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Royal Thai Marine Corps

The Thai people have been called the "amphibious people" since the Ayutthaya Period because they go everywhere by boat and they live near water. The Royal Thai Marine Corps is organized into two regiments [or divisions] composed of one artillery battalion, six infantry battalions, and one amphibious assault battalion; a light tank battalion was also proposed.

The Royal Thai Marine Corps has an establishment strength of 25,000. The current complement of only 20,000 has as its principal concern to better develop its amphibious assault capability. The Marine Corps is headquartered at Camp Samaesan, within the Sattahip Naval Base. Its other major base is at Narathiwat and a third facility is situated at Trat. The Marine Police acts as a coast guard in inshore waters. It has 62 armed patrol craft and another 63 boats equipped only with small arms.

A combined amphibious landing force exercise (CALFEX) is part of Cobra Gold. The CALFEX is the highlight of 14 days of training between the U.S. and Royal Thai Navies and Marine Corps. Cobra Gold is a joint/combined exercise and is the latest in a continuing series of U.S.-Thai military exercises designed to ensure regional peace and strengthen the ability of the Royal Thai armed forces to respond to regional contingencies.

One of the duties of the armed forces, apart from defense of territory is to safeguard the monarchy and the Royal Family. The Royal Thai Navy was granted permission to establish a special division in the Naval Academy to serve as the Royal Guards under the name of Cadet Division, Royal Guards, Naval Academy , Royal Thai Navy in 1978. In 1990, the name was changed to Naval Cadet Regiment, Royal Guards, Naval Academy , Royal Thai Navy. The King also granted permission for 3rd Infantry Regiment, and 9th Infantry Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, Royal Thai Marine Corps to become part of the Royal Guards on 10 September 1980.

ASCOD light tank

The Royal Thai Marine Corps selected the ASCOD light tank for its requirements in October 1999 and placed an order with Austria's Steyr-Daimler-Puch for 15 vehicles, one command post vehicle and one repair and recovery vehicle. Reportedly, other contractors to have been competing for this requirement include the US companies Textron Marine & Land Systems with the latest Stingray II and United Defense LP with the M8 Armored Gun System, both armed with a 105 mm rifled gun. The Royal Thai Army already operated 106 of the earlier Stingray I light tank.

The ASCOD light tank is essentially a modified ASCOD tracked infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) chassis fitted with a South African LIW LT 105 three-person turret armed with a 105 mm rifled gun firing standard NATO ammunition and a 7.62 mm co-axial machine gun. It includes a computerized fire-control system and day/night sights for the commander and gunner. The ASCOD IFV is already in production by Santa Barbara in Spain under the local name of Pizarro and has recently been ordered by Austria under the local name of Ulan with production undertaken by Steyr-Daimler-Puch.

Royal Thai Marine Corps History

Marines emerged for the first time in the history of the Royal Thai Navy on 1 July 1919 in the reign of King Rama VI when the Navy Ministry issued a inisterial regulation dividing naval officers into three divisions; namely, navigator division, engineer division and marine division. After the political reform in 1932, most marines were relocated to Sattahip aval Station where the development of their capabilities was started all over again by the Royal Thai Navy.

In 1933 the government granted approval to the Royal Thai Navy to develop its marine and naval capabilities under the proposed framework of Admiral Sindhu Kamalanavin, which called for the expansion of marine forces into regimental combat teams comprising infantry, artillery, engineering and communication officers, along with the improvement of its naval forces. Admiral Sindhu assigned Rear Admiral Thaharn Khumhirun to implement the concept.

In 1936, Rear Admiral Thaharn started his assignment by sending marines to study with the armed I forces personnel for the first time at the Army Command and Staff College, Infantry School, Engineering School, Cavalry School and Artillery School. He also sent the Naval Rating and Marine Naval Rating surplus candidates to study in the Corporal School. To prepare a new location for the new regimental combat team for the marines, the Royal Thai Navy chose Tung Kai Tia, Sattahip District to construct a new home for the Royal Thai Marine Corps.

After the political crisis on 29 June 1951 in which marine personnel were implicated, the government ordered the disbandment of the Royal Thai Marine Corps, creating chaos within the units. To solve this problem, the Royal Thai Navy amalgamated the ,marines as part of general naval installations and units.

In 1954 an incident along the borders of Chanthaburi and Trat provinces occured that was regarded as a threat to the sovereignty of the country. The Royal Thai Navy set up the Special Defence Force at Chanthaburi province by deploying marines from Sattahip Naval Station. This incident was a blessing in disguise for the marines whose merits were fully tested in combat and acknowledged for the necessity to expand them into a new unit.

Later the government granted the establishment of the Royal Thai Marine Corps on 30 July 1955, the date the marines take as the Founding Day of the Royal Thai Marine Corps.

The establishment of the new Royal Thai Marine Corps received arms and weapon support from the V.S. government through its military aids program and also training and technical assistance from the V.S. Marine Corps. The structure of the Royal Thai Marine Corps was thus based along the line of the V.S. Marine Corps and developed along similar amphibious operation capabilities and fighting doctrines. The first combined exercise between the V.S. Marine Corps and the Royal Thai Marine Corps at Chao Samran Beach on 10 October in 1956 was considered as a ground breaker for Royal Thai Marine Corps amphibious operation training by the V.S. Marine Corps.




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