On This Day

The Day Gen Aung San Established the Myanmar Army

By Wei Yan Aung 7 September 2019

YANGON—On this day 74 years ago, Myanmar’s independence hero General Aung San and Louis Mountbatten, the Supreme Allied Commander of South East Asia Command (SEAC), signed an agreement in the Sri Lankan city of Kandy that would shape the future Myanmar army.

The UK, which planned to continue its rule in Myanmar after World War II, wanted to disband the Patriotic Burmese Forces (PBF) and Burmese guerrilla troops. But Myanmar leaders resisted the plan.

Concerned that an armed insurgency in Myanmar would spread to other countries, the British held a conference in Kandy, the headquarters of the SEAC.

The Kandy Agreement determined that 5,200 troops and 200 officers of the PBF would be accepted as the core of the regular Myanmar army, which would be gradually transformed into professional armed forces. The British also gave official “war credit” to Burmese resistance fighters.

The official Myanmar army did not clash with the British in its independence struggle. But it did engage in the civil war that erupted after independence in 1948. The army was venerated as a national protector after it successfully repulsed the Kuomintang invasion.

Its reputation was tarnished when its then chief, General Ne Win, staged a coup in 1962. Myanmar then spiraled into poverty and became a least developed country due to mismanagement and political repression.

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