The Royal Cambodian Army on Saturday kicked off its first live-fire exercise, the Golden Hanuman 2019, in Kampot province with more than 2,000 soldiers ascending upon a 10,000-hectare training ground for the annual training.
Lieutenant General Hun Manet, army commander, inspected troops and heavy armour, such as APCs, artillery vehicles, helicopters and tanks.
During his opening speech, he said that the Golden Hanuman is important and its lessons should be implemented by soldiers.
“The opening ceremony of the exercise today reflected the commitment and efforts of military officers and soldiers in order to ensure effective national defence,” Lt Gen Manet said. “This even shows good solidarity among RCAF soldiers, who are the main forces in peace, stability and development in all sectors.”
“The Royal Cambodian Army, even under any circumstance, is loyal to and absolutely respects orders from the Royal Government, Ministry of Defence and RCAF high command,” he added.
Lt Gen Manet also praised military officers who cooperated well with local authorities in order to make the training happen.
“I wish to support and encourage military officers and soldiers who worked hard to fulfil their duties,” he said.
Lt Gen Manet said that under the leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and the win-win policy, Cambodia has national unity.
“We still face challenges because of attempts to cause instability by a small group of extremists who are supported by foreigners who want to interfere in Cambodia’s internal affairs,” he said. “They only think of their own personal benefit without caring about peace and happiness of people.”
Lt Gen Manet then called on military personnel to respect the Kingdom’s constitution and be loyal to the nation.
“You must be against any incitement and smearing campaigns made by the enemy,” he said.
On Friday, one day before the opening ceremony, soldiers transported dozens of heavy armour and military equipment to the training ground surrounded by several mountains in Trapaing Veng commune.
Lieutenant General Mao Sophann, commander of Brigade 70 and head of exercise committee, said a total of 2,391 soldiers are participating in Golden Hanuman 2019.
Lt Gen Sophann said the RCA have been rehearsing since last month and that a closing ceremony will be held on Wednesday. He said the RCA will use more than 10 types of heavy weapons.
“We will use 13 different types of weapons, along with 13,523 ammunition and 14,000 grams of TNT,” Lt Gen Sophann said. “We will also use 298 military vehicles and equipment, such as 20 BM-21 and RM-70 rocket launchers.”
Lt Gen Sophann said RCAF high command has sent members of the Bodyguard Unit, Army Institute, military police officers and other soldiers from the Defence Ministry to join.
“We will conduct military exercises even when our nation is at peace and there is stability, with people living in safe conditions,” he said. “Cambodian people believe in and congratulate the leadership of Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen because he has brought peace, political stability and development.”
Major General Mao Phalla, RCA spokesman, said Golden Hanuman 2019 is Lt Gen Manet’s first command after he was promoted to RCA commander in September.
“The main purpose of our exercise today is to strengthen capacity, knowledge and expertise,” Maj Gen Phalla said during a press conference before the exercise. “We also want to measure the abilities of our recent graduates at military schools.”
He said the drill is not intended to threaten any group or country, adding that next year RCA will hold an even bigger drill.
According to the Defence Ministry, Cambodia has held three similar drills. The first was in 2010, the second in 2013, while the last one was held last year.