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General/Strategic

Websites/Multiple Documents

Title: "BurmaNet News" Military archive
Language: English
Source/publisher: Various sources via "BurmaNet News"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 18 April 2012


Title: Bookshop: Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU
Description/subject: With its Working Papers and Canberra Papers, SDSC has more or less cornered the market in analyses of Burma's military. Studies by Andrew Selth, Des Ball and Maung Aung Myoe... The SDSC bookshop holds a full range of current SDSC publications in the Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence series, SDSC Working Papers and a number of 'one-off' publications. [Full list here, with abstracts; many Burma-related papers]
Language: English
Source/publisher: Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 10 December 2010


Title: CIA World Factbook - Myanmar - Military
Language: English
Source/publisher: CIA
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Intelligence Bulletin Article List (1942-1945)
Description/subject: The lists of articles include some on Burma military during WWII
Language: English
Source/publisher: military-info
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Jane's Information Group
Description/subject: Search for Burma. Subscription needed for most full articles
Source/publisher: Jane's
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw)
Description/subject: The military of Myanmar, officially known as Tatmadaw ... is the primary military organisation responsible for the territorial security and defense of Union of Myanmar. The armed forces are administered by the Ministry of Defence and are composed of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. Auxiliary services include Myanmar Police Force, People Militia Units and Frontier Forces, locally known as Na Sa Kha. All service personnel are volunteers although the government is empowered to undertake conscription if considered necessary for Myanmar's defense. Tatmadaw has been engaged in a bitter battle with ethnic insurgents, political dissidents and narco-armies since the country gained its independence from Great Britain in 1948. Retaining much of the organizational structure established by the British, Myanmar Armed Forces continue to face challenges from aging weaponry and equipment and relying on foreign purchases of military equipment. However, the armed forces are an essential to Myanmar's strategic importance, power and capabilities in the region..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Wikipedia
Format/size: html, pdf
Date of entry/update: 08 October 2007


Title: Myanmar Army
Description/subject: "The Myanmar Army is the land component (army) of the Military of Myanmar, previously known as Burma. The Myanmar Army is the largest branch of the Armed Forces of Myanmar and has the primary responsibility of conducting land-based military operations. The Myanmar Army maintains the second largest active force in Southeast Asia. The Myanmar Army has a troop strength around 428,000. It is a completely voluntary service, the military draft never having been imposed in Myanmar. The army has rich combat experience in fighting insurgents in rough terrains, considering it has been conducting non-stop counter-insurgency operations against ethnic and political insurgents since its inception in 1948. The force is headed by the Commander in Chief (Army), currently Vice Senior General Maung Aye. The highest rank in the Myanmar Army is Senior General, equivalent to Field Marshal position in Western Armies and is currently held by Senior General Than Shwe. Defence budget of Myanmar Military is 7.07 billions US dollars..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Wikipedia
Format/size: html, pdf
Date of entry/update: 08 October 2007


Title: Project Ploughshares - Armed Conflicts Report: Burma
Description/subject: Details of armed conflict in Burma since 1988
Language: English
Alternate URLs: http://www.ploughshares.ca/libraries/ACRText/ACR-Burma.html
Date of entry/update: 10 December 2010


Title: The Burma Campaign
Description/subject: These pages contain order of battle information for the Burma Campaign, 1941-1945, historical details and other items of interest.
Language: English
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: The Burma Campaign - Burma Army 1937-1941
Language: English
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: The Chinese Military
Description/subject: Detailed analysis of the Chinese military and its foreign military cooperation
Language: English
Source/publisher: Library of Congress
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)
Description/subject: Various publications covering military issues.
Language: English
Alternate URLs: http://www.iiss.org/publications/
Date of entry/update: 10 December 2010


Individual Documents

Title: Burma schafft Freiwilligenarmee ab
Date of publication: 10 January 2011
Description/subject: In Burma soll es künftig ein Gesetz geben, wonach Männer und Frauen unter Strafandrohung zum Wehrdienst einberufen werden können. Wehrdienstverweigerern droht nach der neuen Regelung eine Haftstrafe von bis zu fünf Jahren.
Language: Deutsch, German
Source/publisher: NZZ Online
Date of entry/update: 27 January 2011


