Red Shirt/Yellow Shirt - Protest and Insurrection in Thailand 2005-2014

Published on
February 9, 2024
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Authors: Dean Wilson;
Illustrators: Pablo Patricio Albornoz, David Bocquelet, Luca Canossa, Tom Cooper, Micky Hewitt, and Anderson Subtil
Other Publication Information
Pages : 82 | Images : 77 b/w photos, 1 b/w illustration, 3 colour photos, 16 colour profiles & figures, 3 maps, 7 tables, Date of Publication : 8th August 2023 | Size : 297mm x 210mm
Product / Stock #
Company: Helion & Company - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Casemate Publishers - Website: Visit Site
Book Cover

Helion is a UK-based company that produces books on many aspects of Military History from the Late Medieval period through to the present day. Helion was established in 1996, and since then they have published over 1,200 books, with 100 or more new titles coming out every year, for readers around the world.

Dean Wilson was born in Gibraltar to English parents with his father serving in the Royal Navy. He was raised in Italy while his father was attached to NATO and attended local schools, later attending American High School before their return to the UK. Dean worked as an electrician assistant on the local Army base before joining the Ministry of Defense, first as a civilian guard and then in the MoD Police where he was a dry weapons trainer, control room operator, and a counter-terrorism officer. Dean earned a BSc in Religious Studies and is working towards an MA in military history, specializing in the Cold War period. After sustaining an injury on duty, Dean was medically discharged from the MoD and began working as a ward clerk for the NHS. Dean has published wargaming rules on the Pacific Theatre before focusing on the Cold War and modern warfare. His core rule set COLD WAR3! Was used by the Joint Strike Command as a tabletop exercise simulating a dirty bomb scenario in London. Dean is married to a wonderful Thai lady who encouraged his writing since his retirement from the NHS.

Helion’s latest book in the Asia @ War series is a square back soft cover that includes 82 gloss paper pages. The cover color photograph features members of the Royal Thai Army (RTA) pushing back Red Shirt protestors in May 2010. Luca Canossa’s color side profile of a Bell UH-1H Huey in South East Asia camouflage. Part of the Royal Thai Army’s No. 203 Squadron, sixteen Hueys were based at Don Muang International Airport. The Royal Thai Army officially retired its fleet of UH-1H helicopters on September 29, 2020, after serving for 52 years. The Royal Thai Air Force still maintains some UH-1H choppers. The rear cover features a David Bocquelet color side profile of a US Vietnam War surplus M48A3 Patton tank. They have been upgraded over the years and now have many components of the M60A1 RISE Hull PIP upgrade. I counted 78 black-and-white photographs and four-color photographs. There are also seven armored fighting vehicle color side profile illustrations from David Bocquelet, six color illustrations of police/soldiers by Anderson Subtil, and three aircraft color side profiles by Luca Canossa. You will also find two black-and-white maps by Tom Cooper and one color map by Micky Hewitt.

Dean Wilson kicks this tome off with a military history and the Royal Thai Army, of Thailand from 1874 onwards. The modern era (1932 forward) has seen Thailand as basically a constitutional monarchy, somewhat like England. The monarch is the head of state and engages in ceremonial activities. The Prime Minister is the head of the government and works with a bicameral Parliament. The Judiciary has somehow been able to maintain its independence from both the legislative, executive, and monarchy, despite several coup d’etats. Interestingly, the government has been quite unstable due to a severely divided population.The Yellow Shirts support the Thai monarchy and are generally urban. The term yellow comes from the favorite color of the Thai monarch. The Red Shirts are generally rural and were formed following a 2006 coup d’etat that brought down Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. A simple perspective could be that the Yellow Shirts are more conservative, and the Red Shirts are more liberal, but I really hesitate to try to compare the two sides to US political parties.

Chapters Two and Three present the organizational structure of the Royal Thai Army (RTA) and the Royal Thai Police (RTP). Two of the armored fighting vehicles of the Royal Thai Army are shown on Page 09. A Cadillac M41A3 Walker Bulldog light tank is shown at the top of the page, belonging to the 3rd Cavalry Division, 6th Regiment. The M41A3 was a light tank with primarily a reconnaissance role. At one point, the RTA had 200 Walker Bulldogs in service, but since 2019 it has been withdrawn from service. The bottom of the page shows an Alvis FV101 Scorpion reconnaissance vehicle, but armed with a 76mm gun, is more of a light tank. The Scorpion was introduced into British service in 1973 and replaced in 1994. Thailand is currently operating 100 FV101 Scorpions. The Royal Thai Police are shown on Page 27. The top photograph shows Police Aerial Reinforcement Unit (PARU) officers with a Bell UH-1D helicopter of the 203rd Squadron. The PARU organization is a special forces unit of the Border Patrol Police (BPP). The photograph at the bottom of the page depicts two elite units: Naresuan 261 and Arintaraj 26. Naresuan 261 is part of the PARU organization while Arintaraj 26 is a counterterrorism and hostage rescue team under the RTP.

