More than 1,000 troops are currently participating in this year’s five-day Golden Hanuman live-ammunition military training exercises in Kampot province’s Chumkiri district, aimed at enhancing the nation’s military capabilities.
The Ministry of National Defence website on Sunday said that weapons and equipment used in the drills, which began on Saturday and will finish on Wednesday, include 152mm and 122mm artillery field guns, 23mm and 37mm guns, tanks, armoured vehicles, ambulances and fire and transportation trucks.
Hun Manet, the deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and commander of its infantry, said the Golden Hanuman military drills aim to show any potentially “hostile elements” that the RCAF are loyal to their legitimate government and are ready and able to protect the constitution and stand firm in defence of the nation.
“The event shows the solidarity of the RCAF, who are pillars of the nation’s peace, stability and development in all sectors."
“It shows hostile elements that the RCAF’s army troops are prepared for any circumstances and remain absolutely loyal and respectful to the government, the Ministry of National Defence and the general command without ever wavering,” the ministry website quoted Manet as saying at the launch of the drills.
RCAF infantry spokesman Brigadier General Mao Phalla told The Post on Sunday that the drills are being held to build on the army’s previous training, measure its current capability and allow military trainees to learn more about practical battlefield exercises.
“The exercises are designed to develop cooperation between the infantry, special forces which are subordinate to the army, and the air force. Even though the drills are simulations, they resemble a battle and enable the participants to learn about combat in as real a scenario as is possible,” Phalla said.
He said last year’s Golden Hanuman drills, which were led by the commander of the RCAF, were larger than this year’s exercises, which are being led by the army.
Phalla said there are more than 1,000 participants in this year’s core drills, with another 1,000 taking part in the opening and closing ceremonies.
Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director San Chey told The Post on Sunday that the term “hostile elements” used by Manet was undesirable because it can lead to confusion whether it is being used in a peaceful manner or implies something different.
He said during such important events, the military should talk about the strengths and development of the RCAF and improving national defence, rather than indirectly slurring some unnamed party.
San Chey said that he of course wanted to see soldiers improving their skills, especially to protect and defend national sovereignty.
“I also think that as development continues, we should consider living conditions from the lowest to the highest ranks and make sure the gap is not too wide,” he said.