Title: Than Shwe's "The Art of War"
Date of publication: April 2009
Description/subject: Burmese generals have long sought to defend themselves from imagined external threats, masking their intense paranoia with a military shield... "ARMED ethnic insurgents pose little threat nowadays to the Burmese regime, but that doesn't deter the generals in Naypyidaw from continually strengthening their military capacity and spending the country's precious foreign reserves on more sophisticated weapons, such as jet fighters, an air defense system, naval ships and short and medium-range missiles. Analysts generally agree that the junta's modern military arsenal is ill-suited for combating guerilla warfare in a mountainous jungle, but is more realistically intended as a defensive shield against an external threat...Nowadays, in almost every speech to commanders and soldiers, the army leaders - including Than Shwe - remind them of the need for a people's war and to nurture the support of the masses. Than Shwe's call is for a "people's war under modern conditions," wrote Maung Aung Myoe. Interestingly, under Than Shwe's people's war, the concept of cyber warfare has also been launched. In 1998, the Tatmadaw held its first joint military exercises of the navy, the air force and the army to introduce counteroffensive strategies to the existing people's war doctrine. During these exercises, the fire brigade, the Myanmar Red Cross and the Union Solidarity Development Association were mobilized. "The exercises," Maung Aung Myoe wrote, "revealed that the purpose of such a counteroffensive was to counter low-level foreign invasion." According to the author, the new doctrine developed under the regime dictates that, should the standing conventional force fail to defeat an invading force on the beachheads or landing zones, resistance would be organized at the village, regional and national levels to sap the will of the invading force. When the enemy's will is sapped and its capabilities are dispersed and exhausted, the Burmese army would be able to muster sufficient force to wage a counteroffensive that would drive the invader from Burma..."
Author/creator: Aung Zaw
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 17, No. 2
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 02 April 2009


Title: Networks of Noncompliance: Grassroots resistance and sovereignty in militarised Burma
Date of publication: 10 November 2008
Description/subject: "...This paper examines state repression and state-society conflict in Burma through the lens of rural and urban resistance strategies. It finds very well developed 'networks of noncompliance' through which civilians evade and undermine state control over their lives, and that SPDC's brutal tactics represent not control, but a lack of control. Using concrete examples, the paper argues that outside agencies ignore this state-society struggle over sovereignty at their peril: by ignoring the interplay of intervention with local politics and militarisation, claiming a 'humanitarian neutrality' which is impossible in practice, and portraying civilians as helpless pawns, those who intervene and those who document the situation risk undermining the very civilians they wish to help, while facilitating further state repression. It calls for greater honesty and awareness in interventions, combined with greater outside engagement with villagers in their resistance strategies. Only days after this paper was first presented at the Yale University Agrarian Studies Colloquium, some of its cautions about the naïveté of claiming humanitarian neutrality in Burma's politicised and militarised context were tragically realised, when Cyclone Nargis devastated parts of the country and international aid agencies were forced to confront firsthand the SPDC's raw disdain for its own civilian population. Some gave in and chanelled aid through the Burmese military, much of which never reached the target populations...".....Paper for Agrarian Studies Colloquium, April 25, 2008 by Kevin Malseed, Advisor, Karen Human Rights Group Program Fellow in Agrarian Studies, Yale University
Author/creator: Kevin Malseed
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Right Group (KHRG Articles & Papers)
Format/size: pdf (426 KB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2008/khrg08w3.html
Date of entry/update: 25 November 2009


Title: Burma's armed forces: How loyal?
Date of publication: 06 June 2008
Description/subject: "It is always difficult to know what is happening inside Burma, and in particular inside the armed forces (known locally as the Tatmadaw). There are signs, however, that the military government’s power base is weakening. The regime is not likely to fall any time soon, but this development has implications for Burma’s future stability and possibly even the regime’s long term survival..."
Author/creator: Andrew Selth
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Interpreter" - weblog of the Lowy Institute for International Policy
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 10 December 2010


Title: Burma: The limits of international action
Date of publication: 07 April 2008
Description/subject: "The demonstrations in Burma last August and September — dubbed the ‘saffron revolution’ due to the participation of many Buddhist monks — were initially spontaneous reactions to unexpected fuel price increases and the military government’s mistreatment of a few dissident monks. The demonstrations quickly developed, however, into an organised national protest against the regime’s brutal and inept rule. Since then, however, the international effort to resolve the crisis in Burma has run into the sand. Indeed, the unprecedented level of attention given to this issue last year, while clearly warranted at the time, may have achieved precisely the opposite of what was intended..."
Author/creator: Andrew Selth
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Interpreter" - weblog of the Lowy Institute for International Policy
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 04 March 2009


Title: Chinese Whispers: The Great Coco Island Mystery
Date of publication: January 2007
Description/subject: How a single news agency report led to the accepted belief that China has a sophisticated intelligence post in Burmese waters For almost 15 years, there has been a steady stream of newspaper stories, scholarly monographs and books that have referred inter alia to a large Chinese signals intelligence (SIGINT) station on Burma’s Great Coco Island, in the Andaman Sea. Yet it would now appear that there is no such base on this island, nor ever has been. The explosion of this myth highlights the dearth of reliable information about strategic developments in Burma since the creation of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) in 1988.
Author/creator: Andrew Selth
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 15, No. 1
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 30 December 2006


