The Council of Ministers on Friday passed a royal decree requiring members of the military to be listed as reserve soldiers for five years from the day they retire and annually participate in military training, an RCAF official said yesterday.
Lieutenant General Chhum Sucheat, spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, said soldiers, military conscripts and non-combatant members of the army, such as engineers and medical personnel, would be obliged to remain reservists after resigning or retiring from RCAF.
“All the reservists will be kept on for five years,” he said, “Every year they will be a meeting or training for them.”
In a statement released Friday the Council said the royal decree was drafted, “[I]n order to create a military reserve [force] of [RCAF] to fulfill professional military service units when there is an urgent need from the nation.”
The National Assembly passed the military conscription law in October 2006, requiring all Cambodians aged 18 to 30 to register for military service and to serve 18 months in RCAF if called upon. The law could not take effect, however, until the Council of Ministers approved a sub-decree to enact it.
Lt Gen Sucheat said yesterday that Friday’s royal decree on the military reserves was part of the ongoing reorganization of RCAF and was not related to the ongoing border dispute with Thailand.
“This is not for the border issues, but we do it for our long-term work, like in other countries that have a military reserve [force],” he said.
Lt Gen Sucheat said however, that the build up of a reserve force would follow the retirement of more soldiers and the introduction of conscription-for both these measures there are currently no funds available.
“If the National Assembly approves [a new military budget] we could start,” he said.
According to the National Budget military spending in 2010 stands at $277 million, or 14 percent of Cambodia’s overall expenses.
SRP spokesman Yim Sovann rejected the idea of expending RCAF further to include a reserve force, as it could open the way for corruption and inefficient administrative management in the army.