Sudden change to nomination for new air force chief

Sudden change to nomination for new air force chief

Three new candidates for the post of Royal Thai Air Force commander-in-chief (from left) ACM Tharin Punnasri, ACM Saritpong Wattanawarangkul and ACM Sutthipun Taithong.
Three new candidates for the post of Royal Thai Air Force commander-in-chief (from left) ACM Tharin Punnasri, ACM Saritpong Wattanawarangkul and ACM Sutthipun Taithong.

A change has been made to the nomination of a replacement for air force chief ACM Maanat Wongwat, who retires next month, with his previously reported successor, ACM Airbull Suttiwan, now being sidelined, according to a highly-placed source in the air force.

ACM Airbull, an air force specialist, was earlier reported to have been nominated by ACM Maanat as his successor and the nomination approved by Prime Mnister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is also defence minister.

The source said the change came about during the weekend, when other candidates for the job moved in protest.

According to the source, a former air force chief called Gen Prayut on the telephone, voicing disapproval of the nomination of ACM Airbull and saying there were other air force officers suitable for the position.

Moreover, he said, the nomination of ACM Airbull from "a special signal" was damaging.

After receiving the call, Gen Prayut again consulted ACM Maanat on the matter. He asked ACM Maanat to propose a new candidate.

The source said the officers likely to be considered were ACM Saritpong Wattanawarangkul, chief of general staff for the air force chief, ACM Suthipan Taithong, the air force chief-of-staff, and ACM Tharin Punnasri, an assistant air force chief.

The Defence Council was scheduled to meet on Monday, with Gen Prayut, the defence minister, sitting as chairman, to finalise the military reshuffle lists.

The meeting was to be also attended by the deputy defenceminister, the defence permanent secretary, the supreme commander of the armed forces and commanders-in-chief of the army, navy and air force. 

The air force was expected to later submit its altered reshuffle list to Gen Prayut for administrative procedures, the source said. The completed military reshuffle lists would be forwarded to His Majesty the King later this week.

Of the lists which have been finalised, Gen Chalermpol Srisawat, the armed forces chief of staff, would move to supreme commander; Gen Narongphan Jitkaewtae, an assistant army chief, would become army chief; and ACM Chatchai Srivorakhan, an assistant navy chief, would move up to navy chief.


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