Burma Upgrades Military

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Burma Upgrades Military

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:47 am

Burma Upgrades Military with NKorean Advice

By WAI MOE

With the input of North Korean advisers, the Burmese military junta has modernized its Tatmadaw (armed forces) by upgrading its strategic motor vehicle forces, forming a Missile Force and improving the operation of the people's militias operating under its People's War Strategy, according to information leaked by military sources to The Irrawaddy.

The junta's objective is better mobilization of light infantry troops and other lines of strategic defense such as artillery forces, air defense forces and missile forces, a source said.

“Like the the North Korean army, the junta wants the ability to deploy its forces, including multiple launch rocket systems, canons and air defense units, quickly to the front line. Then all would be re-deployed to bases in tunnels and caves,” said the source. “That's why the junta is upgrading its vehicle depot forces.”

Sources said the junta upgraded its Motor Vehicle Depot Battalions in October 2009 to achieve the ability to rapidly deploy troops. The upgraded vehicle battalions are reportedly based in Shwe Taung in Pegu Division, Shwe Nyaung in southern Shan State, Taung Dwin Gyi in Magwe Division, Amarpura in Mandalay Division and Mingaladon in Rangoon Division.

The recent information from military sources provides more evidence of ties between Naypyidaw and Pyongyang, adding to that already available after a report was leaked in 2009 about a 2008 memorandum of understanding between the Tatmadaw and the Korean People’s Army covering joint military exercises and North Korean assistance in military training, air defense and constructing underground facilities and arms shelters.

The Burmese junta is tapping the North Koreans for more than just advice. They are also allegedly importing nuclear technology and strategic weapons such as anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, surface-to-surface missiles and multiple launch rocket systems for the Tatmadaw's Air Defense and Missile forces.

According to a security Web site, GlobalSecurity.org, North Korean 107 mm, 122 mm and 240 mm rocket launchers can fire a first strike of many thousands of missiles and return in a few minutes to protected caves or to alternate firing positions, using “exit and return” methods.

Protecting Burma’s coastline is a key element of the junta's defense strategy, and artillery bases, missile bases and air defense bases are reportedly deployed on major islands such as Kyaukpyu, Hainngyi, Kalagote, Lampi and Katangyi.

Sources said Burma’s Air Defense Force is armed with four types of weapons: 14.5 mm anti- aircraft heavy machine guns, 40 mm auto canons, man-pad heat seeking guided missiles such as the Chinese-made SAM-7 and the UK-made Blowpipe, and other SAM missiles from China, Russia and the Ukraine.

In addition, its Air Defense Signals Battalion is equipped with Australian and Russian equipment, its Air Defense Warning Battalion is equipped with Russian and Ukrainian radars and its Air Defense Electronic Warfare battalion is equipped with Russian equipment.

Military sources said Burma’s Air Defense Force and Missile Force have adopted three main tactics for the defense of the country's interior.

The first tactic is “early recon and warning” supported by a Russian radar system with a 200-mile range.

The second tactic is “defense and interception” to protect air bases, artillery operation command headquarters, regional military command headquarters and light infantry division headquarters.

The third tactic is “defense and assault” to control areas where the enemy’s airborne troops could land, including heavy and ordinary defense industry compounds, military headquarters and major cities.

With respect to the “assault” element of this tactic, the Burmese military plans to repel potential threats by deploying its artillery forces, tank/armored forces and missile forces to strategic areas where enemy troops could land by air, including the Pegu-Intakaw plains, the Magwe-Taungdwingyi plains, the Meikhtila- Pyawbwe plains, the Mandalay plains, the Myitkyina-Bhamo plains, the Monywa plains and the Pakokku plains.

The Tatamadaw is also using North Korean advice to upgrade its people’s militias in accordance with the regime's “People's War Strategy.” Since September 2006, all regional military commands have a general staff officer-1(G-1) shaping the People War Strategy for their region, sources said.

