The United States and Cambodia began their annual bilateral military exercises this week.
Forces from the two countries officially kicked off Angkor Sentinel 2016 in a March 14 ceremony at the Training School for Multinational Peacekeeping Forces in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province. The annual bilateral exercise, now in its seventh iteration, is hosted by the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and sponsored by the U.S. Army Pacific.
According to a statement by Julie Chung, charge d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh, Angkor Sentinel 2016, characterized as a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) focused exercise, includes training and exchanges covering humanitarian assistance, disaster response, first aid, engineering, explosive ordnance disposal, transporting people and supplies, and developing leaders.
The two-week bilateral exercise involves Cambodian forces from the Royal Cambodian Army, the National Center for Peacekeeping Forces, Mine and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance, and Gendarmerie Royale Khmer, as well as U.S. forces from U.S. Army Pacific, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, 130th Theater Engineer Brigade, 8th Military Police Brigade, 303rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion, the Idaho Army National Guard, 18th Medical Command, Asia Pacific Counter-IED Fusion Center, and 413th Contracting Brigade.
Addressing the more than 150 participants at the opening ceremony, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Edward F. Dorman III, the commander of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, emphasized the importance of learning from each other to jointly address future challenges.
“When we join together, train together, and grow together now, we ensure that we are prepared together for whatever the future may bring,” he said.
Angkor Sentinel 2016 is expected to last until March 25.
Later this year, the United States and Cambodia will also hold the Cambodian leg of the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises. CARAT is part of a series of bilateral naval exercises conducted by the U.S. Navy with partners now involving nine countries in South and Southeast Asia – Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Timor-Leste (See: “US Eyes Expanded Military Exercises with ASEAN Navies”).
As I noted in a previous piece on last year’s CARAT exercise in Cambodia, the Royal Cambodian Navy (RCN) is one of the newer CARAT partners in the exercise series, which began back in 1995 (See: “US, Cambodia Navies Launch Joint Military Exercise”).