Title: Of kyay-zu and kyet-su: the military in 2006
Date of publication: January 2007
Description/subject: "...the Tatmadaw, like any large political institution anywhere in the world, is far from omnipotent. Its dominance in politics has not managed to create broad legitimacy at home or abroad, nor has its expanded power and size created a seamless or wholly unified institution. This chapter will explore the gap between the senior officers—who regularly perform acts of kyay-zu (which I translate in this context as ‘good deeds’)—and the rest of the military. Among their many often thankless tasks, soldiers and junior officers find themselves responsible for producing millions of kyet-su (physic nuts) to generate bio-energy..."
Author/creator: Mary Callahan
Language: English
Source/publisher: 2006 Burma Update Conference via Australian National University
Format/size: pdf (115K)
Alternate URLs: http://epress.anu.edu.au/myanmar/pdf_instructions.html
http://epress.anu.edu.au/myanmar/pdf/whole_book.pdf
Date of entry/update: 30 December 2008


Title: Chinese Military Bases in Burma: The Explosion of a Myth
Date of publication: 2007
Description/subject: Executive Summary: For 15 years, there has been a steady stream of newspaper stories, scholarly monographs and books that have referred inter alia to the existence of Chinese military bases in Burma. This apparent intrusion by China into the northern Indian Ocean has strongly influenced the strategic perceptions and policies of Burma’s regional neighbours, notably India. Reports of a large signals intelligence collection station on Great Coco Island in the Andaman Sea, for example, and a naval base on Hainggyi Island in the Irrawaddy River delta, have been cited as evidence that Burma has become a client state of China. Other observers have seen the existence of such bases as proof of China’s expansionist designs in the Indian Ocean region and its global ambitions. Few of these reports drew on hard evidence or gave verifiable sources to support their claims, but repeated denials of a Chinese military presence in Burma by Rangoon and Beijing were brushed aside. As these reports proliferated, they were picked up by respected commentators and academics and given fresh life in serious studies of the regional strategic environment. Each time they were cited in books and reputable journals they gained credibility, and it was not long before the existence of Chinese bases in Burma was widely accepted as an established fact. In 2005, however, the Chairman of the Indian Defence Force’s Chiefs of Staff Committee conceded that reports of a Chinese intelligence facility on one of Burma’s offshore islands were incorrect. At the same time, he announced that there were no Chinese naval bases in Burma. There are a number of possible explanations for these statements, but this remarkable about-face, on two issues that have preoccupied Indian defence planners for more than a decade, must throw doubt on the claims of other “Chinese bases” in Burma. It also raises a number of serious questions about current analyses of China’s relations with Burma, and of China’s strategic interests in the northern Indian Ocean region. It is possible to identify three schools of thought regarding China’s relations with Burma. The “domination” school believes that Burma has become a pawn in China’s strategic designs in the Asia–Pacific region, and is host to several Chinese military facilities. The “partnership” school sees a more balanced relationship developing between Beijing and Rangoon, but accepts that China has acquired bases in Burma as part of a long term strategy to establish a permanent military presence in the Indian Ocean. The “rejectionist” school, however, emphasises Burma’s strong tradition of independence and Rangoon’s continuing suspicions of Beijing. This school claims that, despite the conventional wisdom, Burma has been able to resist the enormous strategic weight of its larger, more powerful neighbour. Some members of this school argue that Burma has the whip hand in its relations with China, and has been able successfully to manipulate Burma’s sensitive geostrategic position to considerable advantage. While acknowledging the close bilateral ties that have developed since 1988, they are sceptical of claims that China has any military bases in Burma.
Author/creator: Andrew Selth
Language: English
Source/publisher: Griffith Asia Institute
Format/size: pdf (210K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.griffith.edu.au/search/cache.cgi?collection=Internet&doc=http%2Fwww.griffith.edu.au%...
Date of entry/update: 31 May 2007


Title: Burma's Regional Commanders
Date of publication: June 2006
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Research Pages
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: A Growing Tatmadaw
Date of publication: March 2006
Description/subject: From its modest origins in the years following independence from Britain, Burma's Tatmadaw has pushed in recent years to modernize and expand - and to further secure the power of the country's ruling generals... "Burma"shotgun" diplomacy with respect to domestic matters. Since the failed democratic uprising in 1988 and the present regime's seizure of power, Burma's armed forces have steadily increased in size and sophistication, an expansion that has always been justified by appeals to national unity and independence. Put another way, Burma's military growth has been fueled by appealing to the fears of internal or external disruptions..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 14, No3
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 01 May 2006


