The twelve-day “Golden Dragon 2024” naval exercises between the Cambodian and Chinese navies went as planned, and were smooth and successful, said Ith Sarath, deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), after the drills concluded on May 27.

This year’s exercises were held under the theme of “Operation to release hostages from a terrorist hijacking of a cargo ship”. 

As he addressed the closing ceremony, Sarath explained that the joint naval drills presented no threat to any other nation, but were aimed at exchanging experiences in order to further enhance the ability of the militaries of both countries, particularly in the fight against terrorism at sea, according to the Ministry of National Defence.

“Golden Dragon 2024 aimed to expand relations, strengthen military capacity and exchange experiences. The Golden Dragon 2024 exercises were not held to intimidate any country,” he said. 

Joint land exercises were also held as part of Golden Dragon, in Phnom Chum Rik Reay in Kampong Chhnang and Preah Sihanouk provinces. A total of 2,075 military personnel joined, 1,315 from the RCAF and 760 from the Chinese military. 

Helicopters fly above one of the vessels during the exercises, which focused on combatting terrorism at sea. Defence Ministry

The equipment used on the land exercises includes 69 armoured vehicles, along with intelligence-gathering drones, explosive ordnance disposal tools and communications devices. 

The naval drills involved 14 vessels – including three from China – and two helicopters.

The exercises were mainly focused on counter-terrorism and humanitarian work, as well as the use of drones.

Sarath advised the Cambodian and Chinese naval participants to continue to pay close attention to increasing cooperation in all fields, in order to increase their professional skills, especially regarding the use of military technology, which is evolving rapidly. 

A military helicopter of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) takes part in the 'Golden Dragon 2024' naval exercises. Defence Ministry

He suggested they meet to discuss further exchanges of experience and set out post-exercise work plans.

They were also instructed to promote friendship, solidarity and strategic cooperation between the militaries and leaders of the two countries, to build unity and a common destiny.

He praised the participants of the exercises for their efforts, which resulted in “successful, safe drills, as planned”.

A pair of rapid-firing naval cannon aboard one of the vessels which took part in the drills. Defence Ministry