Brigadier-General Fernandez, the commander of Cambodian military operations south of Phnom Penh, has little more than outdated weapons and few supplies with which to defend the capital.
Brigadier-General Fernandez, the commander of Cambodian military operations south of Phnom Penh, has little more than outdated weapons and few supplies with which to defend the capital. Although spokesman have said no attacks on Phnom Penh are expected, Viet Cong units have clashed with Cambodian troops only four miles (7 kms) north of the capital. Government spokesmen say the actions were normal reconnaissance patrols and represented no threat.
General Fernandez had never had to fight a war; even had he the experience, however he would find combat difficult with the resources at his command.
General Fernandez has his headquarters at Kampong Speu, 25 miles (40 kms) southwest of Phnom Penh. It is defended primarily by a cannon, originally from the People's Republic of China, which was meant to be used as an anti-aircraft gun. Other weapons of similar origin will eventually be useless when the ammunition runs out -- there is none to replace it.
News of dwindling ammunition supplies comes in by radio -- one of the few available. Field communications are almost non-existent in the General's command.
General Fernandez will not tell how many men he has in his command; he says the number is classified. It was reported however, that given the disorganisation in the Cambodian Army and the lack of communications, he may not know the exact figure.
His solution is large amounts of American aid. He wants guns, ammunition, air strikes and even helicopters. He has said he does not want American ground troops, although he feels some advisors to train Cambodian troops would be helpful.