In 2011 Australia continued its long and enduring cooperation with the Cambodian Ministry of National Defense and the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) in a range of areas. These included the development of an effective Cambodian counter-terrorism capability, developing the maritime security framework, assisting the defence strategic review and working with Cambodia on defence policy issues, and ongoing support for professional development and English language training.
A major highlight of 2011 was the visit by two Royal Australian Navy Ships: HMAS Parramatta in May and HMAS Warramunga in November. Apart from the official meetings and receptions on board, crew members provided engineering support to the Royal Cambodian Navy Base in Ream and provided medical and light engineering support to the Ream primary school and an orphanage in Preah Sihanouk Province.
The Australian Defence Cooperation Program (DCP) continued its strong focus on developing the English language capability of the RCAF by sponsoring both English language teachers and students to attend courses in Australia, and by providing a better learning environment in Cambodia.
In 2011 Australia continued with a special program employing native English-speaking instructors and discussion facilitators at the RCAF College of Social Sciences and Languages (CSSL) in Russei Keo, allowing the wider student body to improve its English skills.
The Australian DCP increased its support for attendance at the Australian Centre for English (ACE) in 2011, sponsoring 16 full-time students and 26 part-time students in various levels in Phnom Penh, five students in Siem Reap and six students in Battambang. In 2011 Australia sent more than 40 Royal Cambodian Armed Forces students to Australia for further English and general military training and seminars.
There are currently seven RCAF officers on long-term training in Australia at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), Command and Staff College, Australian Defence College and undertaking foundation year and post graduate studies for a 12 month period. Australia is also very proud that Major Ra Phirun, an ADFA and Royal Military College Duntroon 2009 graduate, was deployed in a command role with the RCAF peacekeeping contingent to Lebanon in 2011.
In 2011 Australia has continued to be actively involved with the development of Cambodia’s maritime security capability, participating in various workshops and discussions led by the National Maritime Security Committee Secretariat in cooperation with other security partners, the United States and Japan. In May 2011 Australia hosted a Maritime Security Legal Framework Working Group in Siem Reap attended by Ambassador Richards, and in March 2011 key maritime security officials visited Australia’s Border Protection Command.
Australia has continued bilateral training activities with Cambodia’s National Counter Terrorism Special Forces with the deployment of two Australian Training Assistance Teams to Cambodia in 2011, focusing on developing the national counter terrorism capability.
Australia has continued to provide material support to the RCAF through the provision and maintenance of command and control systems, such as access to the internet and other learning resources, telephone systems, and radio equipment. Australia remains committed to working closely with Cambodia in strengthening this defence relationship and looks forward to the challenges that 2012 will bring.