Let’s Dissolve the Air Force


It is fairly well-established that one of the major factors inhibiting the social and economic development of Thailand is the huge proportion of the budget devoted to the military. The most recent example of this is the attempt to buy yet more advanced jet fighter planes by the air force, for no obvious reason other than status and access to opaquely awarded budgets.

When Thailand enjoys democracy (e.g. 1992-2006), the proportion of the budget spent in this way is gradually reduced. When the military rules the country (e.g. 2006 onwards), then the budgets leap up. Irrespective of the ongoing financial crisis, which should surely be the cause of reduction of needless expenditure, the military seems to be entering a new golden age of money sloshing about (not to mention the deeply sinister plan of a certain old person to create a new division to suppress free speech and freedom of association in Isaan).

There is, of course, a need for a military force – any country sharing a border with Burma is going to require infantry, helicopters and the like to deal with fighting and with refugees. Also, discoveries of oil and gas in the waters around the Kingdom, as well as the issue of refugees escaping prosecution (such as the Rohingyas) will also need some naval patrol boats. A rational review of the military would presumably demonstrate the need for a land force and for a naval force. In the modern world, armies and navies have their own aerial assets – helicopters, planes, even airships. The need for these vehicles is fairly clear.

So, let us dissolve the air force. What good is it? What does it offer that the army and navy do not already offer? What enemies can be envisaged that needs a flight of highly expensive (perhaps, according to some rumours, overly expensive) jet fighters to counter them? In any large-scale combat, after all, the Americans would take over and the Thai air force would be grounded to keep it out of the way.

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JW

JW has been one of the first contributors to this blog before he gave up on it all in April 2010, during a time when Thai society got more and more polarized about political matters because of red-shirt protesters.

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