Burma

Myanmar Air Force Chief Forced to Retire

By The Irrawaddy 12 January 2022

Myanmar’s air force chief General Maung Maung Kyaw, who oversaw airstrikes that killed dozens of civilians while businesses owned by his family enriched themselves, has been forced to retire.

The military regime did not give a reason for its unexpected decision to replace him with Chief of Staff (Air Force) Lieutenant General Tun Aung. General Maung Maung Kyaw, who was once regarded as being close to coup leader Senior General Ming Aung Hlaing, is 58 and still two years short of the official retirement age in Myanmar.

But junta sources said that the decision was in accordance with military retirement policy because General Maung Maung Kyaw had already served as head of the air force for four years.

Striking military captain Nyi Thuta said: “There have been previous cases in which the military extended the retirement age for people it wanted to keep. Perhaps the coup leader thinks the general does not listen to him, and therefore he doesn’t want to keep him.”

But General Maung Maung Kyaw will remain a member of the State Administration Council (SAC), the military regime’s governing body.

The general was sanctioned by the United States in February 2021, for being a senior member of the military and the SAC responsible for lethal crackdowns on peaceful anti-coup protestors.

General Maung Maung Kyaw is the youngest son of General Thura Kyaw Htin, who served as the air force chief during the military dictatorship of the 1980s. The general was rapidly promoted through the ranks before becoming head of the air force in January 2018.

At that time, General Maung Maung Kyaw was seen as close to Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing and was widely tipped by Myanmar defense analysts as likely to move into a more senior role eventually.

His promotion to air force chief saw his relatives establishing companies which were later involved in deals to supply the armed forces and the country’s aviation sector, according to an investigation by Reuters last year.

The junta has also recently forced Lieutenant General Aung Lin Dwe to step down as Judge Advocate General and transferred him to the reserve force. He did, however, retain his position as the SAC’s secretary.

Since last year’s coup, Myanmar’s air force has launched airstrikes against resistance groups and ethnic armed groups fighting the military regime. Dozens of civilians were killed and thousands displaced by junta airstrikes in 2021.

The Karen National Union said that at least 31 civilians were killed by airstrikes in its territory in Karen State last year, while more than 50,000 people were displaced by the fighting. Many more are feared to have been affected in Sagaing Region and, most recently, thousands of civilians were displaced by airstrikes in Loikaw, the Kayah State capital.

Myanmar’s military has stepped up its use of aerial attacks, despite demands from ethnic armed groups that it ceases using them because they do more harm to the civilian population than resistance fighters.


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