Royal Thai Army eyes ending conscription next year
The increasing number of voluntary soldiers this year has given the Royal Thai Army hope it could end its conscription programme next year, and use the incentive of promotions to draw more Thais to join the Army.
Army assistant spokeswoman Lt-Colonel Patcharin Chan-arsa said the Royal Thai Army is giving priority to recruiting regular troops via voluntary applications instead of conscription. To facilitate the process, the Army has, for the last three years, opened a website for young Thai men to apply to become soldiers.
She said those who apply voluntarily to become Army privates will be given extra score for taking exams to become non-commissioned officers or to study in the Army Non-Commissioned Officer School after they have completed their service.
Currently, those who apply to become regular troops must be in service for one year, compared to two years for conscripts.
Patcharin said the voluntary recruitment programme has been a success so far, considering the increased number of voluntary recruits.
This year, the Royal Thai Army recruited 58,330 regular troops — 6,101 of them had applied in advance via the website. She said 21,046 more Thais applied voluntarily on the conscription dates, leaving only 30,646 troops to be conscripted. She said the number of conscripts had reduced from the previous year by 18,749.
The spokeswoman said the Army has started recruiting regular troops for the 2023 fiscal year. Online applications could be filed on the Army’s website until January 29, she said.
She said the number of regular troops to be on duty for the 2023 fiscal year would be reduced by 10 per cent, so the Army would reduce the number of new privates by 12,000. This would be a good opportunity for the Army to try to recruit all soldiers through voluntary applications, she added.
Patcharin said the Army this year recruited non-commissioned officers through its one-stop service exam method, which also used IT technologies to screen applicants. All types of four non-commissioned officers were recruited through one exam this year, she said. The exam system would expand to cover commissioned officer recruitment next year, she added.
She said the Royal Thai Army promoted some 4,000 regular troops to become non-commissioned officers each year.
She added that the Army chief was also giving priority to welfare and good care of regular troops in service, ensuring they would get nutritious food and remain in good health as well as provide a chance to further their studies or get promotions.
She added that this year Army Commander-in-Chief General Narongpan Jitkaewthae had visited Army conscripts and volunteer soldiers at all camps nationwide.