According to a new updated report published in August by the Network for Democracy and Development (NDD), 29% of Naypyitaw’s infantry battalions are in the country’s biggest state, Shan.
Acknowledging that it is still in the process of tracking down new battalions being formed by the regime, the 540-page study says it has so far been able to ferret out 526 of them, of which 152 are in Shan State:
|North||Northeastern Command||50 (including 3 in Mongmit)|
|South||Eastern Command||36 (not including units in Kayah)|
|Central||Central East Command||26|
The Central East Region Command, the 14th in the series, was established in December 2010 at Kholam sub-township, Namzang township, Loilem district. It is commanded by Brig Gen Mya Tun Oo and includes 4 new units: Infantry Battalions (IBs) 149,150,151 and 152. The command’s operational areas cover Loilem, Laikha, Namzang, Kunhing, Mongnai, Mongpan, Langkherh, Mongkeung, Kehsi, Monghsu and Lawkzawk. Since March, it has been taking part in the operations against the Shan State Army (SSA) that has refused to accept Naypyitaw’s Border Guard Force (BGF) program, together with its sister commands: Northeastern and Eastern.
Apart from infantry battalions, the study also list a number of supporting units in Shan State:
5 signal battalions
39 artillery battalions
2 missile battalions
4 tank battalions
3 armored battalions
8 air defense battalions
5 field engineering battalions
5 BGF battalions
Since 2009, Naypyitaw has formed 23 BGF battalions:
3 in Kachin State
2 in Kayah (Karenni) State
5 in Shan State (Kokang, Mongton, Mongyu, Mongkoe and Markmang)
13 in Karen State
In addition, the Burma Army also has a number of People’s Militia Forces (PMFs), of which the most well known are the former PaO National Army (PNA), Mong Tai Army (MTA) remnants and SSA splinter groups.
According to sources, both rebel and civilian, most of the battalions are woefully understrength, undernourished and underprepared. “Its main strength lies in heavy weapons,” said a border watcher. “If it weren’t for them, the Burma Army wouldn’t have been able to take the [Kachin Independence Army’s] 4th Brigade base (at Loikang, Shan State North on 27 September) with such relative ease.”