Depleted Myanmar Military Calls Up Retired Cops to Fill Ranks

By The Irrawaddy 3 October 2022

The Myanmar military is turning to retired policemen to replenish its ranks, in a further sign that desertions and casualties are taking a heavy toll on the regime.

Since last year’s coup, the regime’s fighting forces have been seriously depleted by desertions and casualties sustained in daily clashes with People’s Defense Force (PDF) groups and ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), and it has struggled to recruit both officer cadets and privates.

The regime has recalled ex-soldiers to paid active duty and formed armed vigilante groups like Pyu Saw Htee militias and people’s security groups.

The Myanmar Veteran Police Association was formed in December last year, deputy junta chief Soe Win said as he addressed an event to mark the 58th annual Myanmar Police Force Day on Saturday.

Retired police officers, if all of them could be gathered, could serve as a national force, Soe Win said as he elaborated on the purpose of the association. He also called for persuading more retired police officers to join the association.

The organization opened its headquarters in Naypyitaw in February. The junta’s home affairs minister, Lieutenant General Soe Htut, who is also on the regime’s administrative body, the State Administration Council, formally opened the building.

Currently, ex-soldiers who have returned to uniform lead militia groups, serve at military checkpoints in towns, and provide security alongside active-duty soldiers, police, militia members and ward and village administrators. Police veterans are also expected to serve the same role as a “national force.” The Myanmar Police Force has also been hit hard by desertions and casualties. At least 6,000 police have joined the Civil Disobedience Movement, formed by striking civil servants, since the coup.

The lauding of the Myanmar Veteran Police Association by Soe Win at a time when police stations are increasingly targeted by resistance forces across the country is surely not a good omen for ex-police officers.

In March, the regime enacted a new law making it compulsory for law enforcement officers to fight alongside soldiers on the front lines, while bringing the country’s police force under the control of the military. The regime has also raised the retirement age to 62 from 60.