BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA
The Cambodian Government plans to send 60 soldiers to attend a multi national exercise codenamed “Garuda Shield 2009” scheduled from the 9th to 30th June in Indonesia. The exercise is organized by the Indonesia’s Ministry of Defense, in partnership with the American Military Academy and supported by the United Nations. The exercise will strengthen cooperation, solidarity and friendships among soldiers in region, according to General Ker Savoeun, Director of Cambodian Peace Keeping Forces and the International Office in charge of the United Nations Mission with the Ministry of National Defense.
General Savoeun said that 13 countries would also be sending their troops to attend the exercises at the Indonesia Military Training Center.
“This is the third time for Cambodia to send its troops to participate in multi national exercises abroad,” Savoeun said during a telephone interview with The Southeast Asia Weekly on June 4.
The main purpose of the military exercise is firstly to build up and improve Cambodian troop capacity. They will also exchange soldier’s tales and share experience with participating countries. Secondly the exercises will promote peace and stability, strengthen solidarity and further good relations among all troops in the region. This will strengthen peace, security, safety and development, according to Savoeun.
General Savoeun continued to say that Cambodian troops will leave for Indonesia on July 9, 2009 and they will stay in Indonesia, along with other international contingents for three weeks.
During that time, Cambodian troops will learn many military skills including military planning, strategic planning and combat efficiency, within the overall scheme of peacekeeping, according to the General Savoeun.
“I hope that Cambodian troops will gain more knowledge, new skills and useful experience that will help them fulfill their duties. Upon their return, they should be better able to ensure the security of our nation and the world in general,” he said.
General Savoeun also said that besides sending troops to Indonesia, Cambodia’s Ministry of National Defense would also send 52 Cambodian de-mining troops to help the UN Mission clear mines in Sudan.
According to the Ministry’s schedule, the de-mining team will be leaving for Sudan on June 9, 2009 and staying there for over one year.
He noted that Cambodia has sent teams consisting of 135 de miners to Sudan every year since 2006.
Savoeun also said that Cambodia plans to host a multi national military exercise in mid-2010. He added that according to plans, there would be military representation from 13 countries. These exercises will operate out of the armored vehicle base in Kampong Speu province.
According to a Ministry of National Defense report, to date roughly 500 Cambodian troops are currently active with UN Peacekeeping forces across the world. /////
General Kheav Chhen, Military Officer in the Ministry of National Defense, said that in 2007, Cambodia sent 44 troops to attend exercises in Mongolia, and in 2008, 44 troops were sent for exercises in Bangladesh.
“I am proud of our troops as now they are capable and fully qualified to fulfill their peacekeeping duties for the United Nations, as well as taking care of security at home,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly by telephone.