Senior Cambodian Military Officer In Hawaii’s Anti-Terrorism Meet Signals Change In Government Focus


Published on 9 April, The Phnom Penh Post reported that Lieutenant General Hun Manet, the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed forces, was to visit the U.S. from 8-12 April to attend the Pacific Area Special Operation Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. U.S. embassy spokesperson Emily Zeeberg confirmed on Monday that Hun Manet was to participate in a “brief, technical-level, multilateral conference focused on counter-terrorism.” The report states that he was invited in his capacity as Commander of the National Counter-Terrorism Special Forces (NCTSF), as one of around 36 commanders of counter-terrorism units from Indo-Pacific nations. In early February, Khmer Times stated that Cambodia vowed to improve collaboration with regional partners to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation, according to a senior government official. The pledge was made during a two-day ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) that kicked off on Monday in Singapore, where the ministers focused on terrorism and other regional security issues. The article continues that Cambodian Defence Minister General Tea Banh warned that peace in the region was now under threat from the challenges of terrorism, natural disasters and climate change.

According to the Chief of Defense Cooperation invitation letter, he stated on behalf of the Commander of United States Special Operation Command Pacific that it would be a pleasure “extending an invitation for LTG Hun Manet, Commander of National Counter-Terrorism Special Force to attend the Pacific Area Special Operations Conference (PASOC) in Honolulu, Hawaii, from 8-12 April 2019.”

The invitation prompts the strengthening of government authorities on counter-terrorism, and it provides some advantages to the people. Firstly, since Cambodia has rarely faced major attacks by terrorists, the task raises awareness on the issue and provides an early alarm to the people so they can be equipped with safety and security procedures and practices for if an act of terrorism occurs. Secondly, the government would be able to develop methods using recent technologies and innovations to reach out to more people. Thirdly, the timing allows the matter to be taken into a prudent consideration, which enables the administration to achieve an ethical, efficient and effective approach to educating the public on how to operate in such a situation.

Although Cambodia has had a few terrorist attacks, the national government can raise better public awareness about the matter through television news, public billboards and educational institutions.