MILITARY officials kicked off a 12-day peacekeeping training session in Phnom Penh yesterday, part of a large-scale military exercise involving more than 1,000 military personnel from 26 countries.
The Angkor Sentinel exercise, jointly run by the US departments of defence and state, began with the launch of the Command Post Exercise, which will train Royal Cambodian Armed Forces soldiers and other participants to take part in UN peacekeeping
In his address at the opening of the exercise, Moeng Samphan, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Defence, thanked the US for providing financial support for the training.
“As is widely known, there is no single country in the world with full capacity to respond to or solve unpredictable crises such as armed conflicts, illegal weapons, drug smuggling, human trafficking and other disasters alone. With this in mind, the Royal Government of Cambodia has accepted the request from the US side for hosting,” he said.
Addressing the ceremony, US Ambassador Carol Rodley said Washington remained committed to enhancing its military relationship with Cambodia. She added that Angkor Sentinel provided a “unique opportunity” to deepen the two countries’ friendship.
Rodley said the exercise would allow Cambodia’s peacekeepers to expand beyond their current demining and protection duties and evolve into a full-service unit that can be deployed anywhere in the world.
Angkor Sentinel continues on Saturday with a two-week field-training exercise at RCAF’s ACO Tank Command Headquarters in Kampong Speu province.
The exercise came under attack on Friday from the New York-based Human Rights Watch , which released a statement that military units – including the ACO Tank Unit – involved in the exercises have been implicated in systematic human rights abuses.