical, engineering, and psychological warfare personnel, he said. The government will allocate a budget of more than 18 billion baht for the division over the next four years.[20]

The 15th Infantry Division is being established as a permanent force to handle security problems in the Deep South. The division is based in Pattani and is expected to have a combined force of around 10,000. The establishment of this new division, approved by the government in 2005, has yet to be completed. As of this writing, some 7,000 troops deployed in the Deep South are affiliated to this division."[21] In 2012, two new combat formations had been approved by the thai government. The new 7th Infantry Division is based at Mae Rim, near Chiang Mai, and the new 3rd Cavalry Division is based at Khon Kaen.[22]

Tactical unitsEdit

The army is organised into the following formations:

  • Nine infantry divisions (including 16 tank battalions)
  • One armoured division
  • Three cavalry divisions (light armoured divisions)
  • One Special Warfare Command trained and equipped for small unit Special forces and airborne operations

The Army Tactical Level Advanced Simulation (ATLAS) is an interactive, distributed, constructive simulation used to conduct military Command Post Exercises (CPX). ATLAS displays a continuous terrain model, incorporates HLA 1516, and displays 1:250,000 and 1:50,000 maps and satellite imagery. ATLAS was developed between 2002–2005 through co-operation with the Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC).

Army Medical DepartmentEdit

Army Medical Department (AMED) (กรมแพทย์ทหารบก) belongs to the service segment of the Royal Thai Army. It is in charge of medical affairs, and providing medical care, both in the field and on base, training personnel in research and agriculture and supervising the other medical divisions within the Royal Thai Army.

AMED observed 111 years of service in January 2011,[23] with 110 years of service having been honoured by issue of a series of commemorative stamps.[24] AMED operates Phramongkutklao Hospital in Bangkok and Ananda Mahidol Hospital in Lopburi, along with smaller hospitals at each fort, as well as Phramongkutklao College of Medicine (PCM).

Air DivisionEdit

Thai army infantrymen board a RTA UH-1 Iroquois helicopter, 1992
UH-60L Black Hawk during air show at Don Mueang Air Force Base
Mil Mi-17 V5 during air show at Don Mueang Air Force Base

Royal Thai Army Aviation Center (กองบินทหารบกไทย) belongs to the service segment of the Royal Thai Army Areas:

  • Don Mueang International Airport (VTBD)
    • Units include the VIP squadron, flying two Embraer ERJ-135LRs (serial number 1084/HS-AMP and serial number 1124), two Jetstream 41s (serial numbers 41060 and 41094), two Casa 212–300s (serial numbers 446 and 447), and two Beech 1900C-1s (serial numbers 0169 and 0170) and the 1st Infantry Battalion operating two Bell 206Bs (serial numbers 4422 and 4448), three Schweizer S-300Cs (serial numbers 1340, 1366 and 1367), and two Cessna U-17B FAC aircraft (serial numbers 1616 and 1617).
  • Bang Khen (3 km south of Don Mueang)
    • The Royal Squadron flies three Bell 212s and two Bell 412s (serial numbers 36332 and 36333). There is also a special transport unit flying around 10–12 Bell 212s and one or two Bell 206s.
UH-60L Black Hawk during air show at Don Mueang Air Force Base
  • Fort Surasi (Kanchanaburi)
    • The 9th Infantry Division operates two Bell 206Bs (the serial number of one is 4424), and two or three Schweizer S-300Cs. There is also a detachment of UH-1Hs from an Air Mobility Company based here.
  • Fort Chakraphong (Prachinburi)
    • The "2nd Infantry Division, Queen Sirikit's Guard", was operating two Bell 206Bs (serial numbers 4446 and 4361), three Schweizer S-300Cs (serial numbers 1343, 1344, and 1345), and two Maule MX-7s (one serial number known is 099) in 2004, however it is likely the Maule MX-7s may now not be operated by this unit now. A detachment of this unit (with, in 1998, one Bell 206 and one Maule MX-7) was operating from Watthana Nakhon (VTBW) near the Cambodian border.
AH-1F Cobra attack helicopter during air show at Don Mueang Air Force Base
  • Phitsanulok Airport (VTPP)
    • Loc 16 degrees 46'58.58N,100 degrees 16'44.84E elevation 154 feet/47 metres.
    • Runway 14/32 length 9,843 x 148 feet (3,000 x 45 metres)
    • Operating from here is the 4th Infantry Battalion with Bell 206Bs, Schweizer S-300Cs, Cessna U-17Bs, and Maule MX-7s.
  • Fort Suranari (Khorat)
    • The main flying unit here is the 3rd Infantry Battalion flying two Bell 206Bs (serial numbers 4396 and 4447), two Schweizer S-300Cs (serial numbers 1337 and 1339), and two Cessna U-17Bs (serial numbers 1454 and 1618).
    • This field also hosts a detachment of up to three Bell 212 helicopters from one of the Air Mobility Companies.
  • Fort Princess Srinagarindra (Lopburi), the main base complex of Royal Thai Army Aviation, including training, technical school, aircraft maintenance, and aircraft storage. The main airfield here is called Sa Pran Nak (VTBH).
    • Loc 14 degrees 56'58.02N, 100 degrees 38'34.88E elevation 95 feet (29 metres).
    • Runways 01/19 3,300 x 98 feet (1,006 x 30 metres) and 06/24 3,890 x 98 feet (1,186 x 30 metres)
    • Operating units here include:
      • Gong Bin Bau ( Light Aviation Company ) – operating Cessna U-17Bs, Cessna T-41s, and Searcher MKIIs
      • Gong Bin Pee-ak Moon Tee Nung ( 1st Air Mobility Company ) – operating Bell UH-1Hs and Bell 212s
      • Gong Bin Pee-ak Moon Tee Song ( 2nd Air Mobility Company ) – operating Bell UH-1Hs (US Excess Defense Articles Program) and Bell 212s
      • Gong Bin Pee-ak Moon Tee Sam ( 3rd Air mobility Company ) – operating Bell UH-1Hs, Bell 206Bs, Bell AH-1F Huey Cobras (eight) and Bell 212s
      • Gong Bin Pee-ak Moon Tee Gou (pasom) ( 9th Air Mobility Company ) [Mixed]) – operating Bell UH-1Hs (US Excess Defense Articles Program) and Sikorsky S-70-43 Black Hawks (six) with six more on order.
      • Gong Bin Sanub-sanoon Tua Pai (General Support Aviation Battalion) – operating Boeing CH-47D Chinooks, Bell UH-1Hs, and Mil Mi-17V5s
      • The army aviation centre is based here, which conducts conversion training for the army. Types operated are Cessna T-41Bs (ex-US army surplus), Maule MX-7s, and Schweizer S-300C piston trainer helicopters.
      • The two former VIP Beechcraft 200 King Air aeroplanes (serial numbers 0342 and 1165), are also based here. Their present role is unknown. These aeroplanes were modified in the US in the late 1990s.
    • A separate airfield within the Lopburi complex (around 3 km south of Sa Pran Nak) houses the 5th Aircraft Maintenance Company. This unit is responsible for maintenance and storage of army aircraft and helicopters.
    • The 5th Infantry Division operates the following aviation assets from a small airfield within the army reserve at Nakhon Si Thammarat (not at the airport): two Bell 206B-3s (serial numbers 4382 and 4427), three Schweizer TH-300Cs (serial numbers 1371, 1372, and 1373) and two Maule MX-7s (serial numbers 114 and 115). A detachment of helicopters can be found here from the Air Mobility Companies based at Lopburi.

Military districtsEdit

The army is divided into districts, whereby the first digit of the district indicates the army (first, second, third or fourth) that operates it. The names of forts are from locations or influential figures in Thailand's history. These are as follows:

Military district number Provinces under control Headquarters location
11 Bangkok, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan Laksi, Bangkok
12 Prachinburi, Nakhon Nayok, Chachoengsao Fort Chakraphong, Prachinburi
13 Lopburi, Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Ang Thong Fort King Narai Maharat, Lopburi
14 Chonburi, Rayong Fort Nawaminthrachini, Chonburi
15 Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan Fort Ramratchaniwet, Phetchaburi
16 Ratchaburi, Samut Songkhram, Samut Sakhon Fort Phanurangsi, Ratchaburi
17 Kanchanaburi, Suphan Buri Fort Surasi, Kanchanaburi
18 Saraburi, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Fort Adisorn, Saraburi
19 Sa Kaeo, Chanthaburi, Trat Fort Surasinghanat, Sa Kaeo
21 Nakhon Ratchasima, Chaiyaphum Fort Suranari, Nakhon Ratchasima
22 Ubon Ratchathani, Amnat Charoen Fort Sapphasitthiprasong, Ubon Ratchathani
23 Khon Kaen, Kalasin Fort Sripatcharin, Khon Kaen
24 Udon Thani, Nong Khai Fort Prachaksinlapakhom, Udon Thani
25 Surin, Sisaket Fort Weerawatyothin, Surin
26 Buriram, Maha Sarakham Fort Somdej Chao Phraya Kasatsuek, Buriram
27 Roi Et, Yasothon Fort Prasertsongkhram, Roi Et
28 Loei, Nong Bua Lamphu Fort Srisongrak, Loei
29 Sakon Nakhon, Bueng Kan Fort Kritsiwara, Sakon Nakhon
210 Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan Fort Phra Yod Mueang Khwang, Nakhon Phanom
31 Nakhon Sawan, Kamphaeng Phet, Uthai Thani Fort Chiraprawat, Nakhon Sawan
32 Lampang Fort Surasak Montri, Lampang
33 Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, Lamphun Fort Kawila, Chiang Mai
34 Phayao Fort Khun Chueang Thammikkarat, Phayao
35 Uttaradit, Phrae Fort Phichai Dabhak, Uttaradit
36 Phetchabun, Phichit Fort Phokhun Pha Mueang, Phetchabun
37 Chiang Rai Fort King Mengrai Maharat, Chiang Rai
38 Nan Fort Suriyaphong, Nan
39 Phitsanulok, Sukhothai Fort King Naresuan Maharat, Phitsanulok
310 Tak Fort Wachiraprakan, Tak
41 Nakhon Si Thammarat (except Thung Song District), Phuket Fort Vajiravudh, Nakhon Si Thammarat
42 Songkhla, Phatthalung, Satun Fort Senanarong, Songkhla
43 Nakhon Si Thammarat (only Thung Song District), Krabi, Trang Fort Thep Satri Srisunthorn, Nakhon Si Thammarat
44 Chumphon, Ranong Fort Khet Udomsak, Chumphon
45 Surat Thani, Phang Nga Fort Vibhavadi Rangsit, Surat Thani
46 Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala Fort Ingkhayutthaborihan, Pattani


Army of Thailand in Haw wars (1875)
The Siamese Expeditionary Force in Paris, 1919
Thailand soldiers arriving at Busan
Five statues honour the army, navy, air force, police, and populace at Victory Monument.


Rank structureEdit

OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) & Student officer
จอมพล พลเอก พลโท พลตรี พลจัตวา พันเอก พันโท พันตรี ร้อยเอก ร้อยโท ร้อยตรี นักเรียนนายร้อย
Field Marshal General Lieutenant General Major General Brigadier Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Sub Lieutenant Cadet Officer
NATO code
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
        No equivalent         No insignia
จ่าสิบเอกพิเศษ จ่าสิบเอก จ่าสิบโท จ่าสิบตรี สิบเอก สิบโท สิบตรี สิบตรีกองประจำการ พลทหาร
Master Sergeant 1st Class
(special rank)
Master Sergeant 1st Class Master Sergeant 2nd Class Master Sergeant 3rd Class Sergeant Corporal Lance Corporal Private 1st Class Private

Businesses and infrastructureEdit

The army owns more than 30 golf courses nationwide. The army also owns boxing stadia, 100 petrol stations, racecourses, hotels, retail and coffee shops, and radio and television airwaves (by one count, the armed forces have ownership in 537 radio and TV stations).[25] In early 2020, the army entered an agreement with the Finance Ministry to turn over to the ministry the management of businesses unrelated to the army's mission.[26][27][28] In a related move, army commander Generak Apirat Kongsompong decreed that retired generals must move out of army-owned housing to free space for serving officers. As of 2020, about 100 retired generals and colonels inhabit army accommodations.[29] Some ex-generals, like PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan were exempted immediately from eviction because of their "contribution to society".[30] The Thai Defence Ministry position is that there is no law prohibiting retired officers from occupying military housing.[31]


Radio and television channel listEdit

Free-to-air TVEdit

  • TV5 HD1
  • Channel 7 operated by Bangkok Broadcasting & Television Company Limited (BBTV)

