The acting head of state, Say Chhum, signed off on promotions for nearly 200 Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) officers in March, including at least two generals who sit on the ruling Cambodian People’s Party’s Central Committee.
The action brings the number of new or promoted generals to nearly 1,000 in just over a year.
According to the most recent Royal Book, two officers were promoted to four-star general, 18 to three-star general, and 64 to two-star general. Another 100 were promoted to one-star general.
Defence Ministry spokesman Chum Socheat, said: “The promotion complies with the lower level request and the hierarchy.
“It has nothing to do with election concerns or nepotism. The promotions were based solely on their remarkable achievements.
“There is no diluting the value of being a general. These soldiers have remarkable achievements and have reached the day, month and year of consideration for it.”
However, former CNRP lawmaker Cheam Channy, who worked on defence issues for the court-dissolved opposition party, said he believes the inflated ranks were to protect the leader of the ruling party.
“The promotions are a preparation for the election . . . Our country is small yet there are thousands of generals. This is hard [to comprehend when] compared with other countries,” Channy said.
Military insiders estimate that as of March last year, the total number of generals in RCAF was about 3,000.
Since then, 707 more generals have been added. Cambodia is believed to have a standing military of 125,000 troops. By contrast, the US military has 1.8 million active troops and roughly 900 generals and admirals.
Last year, Defence Ministry officials told The Post that senior officers often reduce their ranks when working with counterparts from overseas.