MINISTER of Defence Tea Banh has approved a draft administrative and management reform of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), following its submission by new RCAF Commander-in-Chief Pol Saroeun.
The draft Reform of the RCAF Appointment Structure and Management System, approved by Tea Banh on March 5, includes proposed reforms of the army's size, structure, appointment procedures and ranking system, according to documents obtained by the Post.
It also recommends how the army can strengthen the quality of its leadership, encourage responsible command and eliminate the number of non-existent "ghost" soldiers drawing money from the national coffers.
"The RCAF Commander-in-Chief has organised an in-depth reform of the RCAF appointment structure and management system and plans to implement it through the whole of RCAF in the coming months," Pol Saroeun stated in a letter to Tea Banh, dated March 4.
"To ensure the efficiency of implementation of the reforms, I would like to suggest for the Defence Minister to check and approve the draft herewith."
The following day, Tea Banh responded that he "approved in principle" the draft reforms and ordered "all staff to carry out the necessary work".
Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Son Chhay said he welcomed the reform of the armed forces so long as it was conducted fairly and thoroughly, and added that a previous set of army reforms funded by the World Bank failed due to the number of ghost soldiers paying their "salaries" into the pockets of well-connected miltary officials.
"It is time for the government to stop taking advantage by showing unreal numbers of soldiers," he said. He said also that the government should improve the quality of leadership, observing that many officers gained rank through nepotism and corruption.
Pol Saroeun declined to comment in detail Tuesday, saying the reforms were "an internal military issue that needs addressing".