T HE number of generals in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) has been
slashed from 1,920 to 199, according to the Ministry of Defense.
who made the grade and remain as generals - 20 three-star, 42 two-star and 137
one-star generals - had their ranks officially confirmed in a Phnom Penh
ceremony on Mar 17 (photo above).
The Ministry of Defense ceremony, held
with great fanfare and followed by a party, was attended by Deputy Prime
Ministers Kong Som Ol, Ing Keat and Sar Kheng and foreign diplomats and military
advisers. The demotions are the first concrete step in the RCAF rank reform
program, part of its reorganization called for by foreign military aid
Of the 1721 generals who lost their ranks, 314 have been
appointed colonels and the remainder to lesser ranks, according to Minister of
Defense Tea Banh.
"The ministry is very proud of the step-by-step
achievement of military ranking reform," he said, adding that he believed "all
troops are satisfied with their new ranks."
General Ke Kim Yan, Chief of
General Staff, said the reasons for the demotions had been thoroughly explained
to RCAF staff in seminars during the past six months. "They all agreed to accept
it but normally nothing can please everyone. We cannot please 100 per cent of
them but we must do what is useful for the military.
"If everyone has the
same three stars, who can order the military?"
Many of the demoted
generals had had their ranks unofficially and illegally conferred on them in the
first place, he said.
Military officials, however, refused to describe
the ranks cuts as demotions, instead insisting that it be called "military rank
They said that most of the generals who had been demoted to
colonels would retain their official post and continue doing the same work as
they had as generals, though they would have less authority.
of Defense spokesman said the next reform step would be to reduce the number of
colonels - some 20,000 of whom there are believed to be, though precise numbers
are hard to come by because many are thought to be illegally
Overall, the RCAF is working toward reducing its total troop
numbers from 120,000 to 90,000.