Military Plans New National Defense Policy

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.

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