Angkor Sentinel is an annual bilateral exercise sponsored by U.S. Army Pacific and hosted by the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces that focuses on providing humanitarian assistance and responding to disasters. The first Angkor Sentinel exercise was held in 2010.
Exercise Angkor Sentinel (AS12) was a continuation of ongoing U.S. Army efforts co-sponsored by the U.S. military and Royal Cambodian Army. The purpose of the exercise is to provide an environment for Cambodian army and United States army partnership. The exercise will include planning and executing a battalion level command post exercise, engineering civic action projects (ENDCAP) and executing a medical civic action program (MEDCAP). The exercise will also provide the venue for assistance and training to the Cambodian military, and support U.S. and Cambodian security objectives.
The first phase of a large-scale military exercise entitled “Angkor Sentinel 2010” kicked off in Phnom Penh on July 12 with the participation of more than 1,000 soldiers from 26 countries. This is the first time Cambodia has hosted such a multi-national military exercise. Gen. Moeng Sampham, Secretary of State of Cambodia’s National Defense Ministry, said the “Command Post Exercise (CPX)” aims to enhance capacity for both the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and military from various countries through the process of multi-national operations exercise in order to fulfil the UN standards in the purpose of peacekeeping operation. The second phase of the exercise entitled “Field Exercise” will officially take place in Kompong Speu province, about 50 km from Phnom Penh, on July 17 with the presence of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. Both of the military exercises are part of the Global Peace Operations Initiatives (GPOI).
Around 1,000 personnel from 26 countries were involved in the first Angkor Sentinel exercise in July 2010, which drew criticism from US-based Human Rights Watch. At the time, HRW released a statement claiming that participating Cambodian military units were complicit in human rights abuses.
Cambodia and the US started a joint military exercise dubbed "Angkor Sentinel 2013" in the former's Kampong Speu province on May 16. During the 14-day event at the Training Centre for Multinational Peacekeeping Forces, members of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and the US Pacific Command (PACOM) will practise themselves to improve the quality of security staff in peacekeeping forces as well as skills to use computers and communications systems to better solve security issues. The two sides hope that such joint exercises and other cooperation programmes will help improve the quality of and expand peacekeeping and stability operations in the region. In Cambodia, PACOM focuses on peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance operations, including battlefield medical staff training, a counter-improvised explosive devices field training exercise and a battalion staff training exercise to assist Cambodian troops in deploying UN peacekeeping missions.
U.S. forces from the Idaho Army National Guard arrived in Cambodia in early March 2015 for the commencement of Angkor Sentinel 2015, March 9, 2015. This year marked the sixth iteration of this significant and highly-productive regional training exercise. During the exercise, U.S. service members from the Idaho Task Force, in conjunction with their Cambodian counterparts, will focus their training on Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief operations. This year's event, which took place from March 9 to 20, is not the first time the IDARNG has teamed up with the AFP. This year's exercise was the sixth time the IDARNG has undertaken the annual bilateral military exercise conducted between U.S. Armed Forces and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.
"The biggest difference we've seen from last year to this year is the progression of the RCAF senior leaders," said Lt. Col. Darren Blagburn, the operations officer for Idaho Task Force. "Their capabilities and their experience has proven invaluable and they're helping the junior leaders in their development. As well, the National Guardsmen that have come back bring a wealth of experience because they know what the challenges are upfront and have solutions in their kitbags."
Soldiers from the IDARNG will conduct a combined battalion staff exercise, alongside their RCAF counterparts, at the Peacekeeping Operations Center, in Kampong Speu Province, in addition to conducting Junior Leader Training, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Expert Exchange, Medical First Responder and Jungle Operations training. According to the Assistant Adjutant General-Army, Brigadier General John Goodale of the Idaho Army National Guard, Angkor Sentinel 2015 provided an opportunity for Soldiers exchange ideas and to improve their skills for operating in a local, regional and global environment.
U.S. and Cambodian forces officially opened Angkor Sentinel 2016, an annual bilateral military exercise hosted by the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and sponsored by the U.S. Army Pacific, during a ceremony, March 14, at the Training School for Multinational Peacekeeping Forces in Kampong Speu Province, Cambodia. This year marked the seventh iteration of the exercise that's designed to collectively strengthen the two countries' humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities and improve military-to-military cooperation.
The two-week exercise brought together Cambodian Forces from the Royal Cambodian Army (RCA), National Center for Peacekeeping Forces, Mine, & Explosive Remnants of War Clearance (NPMEC), and Gendarmerie Royale Khmer (GRK), with U.S. forces from U.S. Army Pacific, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, 130th Theater Engineer Brigade, 8th Military Police Brigade, 303rd Explosive Ordnance Battalion, Idaho Army National Guard, 18th Medical Command, Asia Pacific C-IED Fusion Center (APCFC), and 413th Contracting Brigade.
The concentrated training agenda includes intense academics, team-building events, and practical exercises intended to foster exchange and opportunities for the two countries' militaries to learn about each others tactics, techniques and procedures, while strengthening relationships and building the foundation for future Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises.
Cambodia informed the United States 16 January 2017 that it was canceling an annual joint military exercise this year, even though planning for the event had already begun. Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Chhum Socheath said the Angkor Sentinel exercise had to be postponed because Cambodian forces would be unable to fully participate as a result of two important events: local elections in June and a six-month campaign to eradicate drug-related crime.
Southeast Asian nations, even traditional allies of the United States such as the Philippines, had recently drawn closer to China as Beijing flexed its diplomatic and military muscle in the region. Cambodian and Chinese officials have a common understanding on security issues, and China is Cambodia’s largest source of foreign investment and aid.
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