Readers may recall that just over a week ago we posted on a movement of troops that caused considerable social media attention. Part of the reason for this was that the troops were associated with Prince Vajiralongkorn, and he was rumored to be supporting the government.
Now the Bangkok Post has reported what can only be an “official statement” on what happened. We say this because while it appears as a “report,” it is actually in the form of an announcement under the name of Wassana Nanuam.
The report is interesting for it could be used by the “succession crowd” or by those who are not so struck by this claim that this is the explanatory key.
It does state:
There have, however, been recent attempts to link the creation of the Royal Security Command to the political conflict. Fake documents were released saying the command had assigned 3,000 of its officers to take care of the prime minister, seemingly in an attempt to draw the monarchy into the ongoing political unrest.
Permanent secretary for defence Gen Niphat Thonglek confirmed no such order had been issued, as did ACM Sathitpong Sukwimol, secretary to the Crown Prince.
”The command has nothing to do with politics. Its main duty is to provide security to members of the royal family,” Gen Nipat said.
The account reports of the transfer of a “unit of elite soldiers, the Royal Security Command,” to “the authority of the Defence Ministry in its administrative streamlining of protective duties for the royal family.”
The first thing to notice is that this is fixing some kind of previous problem or issue. What that is is never made clear, but if we were interested in the succession issue, we’d likely see this as a positioning maneuver.
The reporting lines are explained, and support this line of thinking:
Reporting directly to His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, the command will be assigned to provide security for the royal family, as well as take charge of administrative affairs for the palace and His Royal Highness.
This is not a small unit; it “comprises six battalions of soldiers, [who] will be placed on the Defence Ministry’s payroll, permanent secretary for defence Niphat Thonglek said, rather than the army’s as in the past.” We are not military wonks, but we guess a battalion is several hundred troops.
There is a bunch of stuff about this group recruiting and being an elite unit with better pay and so on. And also some stuff about how the recruits get tough and specialist training and are on probation for some time.
This unit is know as “The Royal Guard 904,” and “well recognised for its strict discipline and professionalism. The officers are thoroughly screened to ensure competency.” Loyalty to the prince too, no doubt.
Interestingly a point is made that this Royal Guard includes an “all-female team…”. Make of that what you will.
General Prayuth Chan-ocha has reportedly said that he is “confident these officers are fit for the duty of providing security for the royal family.” That could be read as a linking of the Army to the prince as succession looms.
There’s something going on.