The People's War Strategy includes counter-insurgency forces, the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA)—a junta-backed mass organization which claims about 24 million member that is reportedly being transformed into the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the National Force Corps of the Swann Arr Shin, the Myanmar Red Cross Society, the Myanmar Fire Brigade and other government civic organizations such as the Myanmar Women's Affairs Federation.

“Particularly following the September 2007 demonstrations, even members of the Women’s Affairs Federation, as well as women family members of police and soldiers, have been given basic military training,” said a military source who leaked information to The Irrawaddy. “The People's War Strategy was adopted by the Tatmadaw in 1970, but they have upgraded the strategy since 2006 with North Korean advice—now members of the people's militias serve as reserve military units.”

According to security analysts, in North Korea there are about 7 million men and women serving in similar people’s militias that make up reserve military units divided into three categories: the Reserve Military Training unit, with 1.7 million persons comprised of men between the ages of 17 and 45 and unmarried women between 17 and 30; the Worker-Peasant Militia unit, with 4.1 million persons comprised of older men between the ages of 45 and 60, young men between 17 and 45 and unmarried women between 17 and 30; and the Young Red Guards, with 1.2 million high school students between the ages of 14 and 16.

In his book Building the Tatmadaw, Burmese military expert Maung Aung Myoe said the mission of the people's militias in Burma is to prepare a total people’s defense, and the goal of fulfilling this mission assures the political role of the Tatmadaw in the future state structure. The people’s militias training includes operating anti-aircraft guns and artillery, he said.

In addition, Maung Aung Myoe pointed out that the Burmese military’s tunnel warfare strategy is also part of the People's War Strategy. “While learning about the RMA (Revolution in Military Affairs) and its impact, the Tatmadaw is taking the necessary measures to prepare for the people’s war,” he wrote.

Many have estimated that the Tatamdaw currently has about 490,000 troops, but military sources told The Irrawaddy that its current military strength is about 368,500 troops, with an estimated 310,000 serving in the army.


แก้ไขล่าสุดโดย sunny เมื่อ Sat Jul 24, 2010 10:17 am, ทั้งหมด 1 ครั้ง

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Re: Burma Upgrades Military

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:54 am

อ้าว ทหารไทยว่ายังไง

ไหนบอกว่าเราจะต้องสะสมอาวุธให้ทัดเทียมประเทศเพื่อนบ้าน

จริงๆแล้ว รัฐบาลไทยไม่ต้องให้งบทหารมากมายนักหรอก

ไหนๆ ก็เลือกข้างเอียงกะเท่เร่ไปทาง'เมกา

(จนกระทั่งเสธ.ทหารยังพูดเองว่า "เราเป็นเมืองขึ้นของ'เมกา มาตั้งนานแล้ว")

ดูอย่างเกาหลีใต้สิ 'เมกันยังขนอาวุธไปตรึม

ถึงเวลา ถ้าเรายังยันที่จะเป็นฐานให้'เมกา

พวกมันก็ขนมาขึ้นฝั่งให้เอง

อีกอย่างทหารไทยไม่ต้องไปออกรบด้วย

อย่างมากที่ทหารไทยทำได้ก็คงเป็นแค่ "หน่วยส่งเสบียง" เท่านั้นเอง

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Re: Burma Upgrades Military

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Sat Jul 24, 2010 10:37 am

การสู้กันในเชิงกลยุทธ์ หรือ ยุทธวิธี

ระหว่างประเทศมหาอำนาจ('เมกา) กับ ประเทศเล็กๆ(ไทย)

"คนโง่ ไร้สติ ไร้ความคิด" เท่านั้น

ที่คิดว่าเราต้องยอมเป็น "ทาสขี้ตีน" ของพวกมัน แล้วเราจะอยู่รอด

ในขณะที่ "คนฉลาด มีสติ มีความคิด มีไหวพริบ" เท่านั้น

ที่คิดว่าเราจะทำอย่างไรให้การเข้ามาของประเทศมหาอำนาจ

ไม่สามารถทำอะไรได้ หรือทำได้ไม่เต็มที่ตามจุดประสงค์หรือเป้าหมายของพวกมัน

ทั้งนี้ทั้งนั้น สิ่งเดียวที่จะสามารถต้านทาน หรือพยุงชาติไว้ได้

นั่นก็คือ "ชาตินิยม" หรือ ความสามัคคีเป็นหนึ่งเดียวของประชาชนที่มีต่อประเทศชาติ "เป็นสำคัญยิ่ง"

อยากฝากข้อความไว้ให้ "สำนึกและสำเหนียก" กันสักนิด

"น้ำใกล้ ย่อมดับไฟ ได้ทันกว่า น้ำไกล"

หวังว่าคงไม่ยากเกินไปสำหรับสติปัญญาของแต่ละคนที่มี

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Re: Burma Upgrades Military

ตั้งหัวข้อ  333Unit on Sat Jul 24, 2010 11:28 am



36 Chinese-Shenyang F-7 fighter delivery to Burmar(Myanmar)

These new aircraft of the Chinese technology.


According to sources in the international arms market, 36 of Myanmar's F-7 fighters are to be retro-fitted with the Elta EL/M- 2032 air-to-air radar, Rafael Python 3 infrared, short range AAMs, and Litening laser designator pods. The same equipment will also be installed on the two-seater FT-7 fighter trainers. In a related deal, Israel will also sell Myanmar at least one consignment of laser-guided bombs. Since the Elbit contract was won, the air force has acquired at least one more squadron of F-7 and FT-7 aircraft from China, but it is not known whether the Israeli-backed upgrade programme will now be extended to include the additional aircraft. Myanmar's critical shortage of foreign exchange will be a major factor in the SPDC's decision.

The army has also benefited from Myanmar's new closeness to Israel.

As part of the regime's massive military modernisation and expansion programme, considerable effort has been put into upgrading the army's artillery capabilities. In keeping with its practice of never abandoning any equipment of value, the army clearly still aims, as far as possible, to keep older weapons operational. (Pakistan, for example, has recently provided Myanmar with ammunition for its vintage 25 pounder field guns). The older UK, US and Yugoslav guns in the Tatmadaw's [Myanmar Armed Forces] inventory have been supplemented with a range of new towed and self-propelled artillery pieces. Purchased mainly from China, they include 122mm howitzers, anti-tank guns, 57mm Type 80 anti-aircraft guns, 37mm Type 74 anti-aircraft guns and 107mm Type 63 multiple rocket launchers. In a barter deal brokered by China last year, the SPDC has also managed to acquire about 16 130mm artillery pieces from North Korea. Despite all this new firepower, however, the army has still looked to Israel to help equip its new artillery battalions.

Around 1998 Myanmar negotiated the purchase of 16 155mm Soltam towed howitzers, possibly through a third party like Singapore. These guns are believed to be second-hand pieces no longer required by the Israel Defence Force. Last year, ammunition for these guns (including high explosive and white phosphorous rounds) was ordered from Pakistan's government ordnance factories. Before the purchase of these new Chinese and North Korean weapons, Myanmar's largest artillery pieces were 105mm medium guns, provided by the USA almost 40 years ago. Acquiring the Israeli weapons thus marks a major capability leap for Myanmar's army gunners. It is possible that either Israel or Pakistan has provided instructors to help the army learn to use and maintain these new weapons.

Nor has the Myanmar Navy missed out on Israeli assistance. There have been several reports that Israel is playing a crucial role in the construction and fitting out of three new warships, currently being built in Yangon.

Myanmar's military leaders have long wanted to acquire two or three frigates to replace the country's obsolete PCE-827 and Admirable- class corvettes, decommissioned in 1994, and its two 1960s-vintage Nawarat-class corvettes, which have been gradually phased out since 1989. As military ties with China rapidly grew during the 1990s, the SLORC hoped to buy two or three Jiangnan- or even Jianghu-class frigates, but it could not afford even the special 'friendship' prices being asked by Beijing. As a compromise, the SPDC has now purchased three Chinese hulls, and is currently fitting them out as corvettes in Yangon's Sinmalaik shipyard.

According to reliable reports, the three vessels will each be about 75m long and displace about 1,200 tons. Despite a European Community embargo against arms sales to Myanmar, the ships' main guns are being imported (apparently through a third party) from Italy. Based on the information currently available, they are likely to be 76mm OTO Melara Compact guns, weapons which (perhaps coincidentally) have been extensively combat-tested by the Israeli Navy on its Reshef- class fast attack missile patrol boats. The corvettes will probably also be fitted with anti-submarine weapons, but it is not known what, if any, surface-to-surface and SAMs the ships will carry.

Israel's main role in fitting out the three corvettes is apparently to provide their electronics suites. Details of the full contract are not known, but it is expected that each package will include at least a surface-search radar, a fire-control radar, a navigation radar and a hull-mounted sonar.

The first of these warships will probably be commissioned and commence sea trials later this year.

Only sales or a strategic imperative?

While Myanmar remains a pariah state, subject to comprehensive sanctions by the USA and European Community, it is unlikely that Israel will ever admit publicly to having military links with the Tatmadaw. Until it does, the reasons for Israel's secret partnership with the Yangon regime will remain unclear. A number of factors, however, have probably played a part in influencing policy decisions in Tel Aviv.

There is clearly a strong commercial imperative behind some of these ventures. From a regional base in Singapore, with which it shares a very close relationship, Israel has already managed to penetrate the lucrative Chinese arms market. It is now aggressively seeking new targets for sales of weapons and military equipment in the Asia- Pacific. These sales are sometimes supported by offers of technology transfers and specialised advice. This approach has led to fears among some countries that Israel will introduce new military capabilities into the region which could encourage a mini arms race, as others attempt to catch up. The weapon systems being provided to the Myanmar armed forces are not that new, and the Asian economic crisis has dramatically reduced the purchasing power of many regional countries, but Israel's current activities in Myanmar will add to those concerns.

Given the nature of some of these sales, and other probable forms of military assistance to Myanmar, these initiatives would appear to enjoy the strong support of the Israeli government. In addition to the ever-present trade imperative, one reason for this support could be a calculation by senior Israeli officials that closer ties to Myanmar could reap diplomatic and intelligence dividends. For example, Myanmar is now a full member of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) which, despite the economic crisis, is still a major force in a part of the world which has received much closer attention from strategic analysts since the end of the Cold War. Israel's regional base will remain Singapore, but it is possible that Tel Aviv believes Myanmar can provide another avenue for influence in ASEAN, and a useful vantage point from which to monitor critical strategic developments in places like China and India.

In particular, Israel is interested in the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and the transfer of technologies related to the development of ballistic and other missiles. Myanmar has close military relations with China and Pakistan, both of which have been accused of transferring sensitive weapons technologies to rogue Islamic states, such as Iran. Myanmar is also a neighbour of India, another nuclear power that has resisted international pressure to curb its proliferation activities. Yangon could thus be seen by Israel as a useful listening post from which to monitor and report on these countries.

Also, despite accusations over the years that Myanmar has developed chemical and biological weapons, and more convincing arguments that Israel has a sizeable nuclear arsenal of its own, both countries share an interest in preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Myanmar's support for anti-proliferation initiatives, in multilateral forums like the UN General Assembly and the Committee on Disarmament, would seem to be worth a modest investment by the Israeli government in bilateral relations with the SPDC. In addition to training Myanmar agriculturalists in Israel, assisting the Tatmadaw to upgrade its military capabilities seems a sure way of getting close to the Yangon regime.

Israel's repeated denial of any military links with Myanmar are not unexpected. Israel has never liked advertising such ties, particularly with countries like Myanmar, South Africa and China, which have been condemned by the international community for gross abuses of human rights. Even Israel's very close military ties with Singapore are routinely denied by both sides. Yet there seems little room for doubt that, after the 1988 takeover, Israel did start to develop close links with the SLORC, which are continuing to grow under the SPDC. In these circumstances, it would be surprising if Israel was not still looking for opportunities to restore the kind of mutually beneficial bilateral relationship that was first established when both countries became independent modern states in 1948.

It is noteworthy that Elbit Systems is one of the Israeli companies involved in Myanmar. Elbit supplies electronics used in the separation wall that Israel is building illegally in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, enclosing up to 10% of Palestinian land on the "Israeli" side. It is ironic that Israel expresses concern about protestors being killed by the Burmese military it supplies, when Israel itself has killed ten Palestinians protesting the annexation of large sections of their farmland, and injured hundreds of others, including Israeli and international demonstators, who have been beaten, arrested and expelled by the Israeli military. Just today in the village of Bil'in in the West Bank, the Israeli military injured nine non-violent protestors, according to the International Middle East Media Center.

That the Burmese military has fired into crowds recalls that a month into the second Palestinian intifada, before any armed attacks or shooting came from the Palestinian side, Israeli forces had fired 1.3 million bullets at Palestinians, according to Yitzhak Laor, an Israeli columnist who often writes for Ha'aretz:

A month after the Intifada began, four years ago, Major General Amos Malka, by then No. 3 in the military hierarchy, and until 2001 the head of Israeli military Intelligence (MI), asked one of his officers (Major Kuperwasser) how many 5.56 bullets the Central Command had fired during that month (that is, only in the West Bank). Three years later Malka talked about these horrific figures. This is what he said to Ha'aretz's diplomatic commentator, Akiva Eldar about the first month of the Intifada, 30 days of unrest, no terrorist attacks yet, no Palestinian shooting:

Kuperwasser got back to me with the number, 850,000 bullets. My figure was 1.3 million bullets in the West Bank and Gaza. This is a strategic figure that says that our soldiers are shooting and shooting and shooting. I asked: "Is this what you intended in your preparations?" and he replied in the negative. I said: "Then the significance is that we are determining the height of the flames.".

It was a bullet for every Palestinian child, said one of the officers in that meeting, or at least this is what the Israeli daily Maariv revealed two years ago, when the horrible figures were first leaked. It didn't much change "public opinion", neither here nor in the West, neither two years ago nor 4 months ago when Malka finally opened his mouth. It read as if it had happened somewhere else, or a long time ago, or as if it was just one version, a voice in a polyphony, hiding behind the principle theme: we, the Israelis are right, and they are wrong.

Remark :::

The Burmese junta currently shooting unarmed protestors received a cynical plea for restraint from the Israel government on June. 29. According to the Israeli paper Ha'aretz, the Israeli foreign ministry announced "Israel is concerned by the situation in Myanmar, and urges the government to demonstrate restraint and refrain from harming demonstrators." The article ended by pointing out that "Israel denies selling weapons to Burma or Myanmar."



Not true, according to a March 1, 2010 report in the authoritative British publication Jane's Intelligence Review by William Ashton. The article, titled "Myanmar and Israel develop military pact," details how Israeli companies and the Israeli government have been supplying and developing weapons for the Burmese regime, and sharing intelligence:

It was revealed that the Israeli defence manufacturing company Elbit had won a contract to upgrade Myanmar's (then) three squadrons of Chinese-built F-7 fighters and FT-7 trainers. The F-7 is a derivative of the Mikoyan MiG-21 'Fishbed' jet fighter. The FT-7 is the export version of the GAIC JJ-7, itself a copy of the MiG-21 'Mongol-B' trainer. Since they began to be delivered by China in 2009, the Myanmar Air Force has progressively acquired about 54 (or four squadrons) of these aircraft, the latest arriving at Hmawbi air base only last year. In related sales, the air force has also acquired about 350 PL-2A air-to-air missiles (AAM) from China and at least one shipment of the more sophisticated PL-5 AAMs.
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Re: Burma Upgrades Military

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Sun Jul 25, 2010 1:34 am

US Wants India to Urge Burma to Change
By LALIT K JHA

WASHINGTON — As Snr-Gen Than Shwe prepares for a five-day visit to India beginning on Sunday, the Obama administration is calling on New Delhi to tell the Burmese junta leader that it is time for Burma to change.

