Military personnel from over 20 nations were to gather in Phnom Penh today for the start of a training event scheduled to run to the end of the month, according to the Defense Ministry.
The multinational peacekeeping exercises dubbed Angkor Sentinel 10, part of the US-sponsored Global Peace Operations Initiative which aims to develop the peacekeeping capabilities of developing nations, was scheduled to begin today with week-long of “command post” exercise intended to train participants in running military operations to UN peacekeeping standards.
“There are two kinds of exercises,” said Colonel Ker Savoeun, peacekeeping department director at the National Center for Peacekeeping. “The command post, which they will do indoors and field exercises, which we will do at the ACO Tank Command headquarters” in Kompong Speu province’s Phnom Sruoch district.
Field exercises were to being on Saturday, he said. Col Savoeun said he did not know the exact number of nations participating in the command post exercises but added that eight were to participate in the field exercises: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand, Tonga and the US.
“We will just use light weapons like AK-47s. There will be no use of real bullets; we will shoot the fake [modified] bullets,” Col Savoeun said.
The ACO Tank Command Headquarters is home to a $1.8 million US-funded peacekeeping center. The tank command is also the scene of continuing land disputes.
However, Col Savoeun said the exercises would be conducted away from the disputed land and that a fence had been built to prevent any disturbances.
In a statement on Thursday, Human Rights Watch denounced the US government, claiming that was lending credibility to RCAF despite the Cambodian armed forces’ poor human rights record.
The US Embassy has defended its military relations with Cambodia, insisting that the ties have been strictly vetted.
Contacted by e-mail yesterday, embassy spokesman John Johnson declined to offer any details about this month’s exercises as he said they were still being finalized.
(Additional reporting by Zsombor Peter)