The Defence Ministry yesterday told members of the armed forces to brace themselves for a restructuring initiative ordered by Prime Minister Hun Sen last week in a bid to reduce its number of generals.
Last week, Mr Hun Sen ordered the Defence and Interior Ministries to restructure high ranking generals, noting that only the Defence Minister, commander-in-chief and the chief of National Police should hold a four-star general ranking, while heads of the ministries’ general departments must hold the rank of major general.
General Neang Phat, a secretary of state at the Defence Ministry, said during a monthly meeting yesterday that military officials should refrain from being disappointed during the restructuring process.
“The government has a long plan and step-by-step strategy to increase the quality and efficiency of the leadership of the armed forces,” Gen Phat said in a Facebook post.
Defence Ministry spokesman General Chhum Sucheat yesterday said over the phone that a rumour saying that the government will demote all members of the armed forces is wrong.
“Please do not be demoralised because we always pay attention to our senior military officials who struggled in the previous generation,” Gen Sucheat said. “Samdech Techo Hun Sen has a specific plan and strategy to develop our armed forces.”
National Police spokesman Lieutenant General Chhay Kim Khoeun said Mr Hun Sen was clear when the order was made.
“We are not worried about this because Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke clearly, and this is a plan for the future,” Lt Gen Kim Khoeun said.
Last week, Mr Hun Sen said that the restructuring will be further implemented in the future as high-ranking military officials retire.
“Regarding the armed forces, I think that our reform only applies to high-ranking and low-ranking army commanders,” he said. “Next time, when navy and air force commanders retire, their predecessors will be ranked lieutenant general – only the RCAF’s commander-in-chief will rank as a general.”
On Monday, Defence Minister General Tea Banh said the exact number of military officials ranked as one-star generals or above cannot be revealed due to fear of exaggeration by political analysts.
Lieutenant General Hun Manet, army commander, on Sunday during an annual army meeting at the Intervention Division II headquarters in Siem Reap province said that the government should implement the restructuring with proper consideration.
“The promotion of senior military officials who have struggled in the previous generation is not wrong,” he said. “The government’s reform must be done step-by-step.”