My article for the Thai Enquirer:

There is one ritual that many Thai men will undergo if they are privileged enough at the end of their secondary education.

Ror Dor, as it is known colloquially, Territorial Defense students officially, and ROTC to the rest of the world. The course is intended to fill out the ranks of Thailand’s reserve force and prepare a force that is ready to be called upon in times of crisis. 

Or so it is intended. It is an open secret that most who sign up for the course do not have the slightest desire to see action. They do so because successfully completing three years of training waives them from military conscription.

The military probably believes that sending generation after generation of Thai men to these camps is beneficial for building discipline and indoctrinating a lasting admiration for the army as an institution. Classes involve both practical lessons in areas such as marching and shooting, and lectures on various topics related to the military and patriotism. 

What the generals may fail to grasp, however, is they are also year after year exposing the inefficiencies and outdated mindset of the military. 

Click here to read the full piece.

Published by Ken Lohatepanont

Writer from Bangkok, Thailand; currently a student at the University of California, Berkeley. Enthusiastic about democratic development, international relations and all things politics. I believe in writing to facilitate positive political and social change.

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