T HE Cambodian army has formed an elite unit to protect the country's political leadership in addition to regular defense duties.
The unit, designated Battalion 70, was inaugurated on Saturday afternoon by commander in Chief general Ke Kim Yan.
It comprises five units including a light-armored squadron, totaling 2,262 men under the command of Lieutenant-General Mao Sophan.
"In addition to battlefield duties, the mission of this battalion is to protect the top [political] leadership of the government," the Cambodian armed forces chief said in a parade ground address.
The armored component includes a mixed squadron of Russian-built BTR-60 armored cars, BMP infantry fighting vehicles (IFVS), and BMD armored cars."
Nine vehicles were on display with several others parked nearby.
Senior officers said the men were drawn from an old Regiment 70 beefed up by the combined bodyguards unit of the two prime ministers - First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.
"Discipline in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces is an important objective which needs to be improved, especially control and respect for our laws. This guards unit will have to improve standards," General Ke Kim Yan said.