Think tank to help reform conscription

Think tank to help reform conscription

The army yesterday officially opened its Security Strategy Development and Research Institute, which is touted to be an independent think tank serving the military and the government in the area of national security.

Established on Oct 1, the new institute started its work by looking into ways to reform the army's conscription system, which critics say needs greater accountability, said a source.

Gen Narongphan Jitkaewtae, chief of the army, presided over a ceremony yesterday to mark the official opening of the institute, the source said.

Gen Apirat Kongsompong, a former army chief, had approved transforming the army's strategic committee into the institute on Oct 1, formally culminating in its establishment.

The main responsibility of the institute is to conduct research, compile relevant academic literature, information and knowledge from local and international sources to supply the army and the government with security information, the source said.

Gen Thanet Kalaphruek, the army's chief adviser, was said to have been appointed the first director of the new institute.

The institute consists of four main sections, namely on security strategies, army capacity building, military knowledge and skills development, and support, said the source.

In implementing its work, the security strategies section, for instance, is following the government's national strategy on security affairs.

Meanwhile, the army capacity building and the skills development sections follow working guidelines under the so-called "2037 Vision," the source added.

The vision has to do with the army's ambition to become a regional defence leader and gain public trust through the modernisation of the force.

The opening of the new institute marks the army's first step toward setting up a think tank to serve the army and the government at the same time. Also, the institute will be an agent coordinating academic work between the army and institutional partners. A number of soldiers and veterans will contribute their knowledge to the new institute.

In its first work, the institute is working with universities on research into a proposal to reform the conscription system, said the source, noting this research will address problems surrounding conscription. The prime minister recently knocked back voluntary recruitment put up by a rival party.

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