Brother of Thai PM in line to be next army chief

Brother of Thai PM in line to be next army chief

Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan is preparing for discussions next month on the annual military reshuffle, as several high-profile generals will reach mandatory retirement age in September, a source said yesterday.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's younger brother General Preecha, now assistant Army chief, looks set to succeed General Udomdej Sitabutr as Army chief, the source said.

Udomdej, who is also deputy defence minister, will retire along with deputy Army chief General Chatchai Sarikulya, who is also commerce minister, and Army Chief-of-Staff General Chatchalerm Chalermsukh.

A source said a rival for the Army's top post was Prawit's favourite protege General Teerachai Nakwanich, also an assistant Army chief.

"Both Preecha and Teerachai are strong candidates. It is believed that one of them will finally become the new Army chief while the other will be appointed the new permanent secretary for defence," the source said.

General Sirichai Distakul, the incumbent permanent secretary for defence, will retire later this year.

September 30 will see 446 Armed Forces officers of general or equivalent rank leaving the service, including Navy chief Admiral Kraisorn Chansuvanich, deputy Navy chief Admiral Pojana Puakpong, deputy Air Force chief ACM Anon Jarayapant, Armed Forces Supreme Commander General Worapong Sanganetra, and deputy supreme commanders General Paiboon Koomchaya, General Wuttinun Leelayudth and ACM Phontep Modsuwan.

General HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is among the outgoing generals.

A source said Navy chief Kraisorn might name his assistant Admiral Narongpol na Bangchang as his successor.

"The discussion will focus on the top post at each armed forces branch first. The next important posts will be discussed later," he said.

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