The Ministry of National Defence will be distributing applications to prospective students from February 1-15 as it looks to recruit a new generation of military trainees to meet the needs of various units of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF).

The recruitment drive, which resumes after more than three years of delay due to the Covid-19 crisis, is headed up by Khieu Sophat, deputy head of the ministry’s General Secretariat, and Chea Dara, rector of the National Defence University (NDU).

Dara said the student recruitment and examination team has cooperated with the NDU by starting the physical examinations and application process for students with a high school diploma by having them fill out the required documents to be recruited into the RCAF as active duty officers, infantry officers, officer candidates and military technical officers for 2023.

“Over the past three years, as Cambodia and the rest of the world has been facing the global Covid-19 pandemic, the student recruitment activities to serve in the RCAF and for the replacement of retired officers of the Cambodian defence sector has been suspended,” he said.

Dara called on students who have graduated from high school who wished to join the army to fill out the application form to enter the training for the 24th generation of active duty officers, 13th generation of infantry officers and the 14th candidate officers and military technical officer classes.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that the recruitment of new trainees is necessary for each country to have soldiers because there are people who have to retire. Without new recruits, the country may lack a military force. He said recruitment is not just for war purposes, but soldiers can serve in a society and for intervention in times of crisis, such as natural disasters.

“This defence work is necessary and must continue because it is not possible to say that a peaceful country does not need a military. If the country grows stronger and more peaceful, the defence sector and the army will need to be strengthened. If we look at our neighbours and the rest of the world, they have had peace before us, they are more advanced than we are, and their defence sectors are stronger,” said Yang Peou.

He added that the government should consider strengthening and developing the military and increase the number of active duty soldiers.

Meas Ny, a social development researcher, said that even though Cambodia is small, increasing its military capabilities is necessary as the world is facing wars such as the Russia-Ukraine war and wars around the world, especially, so military reform in Cambodia paves the way for building real human resource capacity for defence in the future.

“Military reform is necessary,” he said, adding that however, he called on the government to try to eradicate corruption in the military in order to recruit capable human resources to serve the nation rather than party and stop officers from recruiting people through relatives, which could adversely affect the entire defence sector in the future,” he said.