The Australian government made its largest commitment to defense cooperation here in more than two years Friday by opening a 10-month English-language training course at the RCAF Senior Officer Academy in Phnom Penh.
Since Canberra suspended aid to the armed forces after the July 1997 factional fighting, this is its most significant military assistance to Cambodia, said Mike Judzewitsch, Australian Embassy defense administrative officer.
“The Australian government made the decision because of the stability put in place by the government,” Judzewitsch said. “This is non-combat, non-lethal training which will help with the development of other reform oriented bodies.”
The language course for cadets will contribute to a more efficient military, Judzewitsch said. Officers proficient in English will push reform forward in Cambodia through their ability to participate in conferences, seminars and training courses with Western and regional nations, he said.RCAF Deputy Commander-in-Chief Khann Savoeun said at the opening ceremony Friday that RCAF soldiers needed better training.
“Especially the senior officers need to learn the English language in order to work internationally and work in management,” the general said, adding the number of soldiers in the army needed to be reduced.
The language course will instruct 100 Cambodian military personnel in basic English with a focus on military terminology.
Australia also recently helped formulate a draft five-year plan for the Defense Ministry.