Hun Manet, the deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), said military reform aims to strengthen the RCAF and increase battlefield readiness so that it can defend territorial integrity, which he said is of utmost importance.

His remarks were made during a promotion ceremony on Saturday to appoint a commander and a chief of staff at Siem Reap Region IV headquarters.

“The strategic direction of the Royal Government in military reform and the role of the army in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces is to strengthen its abilities and be ready for the battlefield in order to safeguard territorial sovereignty, to protect security and peace for the people and to overcome all types of enemies,” he said.

Hun Manet also defended the appointment of Pov Heng as the new commander and Sok Rina as chief of staff in Military Region 4, which he said had been thoroughly reviewed by the military leadership.

“In the past, there were many other officers who have merits, but these two people were selected because as a first principle we prioritise those who are in the unit. This is a principle that the Royal Cambodian Army takes regarding nominations to every unit."

“And secondly, it is based on will, ability, experience, seniority, and especially leadership and responsibility. Choosing a commander who is able to maintain good internal solidarity is very important,” he stressed.

He said peace and development in Cambodia is the greatest victory given to the Cambodian people under the leadership of the prime minister’s strategic direction, and the government will not allow foreigners, groups or individuals to damage those achievements.

“The Royal Government does not allow any foreigners, groups or individuals to destroy the peace and achievements which have been accomplished by sacrificing lives, through interfering in the internal affairs [and causing] Cambodia to fall into the fire of war,” he said.

Analyst Meas Nee said the government should strengthen the economic sector. He said if the economy grows stronger, it means the military needs to be stronger as well.

“We must strengthen the military sector, but when we strengthen the military sector, it must be in line with economic growth,” he said.