|Royal Thai Armed Forces
direct command of the
Ministry of Defence,
the Kingdom of Thailand has about 314,000
forces (fig.), consisting
of both regular cadres and conscripts.
subject to two years of compulsory military service
and conscription is determined by lot.
At the age of twenty every boy is summoned to come and draw a lot of
which the colour determines the outcome: if the colour is red, one
is drafted; if black, one is exempt (fig.).
may join up at the age of 18.
The military includes three main branches: the Royal Thai Army
with about 190,000 staff
(fig.), the Royal Thai Navy with around 79,000 personnel
(including naval aviation personnel and members of the marine
corps), and the Royal Thai Air Force, estimated at 45,000. Reserve forces total
about 200,000 recruits. In addition, the Royal Thai Army has a
Medical Department (fig.), which in Thai is known as
krom phaet thahaan bok and which in
2010 celebrated its 110th anniversary (fig.). The King is the rightful head of the Royal
Forces and he and his family are
(fig.), i.e. the King's Own Guard (fig.),
whose former barracks are located within the compound of the
(fig.) in Bangkok (fig.) and of which since 1978 has been headed by the Crown Prince, as well as by a special royal protective unit of the Royal Thai Police. Military
cadets (fig.) are trained in
Military Academy (fig.), which was founded on 5 August 1887 by King
(fig.) and initially housed in the back of
Palace (fig.) in
where today the
Royal Thai Survey Department
(fig.) is located.
The Headquarters of the Royal Thai Armed Forces are in
Laksi District (map -
fig.), whilst the Headquarters of the Royal Thai Army is located in
Nakhon (fig.), Royal Thai Navy HQ in the old Wichai Prasit Fort (fig.) in the former
Thonburi Palace (fig.), and the Royal Thai Air Force Headquarters on the eastern side of
Don Meuang Airport (fig.). National Armed
Forces Day (fig.) is
celebrated annually on 18 January, to commemorate the victory of King
Naresuan the Great (fig.), who defeated the Burmese crown prince in a duel
fought on the back of a
war elephant (fig.) on 18 January 1593, in the Battle of Nong Sarai. In Thai,
the Royal Thai Armed Forces are referred to as
kong thap and
saenyahkon, which can be translated as
‘army’, ‘troops’ or ‘military might’. See also
History of Thai Army Uniforms,
ranks of the Thai military.