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All smiles from the generals

All smiles from the generals

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.

Those

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

donors.

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

reform".

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.

A Ministry

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

appointed.

Overall, the RCAF is working toward reducing its total troop

numbers from 120,000 to 90,000.

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