Title: Sleeping on the Job
Date of publication: June 2005
Description/subject: The junta’s inaction leaves Rangoon open to further attacks... "Absorbing the siege mentality that forms part of everyday life in Burma’s capital does not usually take a long time. Rangoon epitomizes military dictatorship: Barbed wire stretches along the walls of most residences, army jeeps and personnel carriers mingle with civilian traffic and guards cradle automatic weapons on street corners. Burma’s armed forces seem constantly on red alert. But when Rangoon suffered its worst terrorist act since independence, with official figures claiming 23 fatalities and more than 160 wounded, many in Burma felt the Tatmadaw, the country’s military forces, was left wanting. Sources in Rangoon say that instead of engaging with its own people, the private sector and the expatriate community to safeguard the country after May 7, the junta has resorted to haphazard security measures designed mainly to serve its own interests and thereby leaving the country open to further attack..."
Author/creator: Clive Parker
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 13, No. 6
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 28 April 2006


Title: Desmond Ball Unbound: An Interview with Desmond Ball
Date of publication: June 2004
Description/subject: "Desmond Ball is a professor at the Strategic Defence Studies Centre of The Australian National University, Canberra. He is author or editor of several books and papers on Burma, Asia-Pacific security issues, and nuclear strategy. His books include The Ties That Bind, Burma’s Military Secrets and most recently, The Boys in Black, about Thailand’s para-military border guards. He spoke to The Irrawaddy about ethnic insurgency and intelligence gathering in Burma and neighboring countries... Over the last few years, although the overall strength of the various resistance armies has decreased, the military successes have in fact increased"...
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy", Vol. 12, No. 6
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 07 October 2004


Title: The Enemy Within (Review of Mary Callahan's "Making Enemies")
Date of publication: May 2004
Description/subject: "The early days of the Burmese military provide important clues to how it views society, progress and itself...Mary Callahan’s remarkable book, Making Enemies, is the closest study yet to reveal why the modern Tatmadaw has pursued violent state-building strategies, creating a huge gulf between itself as an institution and the society it purports to protect. Callahan explores just how these brutal, inept, and intellectually bankrupt elite can maintain such enduring military rule, by uncovering their growth as an institution and the creation of a Tatmadaw “ideology” in the 1950s. The military has gradually come to view all of society as “potential enemies” in its drive to mold the nation in its image and preserve the sovereignty of the state..."
Author/creator: David Scott Mathieson
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy", Vol. 12, No. 5
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 01 August 2004


Title: Reconciling Burma/Myanmar: Essays on U.S. Relations with Burma
Date of publication: 03 March 2004
Description/subject: Free access not available anymore! The document needs to be purchased. Foreword: "An intellectual “tectonic shift” is underway, making a precarious policy even harder to justify. This rather unusual issue of the NBR Analysis does not stem from an NBR-sponsored project or study. Instead, it emerged as an initiative from an extraordinary assemblage of Burma scholars, all of whom regard last year’s announcement of a “road map” for constitutional change, the ongoing progress toward cease-fires with ethnic insurgents, and the worsening impact of sanctions on the general populace, as an opportunity to re-examine U.S. relations with Burma. Recognizing that the current situation may be conducive to taking a fresh perspective, and noting the significance of so many top Burma specialists reaching similar conclusions and working together, we decided to publish their essays. The scholars in this volume represent a range of perspectives. What is especially notable is that they collaborated in this enterprise and concur that the U.S. policy of sanctions is not achieving its worthy objective—progress toward constitutional change and democratization in Burma. Moreover, as some of these authors argue, viewing U.S.-Burma relations solely through this lens, important as it is, may be harming other U.S. strategic interests in Southeast Asia, both in terms of the ongoing war against terrorism and long-term objectives regarding the United States’ role as a regional security guarantor. The desperate humanitarian situation in the country, as detailed in many of these essays, and concerns about possible WMD-related activities only underscore the importance of looking at this issue again. U.S. policymakers in particular ought to consider whether it is now appropriate to take a more realistic, engaged approach, while easing restrictions on humanitarian assistance, programs to build civil society, and the forces of globalization that are needed for the Burmese peoples’ socio-economic progress and solid transition to civilian government and democracy..." Richard J. Ellings, President, The National Bureau of Asian Research... "Strategic Interests in Myanmar" - John H. Badgley; "Myanmar’s Political Future: Is Waiting for the Perfect the Enemy of Doing the Possible?" - Robert H. Taylor; "Burma/Myanmar: A Guide for the Perplexed?" - David I. Steinberg; "King Solomon’s Judgment" - Helen James; "The Role of Minorities in the Transitional Process" - Seng Raw; "Will Western Sanctions Bring Down the House?" - Kyaw Yin Hlaing; "The Crisis in Burma/Myanmar: Foreign Aid as a Tool for Democratization" - Morten B. Pedersen;
Author/creator: John H. Badgley (Ed.); Robert H. Taylor, David I. Steinberg, Helen James, Seng Raw, Kyaw Yin Hlaing, Morten B. Pedersen
Language: English
Source/publisher: "NBR Analysis" Vol.15, No. 1, March 2004 (The National Bureau of Asia Research)
Format/size: pdf (261K)
Date of entry/update: 29 February 2004


