Thanom Kittikachorn (täˈnŏm kĭtˌəkəchôrnˈ) [key], 1911–2004, Thai political and military leader. He entered the army in 1929, rising to command of a division by 1950. After supporting a coup in 1957 by Sarit Thanarat, he served (1957–63) as defense minister and was (1957–58) also briefly prime minister. On Sarit's death in 1963, Thanom succeeded him as prime minister. A staunch anti-Communist, he supported U.S. policy in Southeast Asia. In 1971, Thanom increased his powers through a military takeover of the government. Protests against the abolition of constitutional government and Thanom's personal aggrandizement finally forced his resignation and exile in 1973. He returned to Thailand in 1976.