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Defending The Nation (Cambodia) – Part II: The (Probable) Battle Plan November 6, 2008

Posted by chandrapong007 in Cambodia, National Security, Politics.

Dear Fellow Khmers,


The volatile political environment in Thailand continues to put pressure on the border issues, and Cambodia has a legitimate concern that Thai ultra nationalists may attempt to exploit such volatility to stage a major cross-border military offensive. After all, this is how the current border standoff got started in the first place.

Despite of recent public announcement by both Cambodia and Thailand on their commitment to peaceful solution on the border issues, the military situation on the ground remains tense. Both sides have troops entrenched in and on high alert a few hundred meters from each others. It is inherently dangerous. Accident poises to happen and any misunderstanding could ignite the gunfight.

In part I of Defending the Nation entitled Threat Assessment, National Defence Association (NDA) exposed Thai military structure, strength and arsenal. In this part, NDA will highlight its view or anticipation of a possible battle plan being drawn up by Thai generals, and recommends some counter measures.

It is unusual to openly discuss potential military plan or preparation in public place. Nonetheless, NDA is taking this unusual step in order to inform our population, soldiers, military planners and government of how it thinks the Preah Vihear Battle is likely to be fought by the Thai side should the war breaks out. NDA exercises utmost diligent in its writing and is well aware that this article can fall into the enemy hands. Rest assured that the information presented here has been carefully screened so that it will only benefit our nation. It will not put our troops in any harm way, and the enemy will not gain anything valuable out of this article.

Analyzing the current Thai political context, military structure, arsenal, training and war experience, there is a high degree of certainty that the Royal Thai Armed Forces (RTA) will fight the Western-style battle with a two-phase-strategy. From the Thai perspective, this is not an invasion for occupying the whole country or for toppling the Cambodian government, but a quick and muscular military offensive specifically set out to humiliate, weaken and demoralize the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, and to ultimately occupy all disputed areas by forces.

To achieve the objective of the first phase, the RTA will likely mobilize a significant number of regular ground troops and call up on its air force to launch a swift offensive, expecting to defeat and inflict severe damages and casualties on Cambodian troops. Once it believes it has achieved that objective, the RTA will promptly redeploy its regular ground troops to mislead the international communities, while covertly sending in its paramilitary units (rangers) to establish military outposts on our soils, occupy our temples, and to assail or/and evict our local population from their villages.

Our best defense in such scenario is not to fight their battle but to make them fight our battle. By not fighting their battle, we have effectively deny them their firepower and air superiority. We must avoid concentrating our troops to resist their major offensive, but prepare to make tactical retreats and regroup for counter-offensives. What the Thai generals really want is for us to commit a large number of troops and materials to resist their direct assault so that they can use their firepower and logistical advantages to slaughter our troops.


Tactically, it is pointless to pay a heavy price in terms of troops and materials for defending a particular position or line along the border areas. Let the enemy troops move in, and then ambush them with coordinated counter-offensives based on pre-established plans to inflict heavy casualties on their ground troops.


Our troops must remain light and highly mobile, and be prepared to operate behind the enemy line. This is our major strength as most of our troops have the ultimate knowledge of the terrain and were grown up with the way-of-life in the jungle. To ensure that our troops can effectively operate behind the enemy line, we must hide critical supplies (non-perishable food, medicines and ammunitions) in sufficient quantities at key strategic locations.


Any major offensive by the RTA will certainly be supported by heavy artillery shelling and low-altitude air strikes. Similarly, any RTA rapid troop movement or reinforcement during our counter-attacks will be done through airlift (helicopters). It is urgent for the government to equip our troops with more portable shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles (SAM) to counter low-altitude air threat. A few well known portable SAMs are FIM-92 Stinger made by US, Igla-S made by Russia, QianWei-1 exported by China, and Anza-MKII produced by Pakistan. During the Soviet occupation war in the 1980s, the Afghan Mujahadeens had used the Stinger to destroy numerous Soviet helicopter gunships, and effectively changed the tide of the war in their favor.


Radio communications are one of the key elements for coordinated attacks, but it has inherent vulnerability that will be exploited by the enemy. We must increase awareness among our soldiers on modern warfare capabilities, especially in the areas of Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and Counter-Measures (ECM). The RTA has significantly invested in its Command, Control and Communications (C3) systems and is deploying such systems to disrupt or/and intercept our radio communications. Our soldiers must be trained how to react to mitigate the impact of enemy jamming and eavesdropping.


Orders should be issued to all combat units to maintain strict radio silence and to only talk over the radios when it is absolutely necessary. Every soldier must clearly understand that every time he talks over the radio (or cell phone), there is a great risk that the enemy will either intercept the message or/and pinpoint our tactical positions. Do not use plain language, use coded words or messages instead. Learn to recognize each other voice over the radios. Ask the caller to verbally authenticate to prevent the enemy impersonating our troops. Do not use the same passwords for each authentication. Do not blindly trust or rely on the radio built-in encryption features. They are likely to be known and already broken by the enemy.


Our troops have years of field experiences in fighting guerillas or insurgency battles. But facing the new threats, weapons and technology, they need to be trained to have adequate understanding of modern warfare tactics and capabilities. There are new generation of expatriate Khmers who have trained and served with Western armed forces. They are well verse with modern weaponry and special ops, and ready to counsel our troops at home. Together, we can blend our traditional and modern fighting skills and knowledge to yield a formidable fighting force.


NDA strongly advocates and hopes for a peaceful settlement on the border issues, but fears that such resolution is virtually unattainable as the current Thai negotiators unreasonably insist to negotiate on a map that their country has unilaterally drawn. Should a military confrontation become unavoidable, NDA is confident that our nation has the will, the strength and the necessary mean to defend itself unassisted. We will prevail in the present or future armed conflict, provided that we are all united, and remain utmost prudent in our strategy and preparations, not to overlook details that could be exploited by the enemy during the battles.


Yours truly,

Davan Long (NDA)

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