The defense, which is based on general military duty with
an initial service of 24 months, comprises (2010) about
305,000 men. The reserves amount to 200,000 people. The army
(190,000 men) is organized into ten divisions with 330
The Navy (44,000 men, including 23,000 Navy infantrymen)
has an aircraft carrier with 6 Harrier aircraft, 19 frigates
/ corvettes, 44 smaller fighters, 8 land-based aircraft and
a naval aircraft with approximately 21 fighter aircraft and
8 attack helicopters. The Air Force (46,000 men) has about
165 fighter aircraft, i.a. 50 F-16. Semi-military security
forces amount to 114,000 men.
In 2002, the defense was deployed in the border regions
against Burma/Myanmar and in 2008-09 against Cambodia.
Low-intensity efforts were made in 2008-09 against the
Malaysian Muslim militia in southern Thailand, while the aim
was to maintain the confidence of the population through
so-called hearts and minds strategy. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that THA stands for Thailand.
The equipment is relatively modern and mainly of American
origin. Older Chinese stock is about to be phased out. A new
ten-year two-stage defense plan was adopted in 2008,
including upgrading a cavalry division and purchasing six
JAS 39 Gripen fighter aircraft.
Defense costs decreased in 1985-2008 from 4.0% to 1.6% of
GDP. Thailand participates in UN peacekeeping operations
with observers in Sudan (UNAMID, UNMIS).
Thailand's foreign policy
Thailand is a member of the UN, the World Trade
Organization, ASEAN and APEC, among others.
Relationship with Cambodia
Cambodia's application to give the Preah Vihear Temple a
place on UNESCO's list of world cultural and natural
heritage led to an ancient border dispute between Cambodia
and Thailand fiercely reopened in 2008. Both countries
claimed that the 11th century temple - originally Hindu, but
later converted to Buddhism - are in their territory.
However, the disputed area of 4.6 square kilometers was
allocated to Cambodia by an order of the International Court
of Justice in The Hague in 1962.
The announcement by UNESCO about the agreement with
Cambodia nevertheless aroused strong nationalist sentiment
in Thailand. The ruling party also received support from the
opposition here. As Cambodia celebrated its new World
Heritage attraction, thousands of Thai nationalists flocked
to Preah Vihear to claim the temple back. Both countries'
governments sent soldiers to the temple district, and
Cambodia called on the UN Security Council to intervene.
Armed clashes with fallen on both sides in the "temple war"
both in 2008 and 2009. The Constitutional Court in Thailand
declared a contentious agreement with Cambodia, signed by
then Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama, as unconstitutional.
In the agreement, Thailand provided formal support for
Cambodia's UNESCO application, which led to Pattama's
departure. The two countries agreed to jointly draw up new
and accurate borders during 2009, but early in the year new
armed clashes occurred here.