Armed opposition lacks unity: Burmese officer

Loi Taileng — What the armed opposition needs is more about unity than manpower and firepower, according to a senior Myanmar Army officer, a recent report by the Restoration Council of Shan State / Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) said.

The source, a respected Shan monk in southern Shan State, had recalled a visit by a Burmese commander during the 2011 offensive by the Myanmar Army against the RCSS/SSA’s sister organization, Shan State Progress Party / Shan State Army. “He told me that morale was so shaky among the troops that command and control was a big problem,” he was quoted as saying. “If the rebels can stage a concerted counter offensive, we’ll all be in trouble. Luckily, that hasn’t happened yet because they are still fragmented.”

The Myanmar Army, on 13 March 2011, launched Operation Zwe Man Hein against the SSA North, as the SSPP/SSA is commonly known, after the latter refused Naypyitaw’s call to become a People’s Militia Force (PMF). Until the end of August, when the offensive ended, the SSA North had claimed to have fought 308 clashes, killing more than 500 and wounding more than 600, while suffering 33 killed and 44 wounded on its side.

The Myanmar Army is also reportedly suffering heavy losses, including hundreds of desertions, in its current war against the Kachin Independence Organization / Kachin Independence Army (KIO/KIA).

On the other hand, the 11 armed movement alliance, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), that has also formed a Federal Union Army (FUA), has yet to take any military action against Naypyitaw forces. The only exceptions are the Palaung State Liberation Front / Ta-ang National Liberation Army (PSLF/TNLA) and the SSA-North that are fighting behind the lines in northern Shan State.

6 of the UNFC’s member organizations: Karen National Union (KNU), Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), New Mon State Army (NMSP), Chin National Front (CNF), PaO National Liberation Organization (PNLO) and SSPP/SSA have signed ceasefire agreements with the quasi-civilian government headed by U Thein Sein.


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