Reshuffle Likely as Commanders Meet in Naypyidaw
covering burma and southeast asia
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Reshuffle Likely as Commanders Meet in Naypyidaw

By WAI MOE Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In this photo taken on Aug. 22, the military representatives attend the parliamentary session at the Lower House in Naypyidaw. (Photo: AP)

As commanders of Burma's Tatmadaw, or armed forces, gather in Naypyidaw this week, observers say a reshuffle of top military positions and preparations for dry season operations in the country's restive north will likely be high on the agenda.

Burmese military sources said regional commanders, light infantry division commanders, regional operations commanders and military operations commanders are in the capital for their second triannual meeting since the new “civilian” government of President Thein Sein was sworn in and Gen Min Aung Hlaing was named commander in chief in March.

The sources said informal meetings were held on Saturday and Sunday, but Lt-Gen Aung Than Htut, the chief of the Bureau of Special Operations (BSO) 2, which oversees the North-East Regional, Eastern and Triangle Military Commands (RMCs), did not attend because of a recent intensification of fighting with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in northern Shan State.

Ahead of the commanders meeting in Naypyidaw, military sources said three regional commanders were tipped for promotion to BSO chiefs. They are Maj-Gen Zayar Aung, commander of the Northern RMC in Myitkyina, Maj-Gen Aung Kyaw Zaw, commander of the Northeast RMC in Lashio, and Maj-Gen Soe Htut, commander of the Eastern RMC.

Brig-Gen Nyo Saw, the commandant of the Defense Services Academy, and Brig-Gen Ko Ko Naing, the commandant of the Defense Services Medical Academy, were also tipped to be promoted as regional commanders for the Southern and Northern RMCs, respectively.

Some commanders, such as Brig-Gen Tun Than, the former Rangoon regional military commander, and Maj-Gen Tin Ngwe, chief of BSO-5, were forced to resign in the past two months after the last four-monthly meeting in May.

“Some military leaders will swap positions and some vacancies will be filled by promotions,” said Aung Lynn Htut, a former counterintelligence officer who observes Burmese military affairs from Washington.

Another item likely to be high on the agenda of the commanders meeting is the ongoing armed conflicts in northern and eastern Burma, where government troops are fighting the KIA, the Shan State Army and the Karen National Union.

“We expect they will discuss armed conflicts with ethnic groups, including the KIA, at the coming meeting,” said a KIA officer at the War Office in the group's headquarters of Laiza, speaking on condition of anonymity. He added that the Northern RMC in Myitkyina is scheduled to submit a report about the conflict with the KIA.

“We heard Lt-Gen Soe Win [the deputy commander in chief of the armed forces and the commander in chief of the army] came to Myitkyina and even oversaw the report on the conflict, since he is the former commander of the Northern RMC,” he added.'

An executive officer of an NGO in Rangoon who is close to military commanders said that the coming dry season, when most major offensives are usually launched, will be “number one on the agenda.”

Another issue that is likely to be discussed at the meeting is the Tatmadaw's plans to create a new RMC based in Tanaing, near the border with India, a move that has been planned since late last year. Another new RMC proposed at the same time, the Middle-East Regional Military Command in Shan State, is already in operation.

The purpose of the new regional command in Tanaing, in western Kachin State, could be to strategically divide KIA troops from the east to the west, said Aung Lynn Htut.

Although there are currently Burmese troops stationed in the area, KIA Brigade 3 is also active there. In 1988, KIA troops seized the government military post in Tanaing.

According to military sources, Soe Win was in Tanaing earlier this month to check the location ahead of this week's meeting of Tatmadaw commanders.

There is also speculation that the creation of the new RMC could be aimed at countering Indian insurgent groups based along the Indo-Burmese border, as part of an agreement between the Burmese and Indian armies.

However, some observers saw this as unlikely. “I don't think the purpose is to counter Indian insurgents. The Burmese military and Indian insurgent groups have good secret relations. The Burmese won't fight the Naga, who provide a buffer between India and Burma,” said Aung Lynn Htut.

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Oo Maung gyi Wrote:
Tatmadaw should not participate in politics for the sake of the country development. Once Tatmadaw takes part in politics, bibery and corruption is very high in the administration, because of Tatmadaw does not know how to handle civil affairs. Fo the good sake let Tatmadaw stay in the defense of the country with great honour. Since March, 1962 Burma name is spoiled in the field of international community due to militay coup, please take as a great lesson.

Native son Wrote:
All ethnic minority and brothers, it is time to wake up. Don't be misled by the false security. You will be the next target after the Kachins fall. Israel never waited for the Arabs to swallow them up.

Myanmar Patriots Wrote:
Oliver Cromwell's new model army was not elected!

In certain situation military is the 'state'.
It is treason to suggest that there is civil war in Burma. Only opportunistic rebellion on the platform of Panglong.

To defend sovereignty of Burma, all rebellions must be quelled. No alien intervention!

Just adhere to civilised fighting.

Opportunity for negotiated settlement must not be exhausted.

Time for roundtable talk.

Marty Myanmar Wrote:
The discussion put forward by the army officers in the parliament was about 'the Myanmar language'.

I would expect proposals about national security issues, the fighting ability of the troops, discussions of potential threats from abroad and condemnation of local armed groups. Issues like should be put forwards by these representatives.

The ministry of Culture and Education should be arguing about the terminology in the languages and the spelling/grammar, not mighty officers of the armed forces!

Oo Maung gyi Wrote:
If Tatmaday is real son of the country it should avoid paticipation of politics. It also should not interfear in political field then on ly can become good Tatmadawand son of the peoples.
If army personal wants to involve in politics the only way is to resign from army post and join any political parties, then only can call him patriotic.
Present norminal government should establish
and show to examplify for the future generation of Burma. Enough is enough.

Myint Wrote:
I don't think we should give credence to Aung Lyn Htut cooment as he was the same old folk from the regime who is now fighting against KIA. Aung Lyn Htut just turned himself to US authorities because he have nowhere to go after his boss Khin Nyunt was arrested in Oct 2004. If Khin Nyunt was in power today, do you think Aung Lyn Htut will be commenting now on the ongoing conflict in Kachin militarily in public?

Anyway, the civil war in Burma deserved intervention from UN and US as in Libya and Arab Spring nations' revolutions.

Mualcin Wrote:
The above picture tells the world that democracy in Burma is just a fake one. Soldiers have no place in Hlutdaws.

Soe Thane Wrote:
Aung Lynn Htut "observes Burmese military affairs from Washington".

That's like saying someone is "observing US presidential politics from Mandalay".

Not likely to get it right.

Mualcin Wrote:
If Thein Sein intensifies attack on Kachins, we all need to attack Nay Pyi Daw with any means. And we the people need to join the Kachins because it is not for the Kachins alone but for the national cause which is for genuine democracy.

Marty Myanmar Wrote:
40%+ of the GDP, Billions of $ go into the military to buy weapons, upgrade everything, fancy shiny fighter jets from Russia and they still get theirs asses kicked. Either the guys in the north are Rambos or someone is afraid of dying before getting rich.

kerry Wrote:
The army in Burma still don't understand that they are not elected and in charge, they did not inherit a country. They are a transitional occupiers. They have no rights to kill, command, fight, dispossess, rape, exploit.

These guys have lost the plot, even as the whole world is trying to help them find it.

This language ('commanders' 'insurgents' 'offensives' 'promotion' 'intensification' etc etc) is not that of a nation: especially one seeking international rights, privileges and legitimacy. This is just a military boys club, excuse for further murders, a weird anachronism from another era.

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