Narongpan tipped to replace Apirat as army chief

Narongpan tipped to replace Apirat as army chief

The military reshuffle has been announced, spelling out what is believed to be a line of succession for the top job in the army.

Narongpan: Part of Wong Thewan clique

The police also released an annual shake-up list at the same time, which is unprecedented. It marks a break from tradition when military reshuffles normally precede that of police.

The military reshuffle affecting 871 positions was published in the Royal Gazette and will take effect on Oct 1.

The reshuffle was highlighted by a change at the top for the air force. ACM Maanat Wongwat, chief-of-staff at the Royal Thai Air Force, has been promoted air force chief replacing incumbent ACM Chaiyapruk Didyasarin. It is the only commander-in-chief replacement in this round.

All eyes, however, were on who would likely succeed army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong.

The 1st Army Region commander, Narongpan Jitkaewthae, has been appointed assistant army chief, fuelling speculation he is in line to take over from Gen Apirat who is due to retire next year.

Lt Gen Narongpan belongs in the Wong Thewan military clique and is member of Class 22 of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School.

Also, Gen Chalermpol Srisawat, an army specialist, has been named the new chief-of-staff at the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters. He is thought to be in a favourable position to become chief of defence forces in the future. It was reported earlier that Gen Apirat had recommended Gen Chalermpol's promotion.

The latest reshuffle also has Gen Kukiat Srinaka securing an appointment as new defence permanent secretary, replacing incumbent Gen Nat Intaracharoen.

Lt Gen Thammanoon Withi, chief of the 1st Army Corps, has been promoted to 1st Army Region commander with three years left until his mandatory retirement. The 1st Army Region is one of the most powerful units of the army.

Also, Maj Gen Songwit Noonpakdi, chief of the 1st Army Division, the Royal Guard, becomes 1st Army Region deputy commander. Maj Gen Songwit, a son of the late former army chief Issarapong Noonpakdi, is tipped to be a 1st Army Region commander in the making, according to the source.

Meanwhile, three new deputy national police chiefs have been appointed. They are Pol Gen Suchart Theerasawat, Pol Lt Gen Manoo Mekmok and Pol Lt Gen Suwat Jaengyodsuk.

The police reshuffle involves 317 senior officers who also include six assistant national police chief appointees; Wiroon Iampaijit, Permpoon Chidchob, Adit Ngamjitsuksri, Jaruwat Waisaya, Pongwut Pongsri and Surachai Kuandechakup. All of them hold the rank of police lieutenant general.

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