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National Army of Democratic Kampuchea (NADK)

The absence of development of force capability was clearly evident in the Khmer Rouge regimes defense posture. During the war against the Khmer Republic (1970-1975), most of the Khmer Rouge military cadres who joined the movement voluntarily were not given sufficient military training. Strategy was designed on a war of the masses and through political motivation. Their victory in April 1975 was generally achieved through political advantage and overwhelming support of the people; and because of deteriorated popularity, corruption, anarchy and internal rifts within the Khmer Republic regime, rather than through the skilful application of military force.

After it came to power in 1975, no effort was made by the Khmer Rouge regime through training and modernization, to develop its armed forces, known as the National Army of Democratic Kampuchea (NADK). There are a number of reasons why the Pol Pot regime did not develop these programs. Firstly, large numbers of the NADK were forced to work on farms under reeducation programs, while others were involved in the regimes brutal internal security measures.

Secondly, by the time the Khmer Rouge began to rule the country, Cambodia having been severely damaged by war, the first relaxed two years had not given the regime sufficient time to develop its forces. Soon after though, the regime began to wage war against its neighbor, and faced internal conflict, factors that led to mass purges and massacres of their own kind that resulted in millions of innocent people losing their lives.

At that time Pol Pot's policy first focused on resolving the internal security issue, especially the so-called purge of his social enemies. This genocidal policy applied to Khmer Rouge military personnel and cadres and forced some Khmer Rouge Units and members to flee to Vietnam. Pol Pot then commenced to consider Vietnam as his real enemy. Where previously the regime had eliminated those accused of being US CIA or Soviet KGB, now groups of families of innocent people accused of having Vietnamese blood, or being hostile agents, were brought to be killed.

In 1977, because of land disputes and a clash of ideologies, the Khmer Rouge began a campaign to claim disputed territory, resulting in military tension on the border. Confrontation, with no attempt at a diplomatic solution, ignited into fill-scale war when the Khmer Rouge troops launched several attacks approximately 70 kilometers deep into Vietnam at the end of 1977 and throughout 1978.

Subsequently, with an increase in the anti-Khmer Rouge movement, the Kampuchean Solidarity and National Salvation Front being established on 02 December 1978 at Kratie's Snoul District, and in accordance with the appeal from the Cambodian people, the Kampuchean Solidarity and National Salvation Armed Forces together with the Vietnamese Peoples Armed Forces toppled the Khmer Rouge on 07 January 1979. For these reasons and because of the implementation of the policy of killing its own kind, the Khmer Rouge lost support from the nation and was defeated abruptly.

As of 1973, Khmer Rouge troop strength according to one estimate was about 200,000, at which time Lon Nol's forces, including paramilitary, had peaked at around 290,000. The Khmer Rouge's troop strength was estimated to be about 30,000 in 1991. When Pol Pot died in 1998, the last Khmer Rouge fighters were on the run from government soldiers and the estimated Khmer Rouge troop strength stood at 2,000 fighters.

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