Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Commander in Chief Pol Saroeun has given the country’s navy the go-ahead to equip its marine bases off the southern coast with advanced weaponry, though details remained sparse yesterday.
Saroeun was quoted by local media on Tuesday saying the navy was using outdated weapons and needed to strengthen its capacity to protect and strengthen the country’s defences. “Some of them are old weapons that were left from the war, so in order to strengthen the nation, there is a need to change some weapons and also equip with additional [weapons],” he was quoted as saying.
Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat said nobody should doubt the intentions behind the directive, adding that the navy was only being asked to upgrade its assets on military installations on islands dotting Cambodia’s coast.
“We are prepared to equip [the navy] with new weapons in order to ensure security, safety and protect territorial integrity strongly,” he said. “We cannot say our country is safe forever, and we need to be cautious, just like the United States.”
Socheat would not divulge which military bases would need updating or what kind of weaponry would be installed.
Jon Grevatt, Asia-Pacific industry reporter for defence analyst IHS Jane’s, said it was not unusual for countries to upgrade their military assets routinely, more so in a region where tensions have escalated with the South China Sea dispute.
“Even countries like Thailand, who are not claimants, are feeling the need to upgrade their assets,” he said.