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Government Considers Reducing Military, Police

Cambodia is preparing to put 3,000 soldiers to retirement this year, in a bid to continue the reform of its security forces, a senior official said Thursday.

“There has been some preparation, and there is the possibility we will do it this year,” Defense Minister Tea Banh told VOA Khmer.

Cambodia hopes to eventually reduce its forces from 200,000 to 80,000.

About 100,000 soldiers are ready to retire, Tea Banh said, but the government lacks the budget to fund their retirement.

Rank, title and other details for the retirees have not been publicly released.

An infantry officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said about 1,600 infantry personnel due to be retired, from either disability or age. About 20 military advisers are due to be retired soon, the official said.

The latest defense White Paper, published on the Ministry of Defense’s Web site, says the government has largely completely the demobilization of army personnel.

“Although 15,000 personnel, the number intended for demobilization in phase two, remain to be demobilized, the current figure represents a significant reduction compared to the approximately 165,000 personnel serving before1999,” according to the White Paper.

The five-year plan of the government calls for the demobilization of 30,000 soldiers, starting in May 2000, with a budget from donors of $45 million, but the plan was delayed until mid-2003.

Tea Banh said this year’s retirement is not budgeted through donor assistance.

The infantry officer said many soldiers want to retire, in exchange with an offer of land and money from the government.

In years past, Cambodia spent up to 30 percent of its budget for defense and national security. In 2009, defense was budgeted for $160 million of a total $1.8 billion.