The National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces (NPMEC) is hosting its first multinational operational exercise aimed at improving ordnance removal techniques.

NPMEC director-general Sem Sovanny made the announcement on September 13 during the opening ceremony at the Humanitarian Mine Action Field in Kampong Speu province. The drill, themed “Pure Homeland-2023”, is born of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus).

“We co-chaired the drill with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army [PLA] with participants from 14 countries including ASEAN members, China, the US, Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and Russia,” he said.

The operation, he noted, aims to strengthen military humanitarian cooperation, share experiences and innovate new clearance methods.

“The missions serve as a platform to exchange experiences, particularly in reinforcing solidarity and friendship among ASEAN countries and the broader region,” he said, adding that the ultimate goal is to contribute towards making Cambodia landmine-free by 2025.

According to an NPMEC press release, Cambodia has previously hosted multi-national activities, such as the three Angkor Sentinel exercises involving nine countries, supported by the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI).

The Kingdom has also conducted five technical training courses focused on neutralising improvised explosive devices and destroying unexploded ordnance (UXO), with support from France. These courses were attended by representatives from 12 countries.

Yang Bin Bin, deputy chief of staff of the PLA’s 75th Infantry Division, said the initiative is designed to foster practical cooperation in security and tackle UXO problems to improve regional safety.

“We hope to collaborate with ASEAN to address the challenges posed by [these devices], building a security barrier for the region,” he said.

The 10-day programme, running from September 13-23, will include a study tour to potential tourist sites in the country and humanitarian work, alongside field training. Art performances featuring traditions from both countries are also part of the event.