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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - RCAF outlines reform plan

RCAF outlines reform plan

T HE General Staff of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces has drafted a reform plan for the new Cambodian armed forces. The Post acquired a copy of the four and a half page document.

The reform plan describes the current situation in the RCAF, indicates in twelve single sentences, principles for the reform, and includes fifteen short paragraphs of implementing instructions.

The document reveals that the General Staff intends to use psychological tactics, and "fostering national development by ensuring national security and social order" to deal with the KR.

But offensive military elements are also emphasized in the plan. It says: "The soldiers in the military region [are] to be organized to defeat the KR in the [sic] 2 or 3 coming years." Special military teams who the plan says are "already organized in the preparation to attack the vital positions of the KR" must be well trained, the plan says.

The statement of reforms comes months after lethal aid requests were turned down by the governments of France, Malaysia, Australia and the United States, and after pressure from these countries for reform of the RCAF. The United States has made reform of the Cambodian military a precondition for lethal aid.

Diplomatic sources also point to the defeats at Anlong Veng and Pailin which exposed the weaknesses of the Cambodian armed forces as a motivation behind the plan.

Strengths and weaknesses of the armed forces are pointed out in the plan. It notes "steady improvement in the RCAF" among the "three factions who honored the Peace agreement." The plan says that integration has occurred from "the higher to the lower level" in the RCAF. "We have organized the appropriate structure with a high sense [of] responsibility to resolve [the nation's] difficult affairs," the plan says.

It notes that "some of the units have too many soldiers and they have nothing to do. Some of the soldiers are too old and not in good health. There are some units which have too many female soldiers."

The report explains "why the enemy is able to penetrate into and capture various communes and districts": "the soldiers at the sub-operational region have not intensified their role and duties as yet."

"Regarding military discipline ... some officers are not committed to .. the law. But only simple soldiers have committed the big mistakes .. by creating illegal check points and committing illegal activities on the locals."

"Some of the commanders also extort [the soldier's] monthly salary, other supplies of the soldiers and also oppress the soldiers sometimes."

Some of the concrete measures described include an emphasis on "character training", so that soldiers will "have an honorable character, good military discipline, offensive action, public order" along with nationalism and non-partisanship. The reform plan notes a need for a military tradition.

The plan states that "we have to pay more attention in organizing and strengthening the soldiers to be more aggressive in the offensive."

The document also noted the need to "solve the problems of the living conditions of the front-line soldiers."

The document itself is very general when it talks about "reorganizing rank structure." In contrast to public statements about reducing the number of soldiers and generals, the plan gives no specific numbers. Only officers "who are not in good health" and "who are too old should be retired." Such reductions will occur "after the rank structure is reorganized." Specifics about training requirements are also not mentioned in the reform plan.

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