Title: The March of Folly (review of Andrew Selth's "Power without Glory")
Date of publication: September 2003
Description/subject: A Burma scholar traverses the history of Burma’s armed forces, its reasons for expansion and the complications facing the country’s most dominant institution... The Burma Army possibly has the worst press in Asia. Vilified as a regime of inept thugs who cosy up to drug dealers, whose foot soldiers perpetrate murder and rape on a major scale, who flesh out their ranks with children and waste money on planes that don’t fly at the expense of health and education, it would be hard to make them look good. Andrew Selth, the preeminent expert on the Burmese armed forces, the Tatmadaw, doesn’t attempt to improve their image, but he does provide the reader with a more in-depth perspective on this much-maligned organization. His book, Burma’s Armed Forces: Power Without Glory, provides a detailed study of the Tatmadaw, its dramatic expansion during the 1990s, and the ideological and practical impulses for its repressive behavior. It represents the most serious and erudite analysis of the Tatmadaw since its formation in the 1940s.
Author/creator: David Scott Mathieson
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 11, No. 7
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 06 November 2003


Title: Myanmar: The Future of the Armed Forces
Date of publication: 27 September 2002
Description/subject: "It is estimated that the armed forces in Myanmar (the Tatmadaw) have doubled in size since 1988, and consume up to 45 per cent of the government's annual budget. This has important implications for any moves towards democratisation. The first question is whether the military leaders could ever contemplate a more open debate on defence and security questions. At this point the chances are remote. However ICG believes it is prudent to canvass possible ways in which an agreement with the Tatmadaw on transition to a civilian government might be encouraged. The best advice to foreign governments and international organisations is to focus on establishing an "enabling environment". The military leadership is more likely to compromise in an atmosphere of progress than it is under siege."
Language: English
Source/publisher: International Crisis Group
Format/size: PDF (163K) 20 pages
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Burma and superpower rivalries in the Asia-Pacific
Date of publication: April 2002
Description/subject: "The Western democracies have declared that their strong stances against the current military regime in Burma reflect principled stands against the 1988 massacres of pro-democracy demonstrators, the failure of the regime to recognize the results of the 1990 general elections (which resulted in a landslide victory for the main opposition parties), and the regime?s continuing human rights abuses. Yet it can be argued that such a strong and sustained position would have been less likely had the Cold War not ended and Burma?s importance in the global competition between the superpowers not significantly waned. Lacking any pressing strategic or military reason to cultivate Burma, and with few direct political or economic interests at stake, countries like the United States and the United Kingdom can afford to isolate the Rangoon regime and impose upon it pariah status. If this was indeed the calculation made in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it is possible that the changes that have occurred in the strategic environment since then may prompt a reconsideration of these policies. Burma lies where South, Southeast, and East Asia meet; there the dominant cultures of these three subregions compete for influence. It lies also across the ?fault lines? between three major civilisations?Hindu, Buddhist, and Confucian.1 At critical times in the past, Burma has been a cockpit for rivalry between superpowers. Today, in the fluid strategic environment of the early twenty-first century, its important position is once again attracting attention from analysts, officials, and military planners. Already, Burma?s close relationship with China and the development of the Burmese armed forces have reminded South and Southeast Asian countries, at least, of Burma?s geostrategic importance and prompted a markedly different approach from that of the West..." The PDF version (222K) has a map and a 4-page presentation of Burma's geostrategic position not contained in the html version.
Author/creator: Andrew Selth
Language: English
Source/publisher: Naval War College Review, Spring 2002, Vol. LV, No. 2
Format/size: html (Google cache), pdf (226K)
Alternate URLs: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0JIW/is_2_55/ai_88174228
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: The Army I Remember, 1958
Date of publication: November 2001
Description/subject: An American doctor recalls his encounters with the Burmese army in the years before it seized power... Keith Dahlberg is a retired physician. This article is based on his experiences as mission doctor in Burma from 1957 to 1962. The conclusion is an excerpt from his novel, Flame Tree, based on more recent visits to Burma."
Author/creator: Keith Dahlberg. M.D.
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy", Vol 9. No. 8, October-November 2001
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Abuse under Orders: The SPDC and DKBA Armies Through the Eyes of their Soldiers
Date of publication: 27 March 2001
Description/subject: "This report looks at the armies of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) military junta ruling Burma and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), a Karen group allied with the SPDC, through the eyes of their own soldiers who have fled: the recruitment, the training, life in the battalions, relations with villagers and other groups, and their views on Burma’s present and future situation. What we find, particularly in the SPDC’s ‘Tatmadaw’ (Army), is conscription and coercion of children, systematic physical and psychological abuse by the officers, endemic corruption, and the rank and file of an entire Army forced into a system of brutality toward civilians. According to Tatmadaw deserters, one third or more of SPDC soldiers are children, morale among the rank and file is almost nonexistent, and half or more of the Army would desert if they thought they could survive the attempt. The Tatmadaw has expanded rapidly since repression of the democracy movement and the creation of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC, former name of the SPDC) in 1988. The Armed Forces as a whole have expanded from an estimated strength of 180,000 to over 400,000, making it the second-largest military in Southeast Asia after Vietnam. Military camps and soldiers are now common all over Burma, especially in the non-Burman ethnic states and divisions. With this increased military presence has come a rise in the scale of abuses and corruption committed by the Army. To achieve this military expansion, children as young as nine or ten are taken into the Army, trained and sent to frontline battalions. Of the six SPDC deserters interviewed for this report, five were under the age of 17 when they joined the Tatmadaw..." The SPDC and DKBA Armies through the Eyes of their Soldiers.Symbolically released on the SPDC's 'Armed Forces Day', this report uses the testimony of former SPDC soldiers to document the deteriorating situation in the ever-expanding Army: the conscription and coercion of 13-17 year old children who now make up as much as 30% of the rank and file, the corruption of the officers and their brutal treatment of their own soldiers, the systematic abuse and exploitation of the civilian population, and the crumbling morale, desertions and suicides. Also looks at the declining relevance of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) as the command structure weakens and units are left to pursue black market businesses to support themselves.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group Regional & Thematic Reports (KHRG #2001-01)
Format/size: pdf (2.8 MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2001/khrg0101.html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Burma/Myanmar: How Strong is the Military Regime?
Date of publication: 21 December 2000
Description/subject: This report, the first in a proposed series, is a preliminary assessment of the strengths and vulnerabilities of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), the military regime ruling Burma/Myanmar. Its purpose is to provide essential background - not at this stage policy prescriptions - for policy makers addressing the prospects for non-violent democratic transition in the country and ways to achieve that transition.
Language: English
Source/publisher: International Crisis Group
Format/size: pdf (305K)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Crossing the Line
Date of publication: August 2000
Description/subject: Defections in 1988. Two soldiers discuss their decision to leave an army that went too far.
Author/creator: Aung Zaw
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy", Vol. 8, No.8
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: China's Ambitions in Myanmar
Date of publication: 27 July 2000
Description/subject: While Myanmar remains shunned by the West, the country's two giant neighbours, India and China, are jockeying for influence in Yangon. China enjoys a considerable head start, but any major foreign-policy changes in Myanmar are unlikely as long as its two most important leaders, Ne Win and General Than Shwe, are still alive. But there are signs of a possible power struggle between their likely successors, the outcome of which could determine Myanmar's place in the context of broader regional security.
Language: English
Format/size: PDF(108.16 K)
Date of entry/update: 10 December 2010


