The armed forces conducted a live-fire exercise on the border between Pailin and Battambang provinces yesterday, with 270 air force and artillery personnel firing more than 1,000 rounds of large caliber ammunition into the countryside.
Presided over by Defense Minister General Tea Banh, the surface-to-air portion of the training exercise was designed to sharpen the soldiers’ ability to defend against an air attack, according to Brigadier General Sok Pang, commander of the air force protection unit.
Brig Gen Pang said that four 37-mm cannons were use to fire between 150 and 200 rounds of ammunition at floating clusters of balloons in the sky. Twelve 22-mm cannons were also used to fire between 1,000 and 1,600 rounds at the balloon targets, he added.
“The exercise is a result of our 100 air force officers training for the past three months at Battambang province’s Region 5 headquarters,” Brig Gen Pang said. “Although our country’s civil war has ended, our weapons are still of quality and our air force officers can now use all of these weapons.”
In the artillery training exercise, held simultaneously with the air force training yesterday, 170 soldiers from an RCAF infantry unit fired 100-mm mortar shells at Phnom Veng Mountain in Battambang province’s Ratanak Mondol district, according to the unit commander, Brigadier General Pov Sokha.
“We used 12 mortars to fire artillery shells at the target destination two km away,” Brig Gen Sokha said. “There were 130 shells fired during the exercise and our artillerymen were smart, hitting the target with 95 percent accuracy.”
Ros Limsoeun, deputy police chief in Ratanak Mondol district, where mortar shells were directed yesterday, said no one had been hurt during the exercise. Mr Limsoeun said that villagers had been warned about the exercise in advance and been banned from the area for the past three days.
“No villagers or their cows were hurt by the shells,” he said. “Now the exercise has finished, our villagers can go back into the jungle.”