Myanmar’s regime reshuffled its military commanders last week, according to junta sources.
The Northern Command chief Major General Myat Thet Oo and the Southeastern Command head Maj-Gen Ko Ko Maung switched positions.
The regime also transferred Eastern Central Command chief Maj-Gen Hla Moe to the Triangle Region Command which had its commander, Maj-Gen Myo Min Tun, transferred to the Eastern Command. Eastern commander Maj-Gen Lin Ni Aung was transferred to the Eastern Central Command.
A source, who asked for anonymity, said: “Commander swaps are normal. Commanders have greater authority at this time. They have the full authority to mobilize fighters and helicopters now. Previously, mobilizations were handled by the army’s commander-in-chief.”
The regime has also replaced the chief of 13th Military Operations Command, Brigadier General Myint Tun Naing, with the commander of Division 66 based in Bago.
The replacement came as the 13th, which is fighting in Karen State, is suffering heavy casualties, according to military sources.
Former army captain Lin Htet Aung, who defected and has been helping the resistance, said the reshuffles are normal but they might bring tactical changes.
“They are all using violence. But they can now take more violent measures. They may take additional measures to cut the resistance forces from the people. They may conduct joint operations using combat support units from various places. And they may use more lethal weapons,” he said.
The 13th’s chief was replaced mainly because of desertions and heavy casualties, Lin Htet Aung added.
“Some have deserted with weapons to join the resistance. Some have defected to the Cobra Column which operates with the Karen National Union [KNU]. It suffered heavy casualties in Thay Baw Boe so leadership changes were inevitable,” he said.
Of the five commands, there are no ongoing clashes for the Triangle Region and Eastern Central commands. The other three are engaged in fierce clashes.
The Northern Command oversees Kachin State and the Southeastern Command operates in Mon and Karen states.
The Kachin Independence Army and people’s defense forces (PDFs) are fighting the regime in Kachin State and the armed wings of the KNU and other PDFs are fighting in Mon and Karen states.
The Eastern Command oversees southern Shan State and Kayah State, where Karenni resistance forces are fighting the regime. Eastern Central Command operates in central Shan State and Triangle Region commands eastern Shan State.