Title: Myanmar's Military Links With Pakistan
Date of publication: 01 June 2000
Description/subject: Evidence of close ties between the armed forces and defence industries of Myanmar and Pakistan has led to concerns over the region's future stability.
Author/creator: William Ashton
Language: English
Source/publisher: Jane's Intelligence Review
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://forum.pakistanidefence.com/index.php?showtopic=21252&mode=threaded&pid=290942
Date of entry/update: 10 December 2010


Title: Asia-Child Soldiers
Date of publication: 10 May 2000
Description/subject: A coalition of social activists is scheduled to meet in Nepal next week to discuss ways to enact a global ban on the use of children as soldiers. The activists say the use of children in armed conflicts is widespread in Asia. As VOA correspondent Gary Thomas reports from Bangkok, they also say it is not just rebel opposition groups that indulge in the practice.
Author/creator: Gary Thomas, Bangkok
Language: English
Source/publisher: Voice of America
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Chinese Engineers to Help With Bases
Date of publication: April 2000
Description/subject: Two delegations of engineers from China's armed forces recently met with Burmese military officers at a navy base in Tenasserim Division from May 2 to 5, according to a report from Radio Free Asia. The meetings focused on the construction of two bases in the area with assistance from the Chinese Navy and Air Forces
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy", Vol. 8. No. 4-5
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: The Enemy Within
Date of publication: March 2000
Description/subject: The inner workings of the Tatmadaw
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy", Vol. 8 No.3
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Who Rules on the Ground? the Power of Myanmar's Area Commanders
Date of publication: 03 September 1999
Description/subject: THEY ARE TOUGH TO dialogue with, but they are not dinosaurs and they wield extraordinary power." The Yangon-based ambassador is talking about a low-profile but high-powered group who look after Myanmar's large, disparate, resource-rich - and often rebellious - regions: the area commanders. Together with seven better-known leaders like Than Shwe, Maung Aye and Khin Nyunt, the 12 regional generals sit on the ruling State Peace and Development Council. Their influence on national policy pales beside that of the Yangon hierarchy, but in the regions they rule.
Author/creator: Roger Mitton, Yangon
Language: English
Source/publisher: Asiaweek, Vol. 25 No. 35
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 10 December 2010


Title: Burma:The military digs in for the long haul
Date of publication: 02 September 1999
Description/subject: FOR WELL OVER A DECADE, the world has been calling on Burma's military dictatorship to hand over power to the civilians who won the country's last general election in 1990. For years, the generals have responded with promises of democratic progress and then done nothing despite protests at home, pleas from their neighbours, condemnation by the international community and sanctions from the United States and the European Union.
Author/creator: Bertil Lintner
Language: English
Source/publisher: Asia Pacafic Media Services Limited
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 10 December 2010


Title: ANU Paper Attacks [Australian] Government Stance on Burma's Regime
Date of publication: 04 August 1999
Description/subject: The federal government was attempting to gloss over the involvement of the Burmese leadership in the country's drug trade by using fine semantic distinctions, according to ANU defence strategist, Professor Desmond Ball.
Author/creator: Tania Cutting
Language: English
Source/publisher: ANU Reporter
Format/size: PDF (843.71 K)
Date of entry/update: 10 December 2010


Title: Burma's Armed Forces: Preparing for the 21st Century
Date of publication: 01 November 1998
Description/subject: William Ashton examines the expansion of Burma's armed forces, concluding that the regime may well become one of the best-equipped in Southeast Asia.
Author/creator: William Ashton
Language: English
Source/publisher: Jane's Intelligence Review
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Tatmadaw Relives Glory Days With Attacks on Refugees
Date of publication: April 1998
Description/subject: March 27 marked the fifty-third anniversary of the "Japanese revolution" declared by Gen. Aung San, Burma's independence hero and founder of the Tatmadaw, or armed forces.
Author/creator: By LJN
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy", Vol. 6, No. 2
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: La destruction de l'économie birmane par les militaires
Date of publication: September 1997
Description/subject: "...La plupart des signes d'alerte précoce d'une déstabilisation radicale sont présents en Birmanie. Ils comprennent le déclin de l'économie, des dépenses disproportionnées pour la défense, une armée surdimensionnée et peu disciplinée, des violations généralisées des droits de l'Homme, l'accroissement de la polarisation des revenus, la dégradation de l'environnement et la guerre civile. La décision des dirigeants de l'armée en 1988 de rechercher des solutions militaires aux problèmes politiques, d'abandonner la tentative de gouverner en équilibrant les forces intérieures du pays et de chercher à la place des soutiens militaires et financiers de l'extérieur pour imposer leur ordre au peuple birman, a mal tourné. Les rentrées financières attendues ne se sont pas matérialisées. Après avoir liquidé les actifs disponibles de façon immédiate et après avoir échoué dans ses projets économiques tels que les exportations de riz et l'Année du Tourisme, le Slorc est à nouveau proche de l'insolvabilité. Si le Slorc ne peut pas écarter l'option militaire prise en 1988 et s'engager dans d'authentiques négociations tripartites avec l'opposition politique et avec les organisations des groupes d'ethnie non-birmane et demander ensemble une assistance internationale, une nouvelle détérioration économique et une déstabilisation aggravée semblent probables. Un scénario pourrait être une désintégration générale du pays en une mosaïque de seigneurs de la guerre et de troupes ethniques rebelles, en étendant le système déjà pratiqué dans les territoires frontaliers. Les implications de ce scénario doivent être prises au sérieux par le Tatmadaw, qui prétend maintenir l'unité nationale, mais aussi par les voisins de la Birmanie et par la communauté internationale."
Author/creator: David Arnott
Language: French, Francais
Source/publisher: Relations Internationales & Stratégiques No. 27, Automne 1997.
Format/size: pdf (119K)
Date of entry/update: 24 August 2003