The unrest from 2005 through 2014 is the focus of the rest of this book. The two sides, Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts took to the streets and occupied government and media buildings. The Royal Thai Army and the Royal Thai Police took turns trying to control the violent crowds that shut down Bangkok for months. A before and after photograph is shown on Page 49 that depicts an example of the violence and destruction of Bangkok’s Central World shopping center. A Red Shirt protest is shown on Page 57 as they approach a Royal Thai Army roadblock. The violence finally came to an end when General Prayuth Chan O-Cha tried to force both sides to negotiate a truce. Unfortunately, neither side could bring themselves to compromise, so Prayuth Chan O-Cha declared martial law with himself becoming the Prime Minister and leading the government. Prayuth Chan O-Cha was later elected Prime Minister in 2019.

The sections include:

  • List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
  • Introduction: The Royal Thai Army and the Military History of Thailand
    • 1893: The First Franco-Thai War
    • 1917-1918: The First World War
    • 1940-1941: The Second Franco-Thai War
    • 1941-1945: The Second World War
    • 1950-1953: The Korean War
    • 1963-1975/: The Vietnam War (Third Indochina War)
    • 1976-1980: The Communist Insurgency
    • 1979-1988: Vietnamese-Thai War
    • 1987-1988: Thai-Laotian War
    • 1999-2002: East Timor
    • 2002-Present: Myanmar Border Wars
    • 2003-2004: Iraq, Second Gulf War (Operation Enduring Freedom)
    • 2004-Present: Southern Insurgency (Pattani War)
  • Chapter 1: The Royal Thai Army in the Twenty-First Century
    • The Organization of the Royal Thai Army [Page 09]
    • Special Warfare Command
    • Special Warfare Command [Table 1]
    • The Royal Thai Army Air Division
    • Royal Thai Army Air Division [Table 2]
    • Army Medical Department
  • Chapter 2: The Royal Thai Police
    • Organization of the Royal Thai Police
    • Royal Thai Police [Table 3]
    • RTP Central Investigation Bureau
    • RTP Crime Suppression Division
    • RTP Special Branch Bureau (SBB)
    • The SBB Organization
    • Patrol and Special Operations Division Arintaraj 26 SWAT
    • Training and Organization or Arintaraj 26
    • Major Operations Undertaken by Arintaraj 26 [Table]
    • The Special Service Division
    • Metropolitan Police Division (Bangkok Metropolitan Area)
    • Royal Thai Police Provincial Police Divisions
    • Royal Thai Police Aviation Division
    • Border Patrol Police (BPP)
    • Organization of the BPP
    • Police Aerial Reinforcement Unit (PARU)
    • Naresuan 261 Group [Page 27]
    • PARU Organization
    • PARU Training and Recruitment
    • Volunteer Defense Corps (Village Scouts)
    • Tahan Phran
    • Organization of the Tahan Phran
    • Tahan Phran Organization [Table 5]
    • Task Force 80
    • Salween Special Task Force
    • Mekong Special Task Force
    • Tahan Phran Marines Regiment
    • The Southern Insurgency
    • Organization of the Insurgents
  • Chapter 3: The Political Crises of 2005-2010
    • The Yellow Shirt (PAD) / Red Shirt (UDD) Protests
    • 2006 Yellow Shirt Protests
    • The 2006 Coup D’etat
    • 2008-2010 Crisis
    • Color Profiles [Page 36i]
    • Background to the Political Crisis 2008-2010
    • 2008 Yellow Shirt Protests
    • September 2008 Violence and Seizure of Government House
    • October 2008 Siege at Parliament House
    • November 2008 Closure of Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang Airports
    • 2009 UDDT and PAD Protests
    • Pattaya Protests
    • Protests in Bangkok
    • The Ministry of Interior Riot
  • Chapter 4: The Political Crises of 2010-2014 and the 2014 Coup
    • 2010 Red Shirt Protest [Page 49]
    • 2011 to 2013 Premiership of Yingluck Shinawatra
    • 2013 Protests and Shut Down Bangkok
    • Shut Down Bangkok Protest 2014 [Page 57]
    • Declaration of Martial Law
    • 2014 Coup D’etat
    • Structure of the Council for Peace and Order [Table 6]
  • Chapter 5: Who’s Who: Biographies of Personalities of Note
    • Prayuth Chan O-Cha
    • Yingluck Shinawatra
    • Chalerm Yubamrung
    • Somchai Wongsawat
    • Abhisit Vejjajiva
    • Suthep Thaugsuban
    • Samak Sundaravej
    • Sanhi Limthangkul
    • Prime Ministers of Thailand 2001 to Present [Table 7]
  • Appendix
    • Organization and Disposition of the RTA
  • Bibliography
  • Notes

I had always considered a tropical paradise from the Rodgers and Hammerstein movie, The King and I. I’ve also had many friends travel to Thailand for long, enjoyable vacations, and came back glowing over their adventures. I was surprised to find out politically, that Thailand was such a mess. I read this book over two nights and then spent time doing additional study trying to fit the Red Shirts / Yellow Shirts division into something I could sink my teeth into. I even talked to the owner of a Thai restaurant (probably a Yellow Shirt).The two sides are still very complex. It even seemed like Thailand gained some political stability after the last coup d’etat, even though it was under the authoritarian rule of General Prayuth Chan O-Cha. Alas, we will have to wait and see as the Red Shirts won the 2023 election.

I really enjoyed this book as Dean Wilson contributes an engaging style despite the wealth of details. There are 8 pages of color illustrations that support the book well along with the 82 photographs. If you own one of the previous releases in the Asia @ War series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Helion & Company, Casemate Publishing, and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!


Add new comment

All comments are moderated to prevent spam

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.