The already-inflated upper ranks of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces now have an additional 256 generals, according to documents obtained this week.
A royal decree, published in the December royal gazette, elevated 249 soldiers from the army and seven members of the navy to brigadier generals.
The advancements are part of a new policy by the government to provide automatic promotions to soldiers who have served in the armed forces since 1979, the year the Vietnam military backed an invasion which toppled the Khmer Rouge and brought to power the core members of Cambodia’s current regime.
Prime Minister Hun Sen’s eldest son Hun Manet, a lieutenant general and head of the Defence Ministry’s anti-terrorism unit, has in recent weeks travelled through the provinces to announce the policy to veterans.
Reached yesterday, spokesman for the Ministry of Defence Chhum Socheat maintained the bulk of rank increases were based on merit.
He said the government would soon start promoting soldiers who had joined the military in the years after 1979. “We can survive today because of their sacrifices. The promotion committee has evaluated this and there is no corruption.”
With perhaps more than 2,000 generals, critics have long slammed RCAF for its rank inflation, linking it to a culture of patronage, loyalty and corruption.
Socheat yesterday could not specify the exact number of officers with stars. “I cannot remember the number . . . but this is to pay for the merit, and there is no buying of hearts.”