Officers on the fast track to the upper ranks of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces are about to hit a speed bump.
The Ministry of Defence has decided to temporarily suspend RCAF promotions because of what they say is a gap between some officers’ ranks and their levels of knowledge and experience.
Defence Minister Tea Banh, speaking at yesterday’s 58th RCAF anniversary, said the number of officers being promoted to the rank of general had been drastically increasing, comparing it to the flurry of promot-ions that followed the integration of combatant forces in 1993.
“Because the ranks are higher than the actual knowledge and experience of the individual military officials, we have to suspend promotions temporarily and wait until their knowledge and experience catch up with their rank,” Tea Banh said.
He said the experience gap had sometimes made it difficult for the RCAF to work with the militaries of other countries, particularly in cases where officers were teamed with counterparts of equal rank but widely different levels of experience.
“Working with the foreign armed forces, sometimes [our officers] are not credited as having equal rank with them,” Tea Banh said, adding that they sometimes struggled to win respect.
Tea Banh declined to give recent statistics regarding promotions to the rank of general, but said there had been inflation in ranks.
In April alone, 47 brigadier (or one-star) generals were minted, including Hun Manet, the son of Prime Minister Hun Sen. That same month, seven others were promoted to lieutenant-general (three-star) and 11 were upped to major-general (two-star).
Yim Sovann, spokesman of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said many generals had been promoted via nepotism and bribery.
“I respect individual generals who have experience on the battlefield and protect the interests of the nat-ion, but not the generals promoted through nepotism, partisanship and bribery,” he said.
During his address at the RCAF anniversary ceremony, Tea Banh also addressed the unsettled troop issues around the disputed Preah Vihear temple area, saying that the Cambodia-Thai General Border Committee meeting to discuss the withdrawal of troops from the demilitarised zone had been postponed because of the disastrous floods plaguing both Cambodia and Thailand.
“So far, there is no exact date set for the GBC meeting,” he said.
The withdrawal by both sides was ordered by the International Court of Justice in a July ruling.