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RCAF freelancers called back

Day jobs as guards for the wealthy ruled out under military reforms

PRIME MINISTER Hun Sen has ordered the new Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) commander-in-chief to recall soldiers moonlighting as guards for wealthy officials, saying they should remain with their military units.

"I ordered General Pol Saroeun to gather them and take them from the places where they are working," Hun Sen said Wednesday, referring to the government's much-touted policy of military reform, which began with a shake-up of the senior military leadership last month.

"If they are deployed here and there, the military units will lack soldiers. The real soldiers have been stationed at homes belonging to this man or that man here and there. It is impossible from now on. We have to take action to stop it," he said during a conference at the InterContinental Hotel.  

"I do not mean that they should be sent to brigades, but to their platoons and companies," he added, referring to demoting soldiers.  

Hun Sen said also that Pol Saroeun had informed him that more than 10,000 soldiers - totalling nearly an entire RCAF division - were deployed in non-military positions, and requested that they all be sent back to their units.

Commander-in-Chief  Pol Saroeun confirmed Thursday that more than 10,000 soldiers had been listed as absent from the Ministry of Defence, Command Headquarters and Infantry Headquarters.

When asked if they will be sent back to bases, Pol Saroeun said he was in the process of expediting the return of the men to their units.

"I know how to organise this. I can't give any details because this is military work," he added.

Deputy Commander-in-Chief Hing Bun Heang would not comment on the redeployment Thursday, saying he was stationed along the Thai border.

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