Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - RCAF targets high schools in new recruitment campaign

RCAF targets high schools in new recruitment campaign

A Royal Cambodian Armed Forces recruiter talks to a student at Phnom Penh’s Preah Sisowath High School earlier this week. Freshnews
A Royal Cambodian Armed Forces recruiter talks to a student at Phnom Penh’s Preah Sisowath High School earlier this week. Freshnews

RCAF targets high schools in new recruitment campaign

The Royal Cambodian Armed Forces is doubling down on its recruiting efforts, building on a slick media advertising blitz launched last year and taking its message directly to the nation’s high schools in a bid to boost its ranks with an injection of diploma-wielding youths.

On Tuesday, recruiters kicked off the new campaign with a visit to Lycée Sisowath in Phnom Penh, handing out pamphlets and providing information on joining the nation’s armed forces, which are seeking to promote their officer-training programs, according to a source.

Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat said RCAF wanted recruits with high school diplomas and strong foreign-language skills to improve the military’s human resources.

“We need people with high abilities,” Socheat said.

“They will need to take a physical and capability exam and have school degrees.

“Why do we need more? Of course now we don’t have wars, it is true. But we don’t know when a war might happen; we need to be always ready, so when there are wars, we have enough people and soldiers.”

A senior military source, who declined to be named because they were not authorised to speak with the media, said RCAF wanted to replenish its officer class, with many senior military officers reaching the retirement age of 60.

“This is about building human resources for RCAF,” they said.

“I am sure the team would try to hit as many high schools as they can to raise awareness.”

He said the campaign would push the benefits of military training, such as four-year cadet officer courses at the Thmat Pong Military Academy.

“Basically, it’s like going to a cadet officers school in the United States or Australia, the same concept about what the military can offer – schooling for free, after you’ve completed military service, of course,” he said.

“You get free lodgings, free medical check-ups while you are in training, and once you complete the training, your degree is equivalent to a college degree.”

The source said that while Cambodia would prefer to utilise its existing compulsory military training and service program – for which a law was actually passed in 2006 – the military lacked the budget to sustain the influx, even if the government would choose to enforce it.

At the same time, the National Police are also looking for new recruits, according to a statement on their website yesterday.

For the military, the recent efforts appear to have already paid dividends, with more than 3,000 students applying to sit the RCAF entrance exams in December last year.

Ith Sopharoth, a 17-year-old grade 12 student at Sisowath, said, after taking her examinations, she would consider taking RCAF’s six-month basic training course and trying to enter the National Defense University’s language program, to help bolster her chances of getting a scholarship abroad.

“I know the salary is not high, but it is not important, because I would like it. And it’s not a full-time job, so I can find other work,” Sopharoth said.

But while young graduates may welcome the potential opportunities, critics have long-decried the lack of reform within the unwieldy armed forces, which is often accused of serving the interests of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

In recent months, Defence Minister Tea Banh and top four-star generals including Kun Kim, Neang Phat and Chea Dara have launched public attacks on the opposition.

In a paper released last year studying the prime minister’s control over RCAF, academic Paul Chambers quoted 2014 statistics estimating its size – without including the premier’s personal Bodyguard Unit – at about 191,000.

“Tightly connected to both the Prime Minister and the CPP, Cambodia’s security apparatus is opaque, accountable only to the ruling party, and engages in repression with legal impunity,” wrote Chambers, a professor of international relations at Thailand’s Chiang Mai University.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway