Is Burma looking for a new Army Chief?
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Is Burma looking for a new Army Chief?


By The Irrawaddy JANUARY, 2007 - VOLUME 15 NO.1


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(Page 2 of 4)

How did he get his plum assignment in the defense ministry?

Burma’s senior military leadership is always o­n the lookout for young guns to fill important—or strategic—ministry posts. Candidates are generally former field commanders with frontline experience, like Shwe Mann, who also took the important step of continuing his studies at the National Defense Institute. They are also appointed as much for their loyalties to senior officials as their credentials.

Shwe Mann was transferred to the defense ministry in 2001, where he assumed the prestigious position of joint chief of staff, which gave him oversight of all commanders from the army, navy and air force. The following year, he was awarded the newly minted position of Tatmadaw Nyi Hnying Kutkae Yay Hmu, which gave him oversight of Burma’s five bureaus of special operations as well.

By 2003, Shwe Mann had reached the rank of general, though little has been heard from or about him in Burma’s official press since his attachment to the defense ministry. Observers continue to speculate about how much real authority he has. His post at the defense ministry puts him in command of officials at Burma’s BSOs who are more senior to him. Whether he has any say in decision-making, or whether his role is to rubber-stamp commands from above is unknown.

What does the military rank-and-file think of him?

Shwe Mann seems to have earned considerable respect among Burma’s foot soldiers, particularly those who served directly under his command.



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