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Cambodia - High Command Headquarters

Commander-in-ChiefIn 1993, the First-Term Government reestablished the defense organization composed of three major institutions: the Ministry of National Defense, the High Command, and the General Staff. In accordance with the Constitution, the King remained Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Under this structure, the Ministry of National Defense was a government institution in charge of policy, logistics and finance, and external relations only.

Peace negotiation were arranged for several occasions between Samdech Hun Sen and Preah Bat Samdech Norodom Sihanouk for the purpose of national unification and reconciliation in a bid to end wars in Cambodia with full support of the United Nations and international community, an endeavor paving the way for the 4 Khmer rivaling parties to appear at negotiation tables and reaching the Paris Peace Accord on October 23, 1991, thereby all the parties agreed to ceasefire and attend a free general election organized by UNTAC on May 23, 1993. H.E. Lieutenant General Ke Kimyan was appointed on July 5, 1993 as General Chief of Staff of the Cambodian National Army under a Royal Decree signed by His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Norodom Sihanouk.

On July 14, 1993, the Royal Gendarmerie of Cambodia was formed by a Decree-Law signed by Preah Bat Norodom Sihanouk, along with the establishment of the Ministry of National Defense and Office of General Chief of Staff of Cambodian National Army. Under the leadership of the Ministry of National Defense, the General Chief of Staff took swift measures to integrate armies of the three wings, including those from former armies of the State of Kampuchea, FUNCIPEC and Khmer People Liberation Front, to re-establish the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. The three armed forces were integrated into divisions, brigades and regiments according to the structure of the General Chief of Staff of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, which is the only national army successfully brought into existence appreciatively.

The High Command Headquarters, which was established shortly after the formation of the RCAF, was commanded by the Co-Commanders-in-Chief of the Cambodian National Armed Forces (this varied from the 1960s organization which saw the Cambodian National Armed Forces include the National Police). The High Command was the highest echelon in the military command hierarchy, and both Prime Ministers were appointed to hold the titles of Co-Commanders-in-Chief. The General Staff commanded the three Services; Army, Navy, and Air Force, and was delegated temporary control of the newly formed Royal Gendarmes. Of significance, the General Staff had specific responsibility for operations, training, and more importantly, the militarys involvement in social security and public order.

The command structure of the defense organization was significantly revised in early 1999 the time when the Second-Term Government commenced with only one Prime Minister. The Prime Minister relinquished his title as the Commander-in-Chief of the Cambodian National Armed Forces, and a new Commander-in-Chief of the RCAF was appointed. The current Commander-in-Chief no longer had command or control over the National Police.

The High Command Headquarters continued to manage military training. The Research and Intelligence Department was also located in the High Command Headquarters. Although this Directorate primarily served as the Defense Intelligence Agency, it performed additional roles in national intelligence activities. It routinely reported to the Commander-in-Chief, but the Director reported to the Prime Minister in circumstances involving special or sensitive issues. Importantly, the General Staff was completely dismantled at the same time, and all three Services were under direct command of the Commander-in-Chief of the RCAF. In addition to the normal chain of command, the Commander-in-Chief l had direct command over a number of units and formations.

A significant change was the creation of the Joint Staff. Structurally, the Joint Staff had responsibility for coordination between the Services. As the Chief of the Joint Staff was also a Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the RCAF, the Joint Staff assumed broader roles in the High Command Headquarters. The Chief of the Joint Staff oversaw all working staff within the Headquarters, and automatically became acting Commander of the RCAF during the absence of the Commander-in-Chief.

The operational commitments for the RCAF are drawn together in the military strategy of flexible and controlled response. This is the overall concept for the structure and deployment of the force. It has been developed to ensure the most effective use of available resources in a variety of roles, to serve all areas of the nation, and to restore close links between a politically neutral force and the people. The strategy has several layers:

At the center is the High Command Headquarters. This is responsible for the overall coordination of military activities and distribution of support throughout Cambodia. It also works closely with the Ministry of National Defense in the development of policy and with other government agencies in coordinating responses to instability or unauthorized activities in the border areas. The High Command Headquarters retains a surge capability of a limited number of formations under direct command together with specialist capabilities being developed on a nationwide basis.

Military RegionsThe core of operations is the Military Region Headquarters. These are responsible for oversighting operations and national development tasks within their region, and for developing effective linkages with the local community. They have significant infantry resources at their disposal together with centralized communication and mobility assets. They coordinate regional intelligence and operations, and will provide a rapid response or reinforcement capability when necessary in contingencies and natural disasters. The strategic bases, when constructed, provide a focus for training and the storage of weapons and supplies.

The third layer is the patrol and presence operations spreading out from the Military Region Headquarters. The priority for developing this layer wase first in the border areas with the tasking of battalions. Extension of this approach to coastal regions would follow. Their include: responsibility for providing a presence in the community to support stability and development; responsibility for the collection of intelligence on potential security challenges; initial responsibility for crisis response operations; operating cooperatively with other government agencies charged with the control of movement; and the regulation of specific activities on behalf of the Royal Government.

The downsizing of the force must be matched by a clear vision of the more streamlined and effective organization that is to replace it. The cornerstone of the future RCAF will be robust command, control and communications arrangements. The unified direction and control provided by the High Command Headquarters will be complemented by more effective Military Region Headquarters. These will have the primary responsibility for defense activities in their areas, carrying out the directions of the High Command Headquarters and providing that headquarters with a detailed understanding of security developments.

The chain of command will be simplified between High Command Headquarters, Military Region Headquarters and units. The introduction of reliable and secure communications between the High Command Headquarters and the military regions is an important priority. It will provide intelligence on developments of national concern, support timely response operations (including in the event of natural disasters), and be available to support wider government initiatives and communication with the people.





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