The Defence Council has approved a reform plan for the armed forces which includes a proposal to cut the number of generals by half by 2027, Col Jittanat Punnotok, a deputy Defence Ministry spokesman, said on Wednesday.
A military source said there are currently around 1,200 generals. According to Col Jittanat, the armed forces had already cut the number of military personnel by more than 8,000 between 2017 and 2021, which helped them save around 1.5 billion baht. By 2027, the total number of generals should be about 600, and the estimated savings will be 2.9 billion baht, the source said.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in his capacity as defence minister, has insisted the reforms were planned long ago and had nothing to do with any intention by any new government to seek armed forces reform, the source said.
The reforms also included a decision to stop reinforcing the 7th Infantry Division in the North, meaning it will no longer be allowed to increase its personnel, said the source.
The 7th Infantry Division's main responsibilities include supporting the 4th Infantry Division in ensuring security along the Thai-Myanmar border, the source said.
Also, troop numbers in the 3rd Cavalry Division in Khon Kaen will be frozen under the plan. It's all part of the armed forces' bid to enhance efficiency through restructuring, resizing and modernising, the source said.
Other changes approved by the council include a plan to slash the number of paramilitary personnel in the southern border areas by 1,656. As for recruitment, the number of recruits needed is around 90,000 per year, down from 100,000 before, he said, adding that each year around 35,000 enlist voluntarily.
That suggests the armed forces will be able to switch smoothly from forced conscription to voluntary enlistment, the source added.