Reservists flock to first day of army recruitment drive
A large number of reservists turned up to apply for officer training on Monday under an extended temporary contract on the first day of the army's recruitment push, which will run until Jan 19.
The recruitment drive is part of the army's policy to reduce the number of permanent officers in the military, as it seeks to cut costs. Under the arrangement, recruits will serve a four-year period, which is extendable to a maximum of eight years.
The drive was launched yesterday, as the Future Forward Party tries to drum up support for a push to end mandatory military conscription in Thailand.
One of the first applicants to arrive at the Territorial Defence Command in Bangkok's Phra Nakhon district, 22-year-old Natthaphon Sidaeng said he is determined to become a military officer because he has always wanted to become a soldier.
"My father used to work in the army," he said.
"It requires great discipline and physical strength."
"The profession also offers a great deal of work security," added Mr Natthaphon, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in public administration from Surat Thani Rajabhat University and only just finished his basic military training earlier in the year.
Mr Natthaphon, who wants to work with the 45 Military Circle in his home province, said that he had prepared well -- both in physical strength training and studying about the military's regulations and other related knowledge -- for the examination that will be next held to select a total of 243 qualified applicants.
"I don't have a problem with the extendable four-year contract, as once I'm in, I'll have a better chance of securing a permanent position within the military after serving for eight years," he said.
A 29-year old reservist who goes by the name "To" said that although his current job at the Public Health Ministry is a highly secure one, he still wants to join the military because it has always been his dream.
"My mother doesn't want me to become a soldier because she thinks it is a tough job," he said.
"But this really is something I'd like to do."
Phanthat Komlothok, another applicant, said he quit his job at a private company to join the army because it is a respectable and secure job.
"With my background in computer programming, I believe I can bring more to the table for the army if they let me join as an officer," he said.
Col Sarit Tocharun, director of the Reserve Force Controlling Division that is handling the applications, said more applicants are expected to turn up until the end of the application period.
"However, bear in mind that only about 20% out of the total of 243 temporary military officers who will be accepted -- or about 94 of them -- will have the opportunity to be hired as permanent staff after they complete the maximum eight years of service," he reminded.