Title: Once the Ricebowl of Asia
Date of publication: September 1997
Description/subject: "The Burmese military's linked objectives, expanded military control of the country and large-scale international investment to pay for it, are mutually incompatible. Following their suppression of the 1988 Democracy Movement, the generals decided to increase the size of the armed forces from 186,000 to 500,000 in order to have a permanent military presence in most parts of the country. This involved up to US$2 billion of arms imports, mainly from China, a large recruitment drive and a reordering of the military command structure. Lacking the necessary funds to pay for military expansion following the failure of the previous regime's economic autarchy (and/or seeking a credible source of income to launder the revenues from Burma's illegal exports, mainly heroin), the junta opened the country to international investment, but the increased militarisation of the state and the military's continued stranglehold on the main sectors of the economy impeded the economic liberalisation and institutional reform needed by investors. In the civil war, the enhanced capacity of the re-armed and enlarged Burma Army allowed it to move from a strategy of seasonal combat to one of occupation. However, lack of discipline and the low level of soldiers' pay have led to the army living off the land, destroying the local economy, carrying out massive violations of human rights, further alienating the local population and creating refugee flows to neighbouring countries. The combination of a sinking economy, a large, badly-paid army and a tradition of warlordism could lead to a break-up of the country into a number of fiefdoms run by regional commanders and ethnic chiefs. Such a scenario should be taken seriously by the Tatmadaw, the neighbours and the international community..." Published in French as "La destruction de l'economie birmane par les militaires" though it was originally written in English with the title "Once the Ricebowl of Asia".
Author/creator: David Arnott
Language: English
Source/publisher: Relations Internationales & Strategiques No. 27, Automne 1997.
Format/size: html (52K)
Alternate URLs: Download: http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/ricebowl98.rtf
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Building an Army: the Early Years of the Tatmadaw
Date of publication: August 1997
Author/creator: Mary Callahan
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Burma Debate", Vol. IV, No. 3
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Colonel Chit Myaing
Date of publication: August 1997
Description/subject: Interview. As a student activist and supporter of the independence movement, Colonel Chit Myaing served his country for nearly 34 years. A member of the Thamani Tat, the military wing of the All Burma Students' Union in 1941, he later joined the Burma Independence Army under General Aung San and fought in the anti-Japanese campaign. He never planned to remain a soldier after the war, but nonetheless stayed on in the military at the personal urging of Aung San. From 1946 to 1958, Colonel Chit Myaing was engaged in numerous anti-insurgency operations, serving as a brigade commander in Southern and Central Burma, Wa and Kachin States. Under the Caretaker Government of 1958-1960 he was given charge of the Ministry of Immigration, National Registration and Census by Ne Win and following the military coup d'etat in 1962, was named a member of the ruling Revolutionary Council. He was appointed minister for trade and industry in 1963 and retired from the army after 25 years of service in 1967. Colonel Chit Myaing was later named ambassador to Yugoslavia and then moved to London as Burma's ambassador to the Court of St. James. He currently lives in the United States.
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Burma Debate", Vol. IV, No. 3
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: No Childhood at All - Child Soldiers in Burma
Date of publication: June 1997
Description/subject: "...The phenomenon of child soldiers in Burma can only be understood within the context of militarization of the society as a whole. War in Burma has affected every segment of society, its fallout having severest repercussions for the most disadvantaged groups. The political instability engendered by civil war has left the country in economic crisis and has isolated rural conflict areas from receiving badly-needed development assistance. NGO activities have been severely curtailed, mitigating most attempts to correct the situation. Consequently, many children in Burma are living in grinding poverty, uneducated and in poor health, with under-age labour one of their few choices to make ends meet. The everpresent reality of armed conflict is also deeply embedded in the consciousness of all Burma's peoples. With 36% of all Burma's inhabitants under the age of l5,1 most of the country's population have grown up under the shadow of civil war. The rapid expansion of the armed forces since 1988 has both forced and encouraged recruitment of minors into the ranks. Army entrance is sometimes perceived by children, especially orphans, as offering a protective haven from hunger and abuse. Many children therefore see joining the armed forces of any of the warring parties as their only means of survival. Unfortunately, research suggests that they are likely to find it just the opposite. While Burma has acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as yet there is little indication that its provisions are being followed in good faith, or that recruitment of children into the Tatmadaw has decreased..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Images Asia, Thailand
Format/size: pdf (513K)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: The Hunting of the SLORC
Date of publication: June 1993
Description/subject: "The Chinese sage Sun Tsu says in The Art of War that "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting". In its conduct of the civil war SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council, the martial law administration ruling Burma), is currently using Low Intensity Conflict strategies which avoid major military confrontation, but are designed to force a "political" (read "politico-military") settlement on the ethnic opposition and divide them from the political opposition. These strategies are closely tied to SLORC's attempts to acquire constitutional "legitimacy" by means of a National Convention, and are aided by the pressure which Burma's neighbors are putting on the non-burman ethnic groups to sign cease-fires. But no lasting solution to the country's problems will be achieved until the three main actors -- the military, the political opposition and the ethnic opposition -- meet on a basis of equality and with a strong political will to achieve national reconciliation and the restoration of democracy. The politico-military devices described in this paper must therefore be seen as measures by SLORC to retain power, reverse international criticism, especially at the UN General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights, and attract foreign investment and development assistance..."
Author/creator: David Arnott
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Peace Foundation
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003