ROYAL Cambodian Armed Forces soldiers participated yesterday in military exercises close to the Cambodian-Thai border in Battambang and Pailin provinces as part of routine training that included live heavy ammunition, senior military officials said.
Chhum Socheat, spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, said the exercises topped off a three-month training programme for around 1,000 RCAF troops, and that it was the second-largest military exercise held this year after a similar exercises in Kampong Chhnang in March.
Chhum Socheat said that the exercises were part of a regular training regimen designed to “strengthen the defence sector and modernise military
“We are not showing military muscle with this operation,” he said.
The soldiers hit their targets “100 percent” of the time, he said, using anti-aircraft weapons and mortars.
Chea Vannath, a Phnom Penh-based political analyst, said the Ministry of Defence had neglected the military following the 1997 factional fighting, but that it has started to pay more attention to the army following the border tensions that have developed with Thailand since 2008.
Chea Vannath said the government needs to strengthen and modernise its defenses “to protect the sovereign territory” of Cambodia, but “not to spark war with a neighbouring country”.
The military received a shipment of 100 tanks and armoured personnel carriers from Ukraine in Sihanoukville on Tuesday.