I hope everyone enjoyed the Khmer New Year holiday and that your “Year of the Horse” is off to a great start. As for the Embassy, we kicked off the New Year with our annual Angkor Sentinel exercise. Now in its fifth year, Angkor Sentinel brings together U.S. and Cambodian armed forces to hone their humanitarian assistance and disaster relief skills for use in the event of a natural disaster or other type of humanitarian crisis. Through battalion staff training, engineering exchanges, medical training, and peacekeeping preparation activities, Angkor Sentinel has evolved into a major security cooperation activity that has strengthened the bonds of friendship and collaboration among our military personnel that will contribute to a coordinated response to regional emergencies when they arise.
Angkor Sentinel began on Monday, a sweltering day, at the Training Center for Multinational Peacekeeping Forces in Kampong Speu province. During the opening ceremony, U.S. Army Pacific Representative Brigadier General John Goodale and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Representative Lieutenant General Hun Manet addressed the nearly 1,000 participating U.S. and Cambodian soldiers, emphasizing the value of learning from each other and using those lessons to help others around the world. Throughout the exercise, both Cambodian and U.S. soldiers are learning valuable tactics, techniques, and procedures that will enable them to respond effectively and efficiently to man-made and natural disasters that they may face at home, regionally, and in UN peacekeeping missions around the world.
In what has become an Angkor Sentinel tradition, U.S. and Cambodian soldiers also participated in a blood drive to help improve the level of Cambodia’s blood bank supply. In the spirit of humanitarian leadership, Generals Manet and Goodale were the first donors to give blood, with nearly 110 U.S. and Cambodian soldiers joining in the drive. A blood donation truly is a “gift of life,” and I am very proud that Angkor Sentinel’s blood drive will help to save the lives of sick and injured Cambodians, while also bringing our two nations closer together.
I would like to thank the members of the Idaho Army National Guard and the Royal Cambodian Army for their participation in Angkor Sentinel and for demonstrating such a strong commitment to learning from one another. In an ever connected world, the ability to work together collaboratively and effectively can make a crucial difference during times of crisis, so I look forward to seeing the U.S.-Cambodia military relationship continue to strengthen in the years ahead.
How else can we strengthen U.S.-Cambodia cooperation in times of natural disaster in the region? What would encourage more people to donate blood in Cambodia?