Military police were in action in the streets of Phnom Penh, capital of the Khmer Republic, over the week-end (July 28th and 29th), rounding up truckloads of men between the ages of 18 and 35 for conscription into the army.
Military police were in action in the streets of Phnom Penh, capital of the Khmer Republic, over the week-end (July 28th and 29th), rounding up truckloads of men between the ages of 18 and 35 for conscription into the army. It was reported that about a thousand volunteers were recruited and about 2,500 men were drafted. The aim of the recently introduced conscription law is to double the army's strength from its present level of 150,000 men. Although some of the conscripts seemed very unwilling to join up, the military command is determined to form more units so as to dislodge communist forces who are closing in on the capital. Training programmes were also in progress.
At the same time some army units left the city to try and reopen Highway 21 which has been in communist hands for some time. Almost all routes to the city except Highway 4, have been cut off, and communist insurgents have been reported within two miles of the capital's northern perimeter. The city lives in daily expectation of a full-scale communist assault.
SYNOPSIS: Truckloads of men between the ages of 18 and 35 were being rounded up in the streets of Phnom Penh last week-end for conscription into the armed forces.
It was reported that about a thousand volunteers were recruited and about two and a half thousand men were drafted. Many more men are needed to check the advance of Communist Troops on the capital.
Conscription has only recently been introduced, and is now being rigorously enforced in an attempt to double the army's strength from its present level of around a hundred and fifty thousand men.
The conscripts have been undergoing crash training programmes. Military training sessions are a common sight in the capital now, since there is a daily expectation of a full-scale communist assault on the city. The population has been urged to form itself into home-guard and militia units. Vigilance warnings against communist infiltrators have also been issued.
At the moment the Khmer government's main aim is to recapture the supply routes to the capital which are almost entirely in communist hands. The city could fall without a full-scale assault if it was completely cut off. The city is ringed by an estimated twenty thousand communist troops and they have advanced to within two miles of its northern perimeter. Tension has mounted following a recent rocket attack which killed twenty in the city centre.
Increasingly vigorous action by the Khmer forces is required because all U.S. Military aid ends on August the fifteenth.