ISOC’s political role

18 06 2019

The Internal Security Operations Command is the military’s most important political agency. For years it has engaged in political destabilization, surveillance, repression and murder for various military regimes and for the military itself.

PPT mentioned ISOC’s likely political role in the post-junta regime being put together by the junta. And, we have previously warned about this political agency. For a couple of important reads on ISOC, see here and here.

A Bangkok Post op-ed by Alan Dawson in 2017 referred to ISOC, in working for the junta, as being “extremely non-traditional, always unpredictable and occasionally highly strung…”.

[What did happen to Alan Dawson at the Post?]

It is now reported that ISOC is being rearranged, again. This reorganization has to do with the matters mentioned in yesterday’s post but also the fact that Gen Prawit Wongsuwan will likely not be its political jockey going forward.

The ISOC restructure is “increasing the number of agencies under its supervision…” from 12 to 18, although that counting may be underestimating ISOC’s current scope. Very oddly, the report states that the restructure is somehow “in line with Prime Minister [Gen] Prayut[h] Chan-o-cha’s intention to remove its military-dominated image.”

Yes, give this “political arm of the Thai military” more power while making its bosses, all “retired” generals, less of a military image. That, it seems, involves making ISOC more “modern” and by having it “made up of civil servants, police and soldiers, not purely military…”.

The junta appears to have appreciated the interventions by ISOC during the “election” campaign and now wants that influence and threat posture to continue post-“new” government.

The report states that this idea of making ISOC look less like a “tool of the army” seems like buffalo manure, not least when it reveals that there are “up to 770 military personnel work in the agency, leaving only 200 positions to police and civil servants.”

We find the report really very hard to believe, when Wikipedia reports that “ISOC’s FY2017 budget is 10,410.4 million baht,” and that “ISOC has about 5,000-6,000 staff nationwide, excluding those working in the south, and there are 500,000-600,000 internal security volunteers, as well as tens of thousands of people in its information network.” It can be also noted that ISOC already has police assigned to it.

The real story is that ISOC is being mobilized to provide the intelligence, repressive and political support Gen Prayuth, his proxy party and its regime require in order to stay in power.


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29 07 2019
Updated: Constructing the monarch | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Given ISOC’s political role, taking over from the junta, and its history of political destabilization, surveillance, repression and murder for various military regimes and for the military itself, the overt linking to the throne is cause for considerable concern. […]