Technically named the "Royal Thai Armed Forces", the military of Thailand is a regional power. It's supplied by a mix of nations, with weapons from China and Russia, as well as England and America, and everyone in between. They have upwards of 200,000 troops, split between the Royal Thai Army, Navy (which has it's own Marine Corps and one of the oldest in Asia), and Air Force.
The Royal Thai Army is the senior service and gets the bulk of the funding, the Air Force is ranked second and the Navy third. The Army has a laid-back, hands-off attitude to life that effectively hides the fact that it is pretty good at its job. The Army commanders see politics and military operations as being intimately combined and always consider political imperatives and consequences before taking military decisions. This leads to conceptual conflicts with allies who believe in apolitical military forces. On multinational exercises, the Thai Army cheats. All the time. This has led to resigned complaints from other participants about such things as officers buying fuel from commercial gas stations, having take-out food delivered to their troops and gaining masses of intelligence data from surrounding civilians who feel honor-bound to help "their" army win.
The Air Force is also well-regarded and its pilots are seen as some of the most skilled in the region. Their problem is that equipment maintenance doesn't match up to that level. A distressingly high proportion of their aircraft are laid up due to servicing issues.
Despite its lowly position on the totem pole of power and influence, the Royal Thai Navy operates one of only 21 aircraft carriers in the world, the HTMS Chakri Naruebet. It carried 6 second-hand Spanish "Matador" Harrier Jets up until 2006, after attempts to get more modern Harrier IIs from Great Britain fell through. Despite being the smallest modern aircraft carrier, it has served well in disaster relief efforts after several tsunamis over the years.
They had a border conflict with Cambodia from 2008-2011; only ending when the United Nations awarded to the disputed territory to Cambodia.
The Royal Thai Armed Forces regularly train with the U.S. Marines and Navy in the annual Cobra Gold exercises held in the Kingdom.
Organization of the Armed ForcesThe Other Wiki tells us the RTAF is responsible to the King of Thailand in his duty as Chief of the Armed Forces through the office of the Ministry of Defense. The Chief of Defense Forces, the overall commander of the forces, is appointed and relived of command by the Minister of Defense upon the advice of the Prime Minister.
Thai military in media:
- Suspiciously not a playable faction in the Lumphini Garden map of Battlefield 4. We get the U.S. Marines vs the People's Liberation Army instead.
- Thai Border Guards appear in Missing in Action franchise.
- Seen as the bad guys in the elevator segment of Haunted Universities (a.k.a. Bangkok Haunted 3). The episode was a nod to the Thammasat University Massacre in October 6, 1976 where 46 pro-democracy student protesters were killed by the Royal Thai Armed Forces, the Royal Thai Police, and right-wing anti-communist vigilantes.
- In the 2004 Thai film Born to Fight, Thai special forces show up near the end to recapture the terrorist leader and evacuate the civilians from the booby-trapped village.