Thailand History

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With increased funding for instructional purposes and with guidance from JUSMAG personnel stationed in the country, the Thai armed forces continued to improve their ability to handle sophisticated weapons and to employ the tactics of modern warfare. Over the years, Thailand expanded its training facilities, sent a large number of Thai officers to the United States for military instruction, and augmented conventional training with counterinsurgency instruction.

New army conscripts customarily underwent a sixteen-week program of instruction, half devoted to basic training and half to more specialized requirements. This initial program was followed by three-phase unit training cycle that lasted the rest of the first year. Roughly two months were allotted to instruction and testing in squad and platoon tactics. Next came a second phase consisting of exercises at company and battalion levels. The third phase usually included some form of battalion maneuver.

Naval basic training lasted from eight to eleven weeks, depending on the ultimate assignment of the conscript. The course covered the elementary aspects of seamanship, navigation, ordnance, gunnery, and damage-control procedures. Marine recruits received the same basic training, but those selected for advanced training received additional instruction in counterinsurgency amphibious warfare. Unit training was generally conducted at the naval squadron level. Shipboard drills, including team gunnery and other underway operations, took place throughout the entire instruction cycle.

The training program of the Royal Thai Air Force was patterned on that of its American counterpart. Upon completion of basic training, recruits and conscripts were selected for more advanced programs. Flight training for pilots and other aircrew members was conducted at Khorat Air Base (near Nakhon Ratchasima). Most air technical instruction took place at the school complex assigned to Don Muang Air Base near Bangkok.

More advanced training was provided by the specialized schools of each branch of the armed forces and the entire system of military education coordinated by the Directorate of Education and Research at Supreme Command Headquarters. This directorate also supervised the operation of the combined and special service schools, such as the National Defense College and the Armed Forces Staff College. The National Defense College in Bangkok was the highest level military school in the country. Its major objective was to foster cooperation between senior military and civilian authorities in planning and directing national security activities. Its course of instruction, conducted for a limited number of high-ranking military, police, and civilian officials each year, covered military, political, and economic subjects. The Armed Forces Staff College in Bangkok, the second highest military school, was intended to produce senior general staff officers who were qualified to serve on joint or combined staffs. Annual enrollment was confined to a small number of officers selected from the three armed services. Attendance at either the Armed Forces Staff College or a service staff college was considered mandatory for advancement beyond the rank of major or lieutenant commander.

In addition to its staff college, each of the armed forces operated its own service academy. The army’s Chulachomkhlao Rhlao Royal Military Academy was the largest and oldest of these. In 1986 it was moved from its central Bangkok location to a new campus in Nakhon Nayok Province. The Royal Thai Naval College was at Ban Pak Nam and the Royal Thai Air Force Academy at Don Muang Air Base. The five-year academies served as the principal sources of junior officers for all three services.

Each service also had intermediate military schools similar to those operated by the United States military establishment. In addition, a sizable number of officers from all branches received training in American institutions as well as in advanced technical training schools in the United States. The armed forces also maintained a variety of schools to provide technical training for NCOs. These were oriented primarily toward career enlisted men and offered courses that varied in length, depending on the particular vocational specialty involved.

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