New chief to 'strengthen' army
Incoming commander-in-chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong says he will "strengthen the army" and take the lead in tackling major problems threatening national security.
Gen Apirat, who takes up his new role on Monday, was speaking at a ceremony where he accepted the appointment at the Royal Thai Army headquarters on Friday.
He expressed his gratitude to His Majesty the King for appointing him and promised to do his best in carrying out his duty for the nation, the King and the people.
Gen Apirat said the army had wide-ranging roles involving security, national development and relieving people's hardships.
He praised his retiring predecessor, Chalermchai Sitthisad, as being a professional soldier.
Gen Chalermchai had promoted the concept of "Smart Man, Smart Army" to promote the physical and mental strength, and knowledge and morality, of soldiers, Gen Apirat said.
That led to "the empowerment of the army, which has taken a leading role in solving major problems affecting national security and order, and is always ready to be there for the people", Gen Apirat said.
Gen Apirat, a member of Class 20 of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School, has two years to serve before his mandatory retirement in 2020.
The son of the late strongman Gen Sunthorn Kongsompong, who led the National Peace Keeping Council that seized power from the Chatichai Choonhavan government in 1991, Gen Apirat was one of the key movers in the May 22, 2014 coup when he commanded the 1st Division, King's Guard, a major unit in the putsch.
He was assistant army chief before his latest promotion.