Cambodia Table of Contents
The Kampuchean (or Khmer) People's Revolutionary Armed Forces (KPRAF) constituted the regular forces of the pro-Hanoi People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK). Soon after the downfall of the Khmer Rouge, two reasons for the necessity of such forces became apparent to the PRK's Vietnamese mentors when they installed the new Cambodian government in early 1979. First, if the new administration in Phnom Penh was to project internationally the image of being a legitimate sovereign state, it would need a national army of its own apart from the Vietnamese forces. Second, if the Vietnamese army was not to have to shoulder indefinitely its internal security mission in Cambodia, it would need to develop a Khmer military force that could be put in place as a surrogate for Vietnamese troops. Raising such an indigenous force presented no insurmountable obstacle for Hanoi at the time because several precedents already had been established. In Laos, the Vietnamese armed forces maintained a close training and coordinating relationship with their Laotian counterparts as a result of Hanoi's military presence in the country. In Cambodia, Vietnam had been a mainstay for Khmer communist factions since 1954. The Vietnamese army also had helped train Pol Pot's RAK and its successor, the CPNLAF, following the coup that deposed Sihanouk in 1970. More recently, Hanoi had helped raise and train a few, probably battalion-sized, regiments of Khmer troops that had fought alongside the Vietnamese during the invasion of Cambodia. With further Vietnamese tutelage, these Khmer units became the nucleus of a national army. From such ad hoc beginnings, the KPRAF grew as a military force and eventually gained its position as an instrument of both the party and the state. This development, however, was carefully shielded from the scrutiny of outsiders, and much that could be concluded about the armed forces of the PRK was based on analysis rather than incontrovertible hard data.
Data as of December 1987