‘Myanmar military in chaos,’ swift capture of strategic outpost shows

The junta military’s failure to prevent resistance forces from swiftly seizing a strategic outpost this week in northern Shan State – one that links the area with Mandalay Region – shows that it is in chaos and has become weak, resistance forces and a former Tatmadaw captain say, The Irrawaddy reports.

The commander of the outpost in Nawnghkio Township’s Thanbo village had no combat experience and neither did many of the troops he was assigned to lead.

Many of the outpost’s more than 200 troops were from combat support units and were likely trainees, said Captain Htet Myat, who defected from the junta’s military and joined the Civil Disobedience Movement in June 2021.

The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Mandalay People’s Defense Force seized the outpost, which is strategically located between Mandalay Region and northern Shan State, less than 24 hours after they began attacking it on Tuesday. They captured it at about 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

The base is about a one-hour drive from the Defense Services Academy in Mandalay Region’s Pyin Oo Lwin Township.

Among the prisoners taken was the outpost’s commander, Lt-Colonel Thet Aung, a lecturer in mechanics at the Defense Service Technological Academy.

Resistance troops said they found a wide range of uniforms and badges on those under his command. The badges and uniforms showed that the junta’s military had sent staff from its medical services, communications, and electrical and engineering units – as well as its fire department and weapons factories – to the frontline.

Moreover, the troops sent to the post were from all over Myanmar – the Northern, Southeastern, Western and Yangon commands – as well as the Defense Service Academy and Defense Service Technological Academy, resistance members said.

“It is very unusual that all these people were sent to a camp led by a lecturer who is not a combat veteran. In fact, this makes it more obvious how weakened the army is,” Captain Htet Myat told The Irrawaddy.

He said the junta troops were forcefully sent to the outpost because they were “necessary.”

A spokesman for the Mandalay PDF who uses the single name Osmand said Lt-Colonel Thet Aung had never once in his military career been sent to the frontline before being put in command of the outpost in Thanbo village.

“Neither the commander nor his troops had combat experience. They were forced to the frontline because they were needed there. This reveals how weak and chaotic the [junta’s] military is now,” Osmond added.

The outpost’s defenders were so physically and mentally weak that they seemed more eager to surrender than fight, he said.

Resistance forces also ambushed three military trucks carrying reinforcements from Kyaukme Township to the outpost on Jan. 3.

Once attacked, the reinforcements were swift to turn back and flee, resistance troops said.

“Myanmar’s military has deteriorated,” Osmond said.

Analysts say this is the result of a recruitment crisis, a high desertion rate and heavy casualties in battles across the country. To cope with its lack of troops, Myanmar’s regime has released jailed inmates to serve on the frontline. More than 600 jailed soldiers were released last month alone.

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