Commentary on “Understanding the Tatmadaw's 'Standard Army' reforms”

The most important point in the whole article is a sentence, which stated: "Although the government has made structural adjustments to the civil-military coordination mechanism, there is no sign of it attempting to challenge the position granted to the Tatmadaw by the 2008 Constitution."

From this outgoing point, we could measure whether the Tatmadaw preferred "Standard Army" is in fact a real "Union Army".

The military top brass first priority is to keep the Tatmadaw Bamar-dominated one. In other words, its policy doctrinal formulation will be made by ethnic Bamar military leaders and the commanding leadership would also be Bamar, with some of the cannon fodder of lower ranks recruited from other non-Bamar ethnic groups, to be able to claim as being already a "Union Army". Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing and other Bamar military leaders have taken this position as a main argument.

Thus, it is really a far cry from what the ethnic resistance armies have had in mind. The general basic aspiration of the ethnic armies is to be integrated into a "Federal Army", which takes order from a federal union government. An ideal solution to it would be the ethnic armies taking up the security of their own states, contributing appropriate quotas to the federal army for national defense. At least, this is a sort of stand that is being considered among the ethnic resistance armies, if not exactly and literally. Besides, security sector reform (SSR) also looms larger from the ethnic point of view, but less emphasizes in demobilization and reintegration (DDR).

To sum up, the Tatmadaw's intention is to reform for more military capability, with rapid deployment, in what is meant to become a "Standard Army" and not "Professional Army", in a sense which literally means to take order from the elected civilian government.

But the most crucial underlining belief is that the Tatmadaw leaders have been indoctrinated to believe that it is the sole responsible, organized self-appointed body to see through the country's democratic transition, without the dismemberment of the country, in one piece. And of course, this needs time, and which is why it is geared to stay on for sometimes as the protector of the country and in turn needed to be vested with leading role in government's policy decision-making. Although it is hard to imagine on what really the Tatmadaw leadership understands by the real democratization process and democratic principles, given that it has only lived through under the military dictatorship for the past decades.

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