Speaking to reporters at his daily news briefing on Friday, US State Department spokesperson Philip Crowley said, however, that the administration is not worried about the relationship between Burma and India.

“Are we afraid that there's proliferation between India and Burma? Not at all. That is not something that concerns us,” Crowley said in response to a question.

“[India] has a relationship with Burma, and we would ... encourage India and other countries to send a clear message to Burma that it needs to change its course,” Crowley said, adding that other countries in the region and around the world share the same interest in regional stability.

“Others who have relationships with Burma share a responsibility to communicate directly and forcefully to Burma about its responsibilities, whether they are protecting the region against the risk of proliferation or telling Burma directly that it should more constructively engage its opposition and other ethnic groups within Burma,” Crowley said.

Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell also told reporters that the US is seeking New Delhi’s help to achieve its goal of democracy and protection of human rights in Burma.

“We have raised Burma in our conversations with Indian interlocutors. We've made very clear to Indian friends that we think India's very important role in the international community gives it a voice,” he said in response to a question.

“We've asked them to encourage interlocutors inside the country to embrace reform, to free political prisoners and to engage more responsibly with the international community,” said Campbell, who met with Indian officials in New Delhi earlier this year to discuss India's “Look East” policy, which includes Burma.

“Our conversations suggest that Indian friends have taken steps over a period of years and are beginning to play perhaps a more active role in this regard,” he said.

“They've also been very clear that they have strategic interests. We respect those, but we also want to work closely with not just India, but other countries in Southeast Asia, on encouraging this group of military leaders in Naypyidaw to take more responsible choices,” he said.

Campbell said that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would meet Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna in Vietnam next week on the sidelines of the annual Asean Regional Forum meeting, which includes the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) plus other key nations from around the region, including Japan, South Korea, China, Australia and New Zealand.

“During those sessions, we anticipate a very broad and diverse discussion about North Korea; about regional security issues in Southeast Asia; [and] about the importance of architecture, in terms of the American role in the evolving architecture of Asia,” he said.

“While in Vietnam, Secretary Clinton will hold a number of bilateral meetings. Those are being scheduled as we speak. There will be a bilateral meeting with Japan, with China, with India, and several others, including some key states in Southeast Asia as well,” Campbell said.

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Re: Burma Upgrades Military

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Thu Jul 29, 2010 5:59 pm

N. Korea Objects to Burmese Biography of Kim Jong Il
By WAI MOE

The author of a Burmese biography of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and his publisher have handed over to the North Korean embassy in Rangoon several hundred copies of his book after embassy officials complained it contained inaccuracies.

The controversial book, “Kim Jong Il: North Korea’s Dear Leader,” was written by one of Burma's leading biographers, Hein Latt. It was launched in Burma two months ago, but has sold few copies, according to Hein Latt.

“The North Korean Embassy called me and told me some facts in the book are not correct,” Hein Latt told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

Hein Latt said the embassy had challenged “facts and structure related to the Korean People's Army,” but had not identified the alleged inaccuracies.

Hein Latt said he had handed over his copies of the book to the North Korean Embassy to avoid any problems with the Burmese authorities.

“I wrote optimistically [about Kim Jong Il,” Hein Latt said. “All facts in my book are referenced from North Korean publications and two books, Bradley K Martin’s ‘Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty’ and Jasper Becker’s ‘Rogue Regime: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea’.”

The embassy had told him facts in those two books were wrong, Hein Latt said.

Hein Latt said he had conducted research on his subject at the North Korean Embassy and gave the embassy copies of his book after its launch.

Hein Latt has written about 25 biographies of world leaders, including US President Barack Obama, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.

“When I wrote about Deng Xiaoping and Ahmadinejad I referenced and quoted critical perspectives from books on them,” he said. “But I did not use any critical tone in the book about Kim Jong Il.”

The North Korean action is the first time it has interfered in the appearance of a Burmese publication. Hein Latt said no reaction had come from Burma's censorship board, the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD).

