Royal Thai Army
Emblem of the Royal Thai Army
Founded8 May 1874 (149 years)
Country Thailand
RoleLand warfare
Part ofRoyal Thai Armed Forces
HQRoyal Thai Army Headquarters, Ratchadamnoen Avenue, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok
Nickname(s)"ทบ." "Thor Bor" Abbreviation of Army
Motto(s)เพื่อชาติ ศาสน์ กษัตริย์ และประชาชน ("For the Nation, Religion, Monarchy, and People")
ColoursRed and yellow
Marchมาร์ชกองทัพบก (Army March)
Anniversaries18 January
(Royal Thai Armed Forces Day)
Commander-in-chief General Jaroenchai Hintao
Royal Thai Army Flag
Unit colour
Aircraft symbol

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.


Main article: Military history of Thailand


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]


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.[3][4][5]

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[6] to concentrate on political reform which he said would take at least a year, following which he promised national elections would be held.[7]

The existence of an information warfare unit participating in a cyber campaign against government critics was leaked to the public in late February 2020.[8] In 2020 Twitter shut down a network of accounts which were engaged in information warfare. According to Twitter “Our investigation uncovered a network of accounts partaking in information operations that we can reliably link to the Royal Thai Army (RTA).”[9] The operation had targeted the political opposition within Thailand. The Thai Army denied that they had been involved in the disinformation operation.[10]

Army components and control

Main article: List of Commanders of the Royal Thai Army

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[11]: 2  for a force of 471,990 troops.[12] 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."[13]

Command and control

The commanders-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army (ผู้บัญชาการทหารบกไทย) is considered the most powerful position in the Royal Thai Armed Forces.[14] With effect from 1 October 2023, the commander will be General Jaroenchai Hintao.


The army is organized nationally into four army areas:

King's Guard at Grand Palace
Royal Thai Army is located in Bangkok
1st Army Area
1st Army Area
1st Division, King's Guard
1st Division, King's Guard
2nd Cavalry Division
2nd Cavalry Division
Locations of the army's major units in Bangkok
Royal Thai Army is located in Thailand
1st Army Area, 1st Division
1st Army Area,
1st Division
2nd Army Area, 3rd Infantry Division
2nd Army Area, 3rd Infantry Division
3rd Army Area, 4th Infantry Division
3rd Army Area,
4th Infantry Division
4th Army Area
4th Army Area
11th Infantry Division
11th Infantry Division
6th Infantry Division
6th Infantry Division
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.[18] 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.[19]

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."[20] 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.[21]

Tactical units

The army is organised into the following formations:

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 and 2005 through co-operation with the Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC).

Army Medical Department

Phramongkutklao Hospital

Main articles: Phramongkutklao Hospital and Phramongkutklao College of Medicine

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,[22] with 110 years of service having been honoured by issue of a series of commemorative stamps.[23] 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 Division

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:

UH-60L Black Hawk during air show at Don Mueang Air Force Base
AH-1F Cobra attack helicopter during air show at Don Mueang Air Force Base

Military districts

The army is divided into districts, whereby the first digit of the district indicates the army (first, second, third or fourth) responsible for its supervision. 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


The RTA budget for FY2021 is 107,662 million baht, down from 112,815M baht in FY2020.[24]

List of military engagements

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.
Thai soldiers wash in a small pool during a break in operations, Nhon Trac, 19 October 1967
Military Police stop traffic to allow the 2+12-ton trucks carrying members of the Black Panther Division to leave Newport Docks, en route to Bearcat, 22 July 1968


Main article: List of equipment of the Royal Thai Army

Rank structure

Main article: Military ranks of the Thai armed forces

Rank group General / flag officers Senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
 Royal Thai Army[25]
Field Marshal General Lieutenant General Major General Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Sub Lieutenant
Chom phon
Phon ek
Phon tho
Phon tri
Phan ek
Phan tho
Phan tri
Roi ek
Roi tho
Roi tri
Nak-rian nairoi
Rank group Senior NCOs Junior NCOs Enlisted
 Royal Thai Army[25]
Master Sergeant 1st Class Master Sergeant 2nd Class Master Sergeant 3rd Class Sergeant Corporal Private 1st Class No insignia
Cha sip ek
Cha sip tho
Cha sip tri
Sip ek
Sip tho
Sip tri
Phon thahan

Businesses and infrastructure

The army owns more than 30 golf courses nationwide. The army also owns boxing stadium, 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).[26] 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.[27][28][29] In a related move, army commander General 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.[30] 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".[31] The Thai Defence Ministry position is that there is no law prohibiting retired officers from occupying military housing.[32]

