Cambodia’s top-level military officials met Tuesday for a day-long brainstorming session on the future of the country’s defense policy.
The Defense White Paper Seminar, co-hosted by the Cambodian Ministry of National Defense and the Australian Defense Department, sought to give direction to a country newly at peace and trying to build stronger ties with its neighbors.
“One cannot fail to be impressed that Cambodia has come a long way and very quickly to be at a point where it is in a position to give serious and sustained thought to the production of a white paper on national defense,” Australian Ambassador Malcolm Leader said. “Cambodia is doing so as a nation at peace, calmly and confidently,” Leader said. “It is also doing so as a nation whose major political forces are reconciled and determined to cooperate. And it is doing so as a nation fully integrated into its region.”
The topics at the seminar ranged from demobilizing thousands of soldiers to defining the relationship between the civilian government and the military. A separate group will take ideas from the seminar and compile them into the official defense policy.
“We need to reform RCAF,” said Prince Sisowath Sirirath, co-minister of the Ministry of Defense. In order to reshape the military, “you must teach the officers and soldiers about the reforms.”
Major General Neang Phat, director general of the department of national defense, said document is another step in building trust within Asean partners.
“Cambodia has already obtained peace and social and political stability,” Neang Phat said. The task now, he said, is to develop a clear plan to guide the country into the future.