Myanmar Junta Tells Troops to Be Combat Ready at All Times

By The Irrawaddy 21 August 2021

The regime’s crackdown on its opponents is expected to intensify in the coming days as the military junta has issued an order to its unit commanders and other senior officers to be combat ready. The instruction comes amid an increase in daily unrest, including killings and bombings by anti-regime civilian fighters against regime troops and their associates throughout the country. 

The order seen by The Irrawaddy was sent out to commanders last week. It was issued directly by the military’s top command in the capital, Naypyitaw.

The message to commanders also warned that terrorists “could intercept our message” and instructed that “jamming devices should be used.” The message added that troops should always remain in combat mode.

Following the coup in February, people from all walks of life opposed military rule. Young people have taken up arms after the junta’s brutal crackdowns on protesters. Since then, the regime has branded anyone who opposes it “terrorists.”

In the order, commanders were instructed to set up more checkpoints and to launch surprise checks in residential areas.

This month, bloody attacks against the regime have become more frequent across the country, including in the country’s business hub Yangon. Last week, among other attacks, four policemen were shot dead by unknown attackers on a train on Yangon’s Circular Railway, highlighting the bloody reality that civilian resistance against the junta has yet to wane, more than six months into the regime’s rule. In upper Myanmar, the regime admitted that aircraft at an airbase were damaged in attacks. The junta responded with more night raids and manhunts. This week, joint forces of police and military personnel arrested at least 15 young people in Yangon, looting goods and valuables from homes as they did so.

Some of the raids have resulted in deaths. On Aug. 10, five young people jumped from a building in Yangon to avoid being captured by junta forces. Two, including a young woman, died and three others were seriously injured and detained. The military regime said the three injured were in hospital, but family members have not been allowed to visit them.

The attacks against the junta are mostly carried out by loosely organized resistance forces, mostly known as the People’s Defense Force (PDF), in Yangon and elsewhere. They have used homemade weapons, grenades and guns. The regime has branded them “terrorists” who are destabilizing the country. 

In May, Myanmar’s junta designated the shadow National Unity Government (NUG) as a terrorist group, along with its affiliated Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), blaming it for killings, bombings and arson attacks.

The NUG subsequently established the People’s Defense Force (PDF), saying it is necessary to prevent killings and other violent acts against the people by the junta, which calls itself the State Administration Council. The NUG’s Defense Ministry said many youth members are undergoing training.

The regime is concerned about coordinated attacks in the countryside and urban areas, informed analysts and diplomats in Yangon said. Residents of Yangon said they have seen more security personnel on the streets recently, with many plainclothes soldiers and police deployed in buildings and on busy streets.

In the countryside the military’s security forces also engage in frequent clashes with PDF members and ethnic forces.

In June, to counter the increasingly frequent attacks and assassinations, the junta formed Pyu Saw Htee groups across the country, reportedly with support from the military, to counter the anti-regime movement. The first were formed in mid-May after the formation of the PDFs. 

Since the coup in February, Myanmar has been in turmoil and the junta has been unable to restore stability. So far more than 1,000 people have been killed and over 4,000 detained.

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