In January 2021, the RTA signed a memorandum of understanding with the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) to study the feasibility of constructing solar farms on 4.5 million rai of army land to generate 30,000 megawatts of electricity. Following up, on 22 February 2021 a meeting was called by the President of Royal Thai Army Radio and Television Channel 5 with energy firms interested in winning a piece of what is projected to be a 600 billion baht project. The Energy Ministry was not represented at the meeting. Critics have questioned why the army is involved in energy procurement, in contravention of existing regulations, and why Thailand needs more electricity when it already has 59% reserve capacity and more capacity under construction.[33]


Radio and television channel list

Free-to-air TV

Satellite TV


See also


  1. ^ International Institute for Strategic Studies (15 February 2023). The Military Balance 2023. London: Routledge. p. 294. ISBN 9781032508955.
  2. ^ "The Royal Thai Army | 42nd Military Circle". 1 October 2010. Archived from the original on 18 August 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  3. ^ Achakulwisut, Apinya (23 October 2018). "Army at the centre of our vicious circle" (Opinion). Bangkok Post. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  4. ^ "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.
  5. ^ Nanuam, Wassana (18 October 2019). "Army chief refuses to rule out fresh coup". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ BBC News (26 February 2020). "อภิปรายไม่ไว้วางใจรัฐบาล : ส.ส. จากพรรคที่เพิ่งถูกยุบกล่าวหากองทัพใช้เงินภาษีทำสงครามจิตวิทยากับผู้เห็นต่างทางสื่อสังคมออนไลน์". BBC News.
  9. ^ Strangio, Sebastian. "Twitter Suspends Sock Puppet Accounts Linked to Thai Military". The Diplomat. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  10. ^ Tanakasempipat, Patpicha (9 October 2020). "Thai army denies Twitter disinformation campaign after takedowns". Reuters. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "Active and reserve U.S. military force personnel numbers by service branch and reserve component in 2018". Statistica. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  13. ^ Faulder, Dominic (31 December 2019). "Thailand: Land of a thousand generals". Nikkei Asian Review. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  14. ^ Thailand: Land of a thousand generals
  15. ^ Nanuam, Wassana (3 September 2018). "Army reshuffle sees loyalists appointed". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  16. ^ 06BANGKOK3883, 'Southern Violence: The army takes the lead,' 30 June 2006, para 8.
  17. ^ "3rd Special Forces Regiment (official Thai website)". Royal Thai Army 3rd Special Forces Regiment. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  18. ^ Robert Karniol, 'Thailand boosts military in troubled south,' Jane's Defence Weekly, 23 February 2005, Vol. 42, No. 8, p. 12
  19. ^ Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, New Thai army regiment to battle southern militants [sic – this is a division], BBC Monitoring International Reports, 16 February 2005.
  20. ^ International Crisis Group, 'Update Briefing: Stalemate in Southern Thailand,' Asia Briefing No. 113, Bangkok/Brussels, 3 November 2010, 3
  21. ^ Interview: Sukumpol Suwanatat, Air Chief Marshal and Minister of Defence, JDW 15 August 2012, Vol. 49, Issue 33, 34.
  22. ^ "111 Years". Archived from the original on 9 August 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  23. ^ "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.
  24. ^ "Thailand's Budget in Brief Fiscal Year 2021". Budget Bureau. 2 October 2020. p. 85. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  25. ^ a b "เครื่องหมายยศทหาร" [Military Rank Insignia]. (in Thai). Thai Naval Education Department. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  26. ^ Yonpiam, Chairith (15 February 2020). "Apirat's vow to reform military misses the mark" (Opinion). Bangkok Post. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  27. ^ Nanuam, Wassana (18 February 2020). "Army gives up cash cows". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  28. ^ Nanuam, Wassana (13 February 2020). "Army to cede schemes to professionals". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  29. ^ Pongsudhirak, Thitinan (14 February 2020). "Underpinnings of a Thai mass shooting" (Opinion). Bangkok Post. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  30. ^ Nanuam, Wassana (19 February 2020). "Retired generals, colonels still occupy about 100 army homes". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  31. ^ Rojanaphruk, Pravit (14 February 2020). "Retired Soldiers Ordered to Vacate Army Residences—Except Prayut". Khaosod English. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  32. ^ "Overstayers 'not breaking law': Govt". Bangkok Post. 21 February 2020. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  33. ^ Sangarasri Greacen, Chuenchom (4 March 2021). "Firms line up for slice of solar pie" (Opinion). Bangkok Post. Retrieved 10 March 2021.