Citing out-of-control rank inflation, Minister of Defense General Tea Banh said yesterday the ministry would be temporarily suspending promotions of generals.
Speaking during a celebration marking the 58th anniversary of RCAF, Gen Banh said promotions—especially those of generals—had skyrocketed in recent years and needed to be checked.
“I announce that we now are stopping to promote generals. There are too many generals, and we now stop promoting generals for a while,” said Gen Banh.
During his speech at the ministry’s Phnom Penh headquarters, Gen Banh told the roughly 200 officials massed for the occasion that rank inflation had gotten out of control.
In 2010, RCAF reported having more than 2,200 generals. While Gen Banh didn’t provide updated figures, he said yesterday that the number of generals had increased by 60 percent between 2010 and 2011, even as the retirement age was pushed back five years.
“In the year 2011—from the first semester until now—we increased 60 percent,” he said, adding that some have been promoted to ranks higher than the role they play in the military.
“We have to understand now the rank is higher than the position,” he said.
Gen Banh compared the current situation to that of 1993, when a merging of the armies of the CPP, Khmer People’s National Liberation Front and Funcinpec led to a massive swelling of the ranks.
“In 1993, we cut two levels of rank. There is no other country that did that like Cambodia. We agreed to demote and were happy,” he said. “We went from more than 1,800 generals to more than 200 generals.”
Yesterday, however, Gen Banh stressed there would be no demotion but instead urged that the Ministry retire officials when they reach retirement age.
“It is difficult to cut the rank from the position in RCAF,” he said.
During May, June and July of this year, scores of promotions were given out in wake of clashes at Preah Vihear. They followed a series of high-level military promotions including that of Major General Hun Manet in January.
In 2009, meanwhile, Prime Minister Hun Sen, Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President Heng Samrin were each given the rank of five-star general.
Speaking after yesterday’s announcement, Lieutenant General Srey Dek, a commander at Preah Vihear, applauded the move, saying the number of generals had grown too high.
“I strongly support the halting of promotions of rank at RCAF because there are too many generals,” said Lt Gen Dek.