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Army on recruitment drive

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Cambodian soldiers take part in the final day of a four-day military exercise held in Kampong Speu province last month.

MILITARY officials across the Kingdom are engaged in a push to add 5,000 recruits to the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

Ek Sam On, deputy comm-ander of RCAF Region 5, based in Battambang province, said yesterday his outfit had recruited roughly 400 soldiers over the past month and hoped to sign up an additional 400.

“We have accepted 400 volunteers recruited from the vill-ages,” Ek Sam On said. “They have not been forced – they have the spirit of nationalism.”

In 2006, the National Assembly passed a controversial law  that allows for the conscription of Cambodian men between the ages of 18 and 30.

Military officials said the current batch of recruits had come voluntarily, however.

Ek Sam On said the effort had been sparked by a directive from the Ministry of Defence calling for 5,000 new soldiers to be recruited to replace troops who have retired.

Sao Socheat, deputy comm-ander of RCAF Region 4, said his region had orders to recruit 1,100 new soldiers: 400 from Siem Reap province, 400 from Kampong Thom and 300 from Oddar Meanchey.

“Many people have volunteered to serve in our forces, and we now have almost as many as we need,” he said.

“They have no experience on the battlefield, so they will be trained for three to six months.”

In Kampot province yesterday, local officials held a ceremony for 251 new recruits who have volunteered to join the military.

Provincial governor Khoy Khun Huo said more than 300 men in the province had app-lied to join up.

“We still have many who have volunteered to serve the nat-ion,” Khoy Khun Huo said.

“They want to serve the nat-ion, and they have a feeling of patriotism after Thai soldiers tried to invade Cambodia.”

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