Apirat becomes new army chief

Apirat becomes new army chief

Gen Apirat Kongsompong (top left) will become the new army chief starting Oct 1 while Adm Luechai Ruddit (top right) and ACM Chaiyapruk Ditsayasarin (bottom left) will head the navy and the air force respectively. Gen Nat Intaracharoen (centre) will be permanent secretary of the Defence Ministry and Gen Pornpipat Benyasri (bottom right) will lead the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters.
Gen Apirat Kongsompong (top left) will become the new army chief starting Oct 1 while Adm Luechai Ruddit (top right) and ACM Chaiyapruk Ditsayasarin (bottom left) will head the navy and the air force respectively. Gen Nat Intaracharoen (centre) will be permanent secretary of the Defence Ministry and Gen Pornpipat Benyasri (bottom right) will lead the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters.

New commanders have been appointed for the three armed forces and to lead the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters in the military reshuffle approved by His Majesty the King on Saturday.

They include Gen Apirat Kongsompong, whose father led the coup that ousted the Chatchai Choonhavan government in 1991, as the new army chief, an appointment that was widely expected.

The reshuffle, which involved 935 senior officers with ranks equivalent to colonel and upward, was published in the Royal Gazette on Saturday and takes effect on Oct 1.  

At the Defence Ministry, Gen Nat Intaracharoen, deputy permanent secretary, was promoted to permanent secretary.

Gen Pornpipat Benyasri, chief of staff at the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters, becomes its commander.

Gen Apirat will retain his positions as secretary to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and commander of its peace-keeping forces.

Gen Apirat was known to have received full support from Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha for a large part of his career, fuelling speculation that the army under his leadership will be a strong backer of Gen Prayut in whatever he wishes to pursue in the future. That could include a foray into politics, possibly even as prime minister in an elected government.

At the Royal Thai Navy, deputy commander Adm Luechai Ruddit will become its commander. At the Royal Thai Air Force, assistant commander ACM Chaiyapruk Ditsayasarin was promoted to commander.

After Oct 1, the holders of these top positions will be appointed by Gen Prayut to replace their retiring predecessors at the NCPO, supposedly the last group of members before the general election expected to take place between Feb 24 and May 5, according to the prime minister.

Gen Apirat, Gen Pornpipat and Adm Luechai will all reach the mandatory retirement age of 60 in 2020. ACM Chaiyapruk is scheduled to retire in 2019 and Gen Nat in 2021.


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