Vietnam, the 162nd poorest country in the world but with the 5th largest army, will start reducing its military this month beginning with the retirement of more than 3,000 senior officers, a Vietnamese official said.
"We have to reduce, now, and this month more than 70 generals and 3,000 colonels will be retired," said Bui Tin, deputy editor in chief of the Vietnamese Communist Party's official newspaper, Nhan Dan. "Some will be replaced but most of them will simply be retired."Tin said that after Vietnam's National Assembly meets in the last week of June, 40,000 Vietnamese troops are to be withdrawn from Cambodia followed by another 10,000 troops in June.
Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1975, overthrowing the genocidal Khmer Rouge government that is estimated to have killed from one to three million Cambodians. About 120,000 Vietnamese troops bolster the Heng Samrin regime Hanoi installed in Phnom Penh.
Tin, a former army colonel, said retirements would continue to come but at a lesser rate.
"In each unit there are too many deputy officers," he said.
Tin said all the Vietnamese troops remaining in Cambodia could be withdrawn next year - one year earlier than Hanoi's self-imposed deadline of December 1990.
"The government in Phnom Penh is very confident," Tin told United Press International. "They have 40,000-50,000 men in their army, plus their provincial units, and an extensive police force at the grassroots level. They are training very hard."
Tin said returning Vietnamese troops would aggravate his country's deteriorating economic woes. Vietnam suffered 180 percent inflation the first quarter of this year.
"The economic situation is very, very bad," Tin said. "Management and agriculture has improved, some provinces and corporations have improved, but in general the situation is very difficult."
"There is disillusionment among the youth because we have a high unemployment rate," Tin said. "We have to reduce (the army) this year at a high rate therefore the number of jobless will increase."