Saturday, August 15, 2020

New Army chief must stop killings within the ranks

Sep 03. 2018
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One of the top priorities of the incoming Army chief, General Apirat Kongsompong, must surly be to implement measures to stop the killing of soldiers by their own officers, NCOs and fellow soldiers.

Here are some suggestions that will help move the Royal Thai Army into the 21st Century.

A total ban on all corporal punishment.

A ban on other forms of physical punishment, such as gruelling exercises in the hot sun or forced route marches with backpacks filled with wet sand. If this is not feasible, then such punishments must be overseen by a medical officer with the authority to step in at any time.

No punishment may be authorised or administered by anyone below the rank of sergeant. This bars fellow soldiers from implementing or administering punishments.

All of the above are to be written as orders to be read by the commanding officer at parades of their units. 

In addition, all commanding officers are to be held personally responsible for any future deaths in their units and face obligatory court martial for failure to maintain good order and military discipline within their units.

In each formation a senior officer should be appointed as soldiers’ advocate or military ombudsman with overriding powers to investigate allegations of brutality, bullying and harassment, and the authority to order corrective action, including the laying of charges against offenders. These appointments should be made so that soldiers feel confident they can report breeches without reprisals.

If any of the above require a rewrite of current Thai military codes of conduct or military law manuals, then get to it, General Apirat.  Because if you do not, the next murder in the Thai Army will be blood on your hands.

David Brown


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