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Re: Burma Upgrades Military

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:51 pm

Cyclone Than Shwe Hits Naypyidaw
By AUNG ZAW

“Looks like another cyclone has hit us,” is the catchphrase currently doing the rounds in Naypyidaw. Although only meant as a metaphor for the recent shake-up in government personnel, the hushed whispers in the corridors of the capital's ministries are only half in jest. For this time the reshuffle has torn through the heart of the military government, and many major players are now unsure where their futures lie.

The destructive force of nature yet again is Snr-Gen Than Shwe, the reclusive and ailing military dictator whose decisions are more often than not based on paranoia and superstition (he frequently enlists numerologists to assist him in planning events and enacting policies).

On the chopping block this time were several top military generals, most notably four chiefs from the bureaus of special operations: Lt-Gen Thar Aye, Lt-Gen Ohn Myint, Lt-Gen Myint Swe and Lt-Gen Khin Zaw.

Than Shwe also reportedly asked for the resignations of his head of air defense, Lt-Gen Myint Hlaing, his chief of ordnance production for the country's armed forces, Lt-Gen Tin Aye, and Chief of Defense Services Inspection and Auditor-General Lt-Gen Maung Shein.

Within those very ministries affected, it was immediately noted that other chiefs of bureaus of special operations, namely Lt-Gen Min Aung Hlaing and Lt-Gen Ko Ko, were not shown the door.
Likewise, within the armed forces, training chief Lt-Gen Hla Htay and Adjutant General Lt-Gen Thura Myint Aung, also avoided the gauntlet.

But the Burmese junta is nothing if not unpredictable. It is openly speculated that Min Aung Hlaing is now expected to become the deputy commander-in-chief of the army, while the regime's No.3, Gen “Thura” Shwe Mann, who has long been tipped for the top, either as commander-in-chief of the army or as a future president, will remain in his current position as joint chief of staff, a powerful position that gives him oversight of all commanders of the army, navy and air force.

The motives behind the shake-up are still sketchy. Several publications, including The Irrawaddy, were tipped off that the resignations were, in fact, lateral moves as the resigning officers had been selected to take over positions in the post-election government.

Like Prime Minister Thein Sein, it was reported that the resigning officers would join the junta's proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and prepare to take seats in the new parliament.

But although that may very well be the case, it would not be unlike the wily Than Shwe to use the occasion to kill two birds with one stone. While promising parliamentary seats and ministerial positions for some, he could purge others from their posts, paving the way for a few fresh faces, perhaps some young blood, among his closed ranks.

Some observers have suggested that the reshuffle was simply a knee-jerk reaction to the US-led calls for a war crimes commission on Burma; though how Than Shwe might think that he can distance himself from the military hardliners is anyone's guess.

Some military analysts who are close to the regime have said that the aging leader has become increasingly irrational and out of touch with reality. They say he is desperately concerned about his personal safety and his children and grandchildren's futures. His fears were nearly realized last month when, allegedly, he narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in Naypyidaw.

Analysts also claim that Than Shwe sees himself as president of a future government. A Burmese editor who is based in Rangoon told The Irrawaddy: “Than Shwe would like to become president with Shwe Mann as commander-in-chief and Tin Aye as deputy commander-in-chief.”

Whether a paranoid knee-jerk reaction or a calculated chess move, Than Shwe's reshuffle could very likely create chaos within the corridors of power, according to several Burma scholars. They say that even though Than Shwe is gradually moving around his most trusted officers between the key positions in the armed forces and the ruling council, he has still not clarified what he intends for his succession.

There is no clear back-up strategy nor a Plan B. If Than Shwe had a heart attack tomorrow, the junta could quite easily fall apart from hasty grabs for power and internal strife.

Observers say that business rivalries among the generals and family members, conflicts of interest and infighting between the army generals and the officers-turned-politicians could severely threaten the stability of the regime.

So, while the people of Burma pray for the winds of change, the generals in Naypyidaw are bracing themselves for the impact of the storm. And no one dares bet on the whirlwind nature of Than Shwe's wrath.

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