Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government said it has formed a command structure to coordinate between civilian resistance forces and allied ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) to fight the regime.
U Naing Htoo Aung, permanent secretary of the NUG’s Defense Ministry, told The Irrawaddy that the Central Command and Coordination Committee (C3C) included leaders from the NUG and EAOs to engage with civilian resistance groups, known as People’s Defense Forces (PDFs), across the country.
The PDFs have been largely been formed by young people in retaliation to junta crackdowns in March on anti-regime protesters.
There are now hundreds of PDFs across the country engaging in guerrilla warfare and urban hit-and-run attacks on military targets. They received combat training from some allied EAOs. Some PDFs are not under the NUG’s command.
The command strategy comes two months after the NUG declared a people’s war against the junta on September 7. Clashes between the PDFs and regime troops are reported most days in several states and regions.
U Naing Htoo Aung said the C3C would form an important, single chain of command against the junta.
“We are reaching out to other PDFs who are not under our command to encourage them to follow the code of conduct of the NUG’s defense ministry,” he said.
“The main aim is strong collaboration between the EAOs and PDFs under our command. The C3C is vital to resource management among our allies,” the permanent secretary said.
He said plans are being developed with some unnamed EAOs to provide weapons and other equipment to the PDFs.
But he refused to name the EAOs involved and give details of the plans.
The NUG and EAOs have been working on a military command mechanism since September and some key EAOs are believed to be allied with the NUG.
In Sagaing Region and Chin State in Myanmar’s northwest, the regime’s offensives against the PDFs and Chin National Front (CNF) are gaining momentum in response to heavy junta casualties.
The CNF has been cooperating with the NUG since May and the powerful Kachin Independence Army (KIA) is believed to be backing the resistance movement.
The KIA has refused to recognize the regime and told it not to harm Kachin protesters.
In March fighting between the KIA and junta troops in Kachin and northern Shan states broke out after junta forces killed two protesters in Kachin State’s capital, Myitkyina.
In Kayah State the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and Karenni Army are supporting the resistance and training civilian volunteers. Kayah State has been one of the flashpoints between junta troops and PDFs.
The KNLA’s political wing, the Karen National Union, is Myanmar’s oldest ethnic armed group, which has been fighting for federalism since 1948.
It has attacked the regime bases along the Thai border in response to crackdowns on protesters and has called on the military to return to barracks.
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