Satellite TVEdit


  • Royal Thai Army Radio Network, all 126 stations

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ บำรุงสุข, สุรชาติ (18 July 2019). "เปิดข้อมูลอำนาจกำลังรบไทย". Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  2. ^ "The Royal Thai Army | 42nd Military Circle". 1 October 2010. Archived from the original on 18 August 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  3. ^ "Thailand's new army chief takes office - DW - 01.10.2010". DW.COM. Archived from the original on 14 July 2015. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  4. ^ "Thailand's Junta Chief Chosen as Prime Minister". Voice of America. 21 August 2014. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  5. ^ Achakulwisut, Apinya (23 October 2018). "Army at the centre of our vicious circle" (Opinion). Bangkok Post. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  6. ^ "The CURSE of an Army always ready to pounce" (Opinion). The Nation. 23 October 2018. Archived from the original on 23 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  7. ^ Nanuam, Wassana (18 October 2019). "Army chief refuses to rule out fresh coup". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  8. ^ Kapp, Lawrence (1 February 2019). General and Flag Officers in the U.S. Armed Forces: Background and Considerations for Congress (R44389, v.5, updated ed.). Washington DC: Congressional Research Service (CRS). Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  9. ^ "Active and reserve U.S. military force personnel numbers by service branch and reserve component in 2018". Statistica. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  10. ^ Faulder, Dominic (31 December 2019). "Thailand: Land of a thousand generals". Nikkei Asian Review. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  11. ^ "Apirach set to become Army chief in military appointments". The Nation. 20 July 2018. Archived from the original on 19 July 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  12. ^ Nanuam, Wassana (29 September 2018). "New chief to 'strengthen' army". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  13. ^ Chambers, Paul (18 October 2016). "Guardian of the kingdom". New Mandala. Archived from the original on 19 October 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  14. ^ Macan-Markar, Marwaan (8 September 2017). "Thai military maneuvers to stay on top". Nikkei Asian Review. Archived from the original on 8 September 2017. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  15. ^ a b Nanuam, Wassana (3 September 2018). "Army reshuffle sees loyalists appointed". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  16. ^ McDonald, Taylor (29 September 2018). "2019 Thai election result: generals win". ASEAN Economist. Archived from the original on 29 September 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  17. ^ 06BANGKOK3883, 'Southern Violence: The army takes the lead,' 30 June 2006, para 8.
  18. ^ "3rd Special Forces Regiment (official Thai website)". Royal Thai Army 3rd Special Forces Regiment. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  19. ^ Robert Karniol, 'Thailand boosts military in troubled south,' Jane's Defence Weekly, 23 February 2005, Vol. 42, No. 8, p. 12
  20. ^ Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, New Thai army regiment to battle southern militants [sic – this is a division], BBC Monitoring International Reports, 16 February 2005.
  21. ^ International Crisis Group, 'Update Briefing: Stalemate in Southern Thailand,' Asia Briefing No. 113, Bangkok/Brussels, 3 November 2010, 3
  22. ^ Interview: Sukumpol Suwanatat, Air Chief Marshal and Minister of Defence, JDW 15 August 2012, Vol. 49, Issue 33, 34.
  23. ^ "111 Years". Archived from the original on 9 August 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  24. ^ "110 Years of Army Medical Department, RTA. Commemorative Stamps". Catalog. SiamStamp. 25 November 2009. Archived from the original on 29 November 2010. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
  25. ^ Yonpiam, Chairith (15 February 2020). "Apirat's vow to reform military misses the mark" (Opinion). Bangkok Post. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  26. ^ Nanuam, Wassana (18 February 2020). "Army gives up cash cows". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  27. ^ Nanuam, Wassana (13 February 2020). "Army to cede schemes to professionals". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  28. ^ Pongsudhirak, Thitinan (14 February 2020). "Underpinnings of a Thai mass shooting" (Opinion). Bangkok Post. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  29. ^ Nanuam, Wassana (19 February 2020). "Retired generals, colonels still occupy about 100 army homes". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  30. ^ Rojanaphruk, Pravit (14 February 2020). "Retired Soldiers Ordered to Vacate Army Residences—Except Prayut". Khaosod English. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  31. ^ "Overstayers 'not breaking law': Govt". Bangkok Post. 21 February 2020. Retrieved 21 February 2020.

External linksEdit