A Change of Guard

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Friday, 17 October 2008

S2: Defending The Nation – Part I: Threat Assessment

Read part two here.

Dear Fellow Khmers,

As the prospect of full scale armed conflict with Thailand is looming, a number of concerned citizens have openly asked questions on our defense strategy and recommendations. Obviously, the best strategy is to live in peace with our neighbors, as long as they respect our territorial integrity. Unfortunately, this is not happening. Our border has been repeatedly encroached. Our bilateral negotiations have yielded no results and we are left with no other option but to defend our motherland vigorously by any mean including the military option.

Although we hope to be able to resolve the border issues peacefully at the international court, the situation on the ground clearly shows that large scale armed hostility is increasingly inevitable. Facing such threat, National Defense Association (NDA) has conducted some assessment on the Thai military structure and capability, and would like to communication this vital information to our fellow citizens, soldiers, military planners and government so that we are all aware of what we are up against, and that we can decide what specific counter measures we must take during the military confrontations.

As summarized in the attachment, the Royal Thai Armed Forces (RTA) has a combined strength of roughly 301,000 regular plus 200,000 reserve, and an estimated annual budget (2009) of $4.08 billion dollar (US). The RTA consists of three service branches - Royal Thai Army with 190,000 soldiers; the Royal Thai Navy which has 68,000 men (sailors, marines and naval aviators); and the Royal Thai Air Force which consists of 43,000 airmen. Furthermore, there are around11,000 paramilitary known as rangers operating along border areas.

Thai military arsenal includes 315 aircrafts, 185 of which are fighters such as L-39, Alpha Jet, AU32, F5 and F16 fitted with advanced medium range air-to-air missiles; over 180 helicopters; 360 main battle tanks; 460 light tanks; 1150 armored personnel carriers; 650 field artilleries [11.5 to 39.6Km range]; 240 anti aircraft artilleries; 1 aircraft carrier, 11 frigates; 7 corvettes; 9 amphibious landing ships; 110 patrol boats;

Thai defense is organized into four areas - Western and central provinces protected by 1st Army; North Eastern area under the command of the 2nd Army; North and Northwestern area under the command of the 3rd Army; and finally the Southern area protected by the 4th Army. Thai military current involvements include border dispute and drug smuggling surveillance along Burma border, border dispute with Cambodia, and controlling the Muslim revolts in the Southern provinces along Malaysia border.

Numerically, Thai military strength and budget are impressive. However according to several military experts, Thai soldiers lack combat experiences and are ill-prepared for battlefields. The bulk of their defense budget goes to the staff salary and only minimum amount is spent on training. Thai generals spend more times to exercise their influences in domestic politics than preparing the troop for combat readiness. This is largely due to the fact that Thai defense strategy from the cold war era relies on US to provide protection against external armed conflict and to resort to political solution to avert potential war.

NDA assessment is that Thai government is unlikely to commit huge materials and ground troops for a prolonged conflict with Cambodia. Thailand has nothing to gain from such conflict. However, she is testing our solidarity and determination to fight. If we don't response swiftly and decisively on the border incursions, Thais will continue to repeatedly violate our sovereignty.

In part II, NDA will provide some high level recommendations on the tactical manoeuvering in the battlefields.


Davan Long,


PS: I regret if some of you receive multiple copies of this email. Please help to distribute this information within your network or local communities.
RTA ver 1.jpg
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Anonymous said...

Right on Davan. At some point you have to strike back swiftly and intelligently.
I understand the enormous arsenal of Thai war machines.But nothing can stop the will of the people united for a common cause.

Anonymous said...

Davan, a great assessment. With a neighbor so far ahead of us in term of military and budget, Cambodia cannot be complacent and do nothing about modernizing our army. Increasing budget and military hardware procurements are some of the measures we can take to be able to stand up to Thai military threats.

True, make peace with our neighbors is the best option, but only if our neighbors allow us to make peace with them. With our territories being encroached and chipped away everyday, how can we stand and do nothing? Peace is only possible if neighbors want peace and are mutually respecting each other. In the case of Cambodian borders with Thailand and Vietnam, our neighbors never respected us.