The government will delay demobilizing 15,000 soldiers until December because the first phase of the military’s downsizing is not complete, and the government does not have enough materials to provide for the soldiers, senior officials said.
The upcoming rainy season—which will flood many areas and limit access to the soldiers—is also a factor for the setback, said Prince Sisowath Sirirath, co-minister of defense.
This is the third delay in Phase II of demobilization, which was set to begin first in January, then was pushed back until May.
“We still have to wait for the [demobilization] packages to arrive,” Prince Sirirath said Wednesday.
According to the government’s demobilization plan, each demobilized soldier will receive a severance package, which will include food, building materials, money, motorcycles, sewing machines or other material.
However, the local companies contracted by the government to provide the severance packages have not yet completed the orders, the prince said.
Phase I of the $42 million demobilization effort, which transferred 15,000 soldiers from military to civilian life, was for the most part completed at the end of 2001. However, many of the 15,000 former soldiers have said the government has not delivered the complete severance packages to them.
Another 15,000 soldiers are scheduled to be in Phase II of demobilization, leaving a total of approximately 100,000 soldiers on active duty.
During the Consultative Group meeting in June, in which donors pledged $635 million to the government—Japan’s statement of declaration said that “the implementation of the re-integration process was in delay.”
Juro Chikaraishi, resident representative of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, said his organization is working closely with the government in order to formulate demobilization projects, such as vocational training programs. He declined to comment on the delays in demobilization, saying, “We don’t have a schedule for this.”
One government demobilization official on Tuesday confirmed that many demobilized soldiers are still waiting to get “motorbikes, generators, sewing machines and water pumps.” The official added that the full packages will arrive soon.