Cambodia

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Kingdom of Cambodia

The present Kingdom of Cambodia was once part of French Indochina, administered as a colonial possession between 1863 and 1953, when the nation was granted independence. The country was governed as a monarchy until 1970, when a US-backed coup d'etat under Lon Nol wrested power from the royalists. During the Vietnam War, Cambodia was subject to a bombing campaign waged by the United States as part of an effort to curtail its use as a refuge by the Viet Cong. In 1975, the communist Khmer Rouge took power and changed the name of the nation to Democratic Kampuchea, embarking on a reign of terror against the educated and pro-Western members of Cambodian society in which over one million people died. Vietnam invaded the country in 1978, ousting the Khmer Rouge government but setting up a pro-Soviet state in its place, the People's Republic of Kampuchea. Yet the country was wracked by conflict between the government, pro-democracy and pro-monarchy movements, and Khmer Rouge forces until 1991, when a peace settlement was reached (Paris Peace Accords), and the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) eastablished. The monarchy was restored in 1993, with the country retaking its original name and flag.

Under French administration the Forces Armees Royales Khmere (FARK) were outfitted as were French troops of the period, with airborne and commando units receiving the lizard pattern tenue de saut camouflée. These remained in service with Cambodian units until around 1970, when the armed forces were renamed Forces Armées Nationales Khmeres (FANK). Several other camouflage patterns were in use among Cambodian forces during the Vietnam War, including some produced in South Vietnam and others unique to Cambodian units. The National Army of Democratic Kampuchea (NADK) did not issue camouflage uniforms to any of its personnel; however, the pro-democracy Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPNLF) which waged an insurgency campaign against both the Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese communist governments, were supplied with Thai made camouflage uniforms and military equipment.

The standard uniform of the Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Armed Forces (KPRAF) remained khaki or olive green, but in the late 1980s the 911 Special Forces Regiment did begin wearing camouflage uniforms. Having been trained in Indonesia, they have often been issued uniforms of Indonesian origins.

The Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) was created in 1993 by the merger of the Cambodian People's Armed Forces and two anti-communist resistance armies, the KPNLAF and the Armées Nationale pour Khmer Independent (ANKI). Since the mid-1990s, the RCAF have participated in some peacekeeping efforts as part of the United Nations. Today, camouflage uniforms are relatively standard issue to most conventional units.

Camouflage Patterns of Cambodia

  • Airborne and commando personnel of the Forces Armees Royales Khmere (FARK) were issued with French tenue de leópard lizard camouflage uniforms, including the TAP Mle 1947/52, TAP Mle 1947/53 and TAP Mle 1947/54.

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  • The Khmer Serei ("Free Khmer") forces were an anti-communist, pro-monarchist guerilla movement, partly financed by the USA and supplied by South Vietnam. Some members of the group are known to have worn the South Vietnamese Police Field Force "clouds" pattern on occasion.

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  • A unique camouflage pattern was worn by the Forces Armees Royales Khmere (FANK) airborne forces from the 1960s to 1975. This spot pattern consisted of olive green & russet blotches on pale green background.

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  • South Vietnamese tiger stripe camouflage patterns were popular with US Army Special Forces, some of whom were operating in Cambodia as advisors to the FANK between 1971 and 1975. In addition, at least two Cambodian tiger stripe patterns have been documented in use between 1973 and 1975. The latter appear to have been locally produced.

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  • The FANK Para-Commando Battalion, trained at the Airborne Commando School at Batu Djadjar in Indonesia in 1975, were issued with the Indonesian Army's Loreng Darah Mangalir ("flowing blood") camouflage pattern.

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  • The Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPNLF) was a political movement formed in 1979 to topple the communist Vietnamese-supported government of the People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK). Its military branch was the Khmer People’s National Liberation Armed Forces (KPNLAF), which obtained much of its military support from Thailand. During the 1980s, members of the KPNLAF were often outfitted in Thai-made tiger stripe pattern camouflage uniforms of various styles.

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  • Another commonly encountered camouflage pattern among the KPNLAF was an ERDL camouflage variant also produced in Thailand.

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  • In the mid-1980s, a green woodland camouflage pattern was produced in Thailand specifically for the KPNLAF.

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  • The Cambodian Army 911 Special Forces Regiment has continued to receive most of its training at the Indonesian Airborne Commando school. As a result, Indonesian DPM camouflage uniforms have been extremely common among members of the Regiment since originally adopted in the mid-1980s.

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  • Another camouflage pattern seen sporadically among the members of 911 SF Regiment (as well as some regular Army personnel) is a commercial pattern called "Green Leaf." Similar to a number of commercial hunting patterns, the design features green & brown foliage shapes on a khaki background and was first documented in the late 1980s.

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  • Since the restoration fo the monarchy and the establishment of relative stability to Cambodia, the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) have begin participating in international peacekeeping efforts. Personnel on such deployments generally wear camouflage uniforms of two types, both locally-made copies of DPM.

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  • Some units of the RCAF also wear a copy of the US m81 woodland camouflage pattern.

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  • Some Cambodian military personnel now wear the US tricolor desert camouflage pattern - namely, the Navy's 31st (Marine) Brigade, which has been trained by elements of the USMC.

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  • Using fabric imported from China, locally-produced uniforms in the pattern seen below have been worn by the Cambodian Prime Minister's Bodyguard and members of the 911 Special Forces Regiment.

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  • Recently, the 911 Special Forces Regiment adopted a pixelated version of the old Indonesian Special Forces vertical stripe pattern, seen here.

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