SOG Airmen support training in Cambodia

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Aaron Cram
  • 353rd Special Operations Group
Members of the 353rd Special Operations Group recently deployed here in January and February for combined training between U.S. and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Special Forces soldiers and marked several significant events along the way.

While supporting the five-week training between U.S. Army Special Forces and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces National Counter-Terrorism Special Forces, the Air Commandos of the Pacific were able to fly the first day and night low-level flights in Cambodia since the Vietnam War and conduct the first-ever combined airdrops between U.S. and Cambodian forces. The airdrops were also the first-ever airdrops for the RCAF National Counter-Terrorism Special Forces soldiers.

"Anytime your team gets a chance to be a part of a historic event it makes you proud," said Col. Robert Toth, the 353rd SOG commander. "But what really makes me appreciate our time here is the superior performance of members from all five of the group's squadrons. Together with our U.S. Army Special Forces counterparts, we not only built partner nation SOF capacity, we also forged strong relationships with our Royal Cambodian Armed Forces counterparts, and this is a truly rewarding experience."

U.S. Army Special Forces spent five weeks training the fledgling RCAF National Counter-Terrorism Special Forces in many areas including close-quarters combat, planning and executing rescue missions for victims in hostile areas and explosive ordnance disposal.
The combined exercise officially closed with a ceremony honoring the training participants and U.S. and RCAF officials noting the importance of combined training.

"I have been advised that all of you have worked hard over the last five weeks and the members of the NCTSF have risen to the challenge the trainers have presented," said Carol Rodley, the U.S. ambassador to Cambodia. "You should all be proud of what you have achieved here. I know the skills you have gained will serve you and your country well in the future. All of these skills are critical to your roles as the top counter-terrorism force in Cambodia. I know the trainers who received instruction will pass on these skills to the coming generations of NCTSF staff."

"Our mission is to respond and to counter terrorism," said Brig. Gen. Hun Manet, Royal Cambodian Armed Forces National Counter-Terrorism Special Forces commander. "To accomplish our mission, this unit must carry out its plan to build its capabilities through training programs. The U.S. is one of the countries that play a very important role in helping us build our capacities. The closing ceremony is to highlight the achievement of completing the training course with the support of the U.S. government. We are deeply grateful the U.S government supports our training with materials and excellent instructors. On behalf of all of the NCTSF members, I say thank you and I know our relationship is vital to achieve success for our nations."

The U.S. ambassador also pointed to the continuation of U.S. and Cambodian military relations.

"The end of the training mission is not the end of our interaction with the NCTSF or the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces as a whole," Ms. Rodley said. "I have been very pleased to see the growth of our military to military relationship over the past few years. These missions reflect a long-term commitment to the continued development and professionalization of Cambodia's military and we hope to see many more training missions like this in the future."