The Ministry of National Defence is set to add new blood into the Kingdom’s armed forces, with its military academy starting a new round of enrollment and recruitment to fill nearly 700 vacancies.
While the ministry said the recruitment is meant to protect the Kingdom’s peace, sovereignty and the people’s well-being, observers are sceptical, claiming the armed forces is often used to protect powerful private companies and the political elite.
In a press release, the ministry’s undersecretary of state Phuong Siphan encourages applicants to take part in its active armed force unit, royal armed forces and specialised technical army, among others.
“Applicants of both genders who would like to work for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces can register to take an examination,” he said.
Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat said the ministry will select 680 recruits to study and work in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF).
“Candidates for the RCAF must be Cambodian citizens, aged 18 to 25, and be healthy and physically fit for their tasks. They must also possess a high school diploma and a clean criminal record,” he said.
He said the recruitment is an annual process aimed to protect the national boundaries, peace, the people’s well-being, and replace army officers who have reached retirement age.
Socheat said RCAF will start accepting applications from October 16 to December 7. Applicants are required to submit applications at the National Defence University and military garrisons 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
RCAF commander Hun Manet said the Defence Ministry enlists new army officers every year to fill positions left vacant after senior army officers retired.
“Peace and national stability are protected by the armed force. They defend the country and people without discrimination and regardless of their political affiliation."
“Their duties and responsibility are to protect the government, defend the constitution and serve the country."
“They have the right to follow any political party they like, but their duty is to protect the nation, not the party,” he said.
Manet said the academy has taken measures to ensure transparency throughout the enrollment and recruitment process.
Rights group Adhoc spokesman Soeng Senkarona welcomed the new recruitment but urged the defence ministry to prevent the armed forces from protecting private companies and powerful individuals.
“I don’t think the armed forces should be used to protect private companies and individuals. We should use them only to protect the government,” he said.