RCAF has promoted 214 officers to the rank of one-, two- and three-star generals, and has promoted hundreds more to the rank of colonel, military officials said.
RCAF Commander in Chief General Ke Kim Yan said the promotions did not affect the government’s long-standing efforts to demobilize soldiers and reduce Cambodia’s increasingly elderly and grossly bloated armed forces.
“The promotion of RCAF officials and generals does not effect the [demobilization] of soldiers because the number is still the same, but they were just promoted to a higher rank,” Ke Kim Yan said by telephone on Tuesday.
“We have to promote them because they have worked for a long time and some are old,” he said.
Though the government lacks the means to demobilize troops, the military hopes to retire more than 40,000 soldiers in the next five years, Ke Kim Yan said.
A World Bank funded, multi-million dollar demobilization project, intended to ease 30,000 soldiers into civilian life by 2005, was scrapped in 2003 following the discovery of misprocurement on a $6.9 million contract to provide motorbikes to former soldiers.
Following reports that the Bank had threatened to pull all projects in Cambodia, the government announced on Jan 19 that it had repaid the Bank $2.8 million allegedly misappropriated from the demobilization project.
RCAF officer Pouk Sary blamed the increase in top brass on the CPP and Funcinpec trying to promote officers from their parties.
“We have too many generals but no soldiers under them,” Pouk Sary said.
A senior RCAF general, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday that one- and two-star generals were paid approximately 900,000 riel a month, (about $225) including expenses, while a three-star general makes 1.7 million riel a month, (about $425) including expenses.