Monday, May 4, 2009

Armed Ceasefire Groups to be ‘Border Guard Force’

The Irrawaddy News

The Burmese military plans to incorporate armed ethnic ceasefire troops into the Tatmadaw (armed forces) to provide security along the border after the 2010 general election.

The plan would give greater control of the armed ceasefire groups to the Burmese military, according to observers.

Armed ethnic ceasefire groups first heard details of the plan during meetings with Burmese military officers on April 28.

Under the plan, one border guard battalion would have 326 troops including 18 officers. There would be three commanders with the rank of major. Each battalion would have two majors drawn from ceasefire groups and one major drawn from the Tatmadaw in charge of administration.

Each battalion would have a general staff officer and quartermaster officer with the rank of captain drawn from the Tatmadaw. Company commanders in each battalion would be drawn from ceasefire groups.

Twenty-seven soldiers in other ranks, such as company sergeant majors, sergeant clerks, nurses, etc., would be drawn from Tatmadaw forces.

Representatives of the Burmese junta told ceasefire group officials at various meetings that discussions on troop mobilization will be held at a later date. Salary and benefits for troops in the border forces would be the same as soldiers in the Tatmadaw.

In the plan’s outline, it was noted that border guard troops could only be mobilized in areas within their own territory.

The Tatmadaw will command border guard forces during the “beginning period,” according to the plan.

Ceasefire groups, including the United Wa State Army with an estimated 200,000 troops, have made no official statements in regard to the plan of incorporation.

Sources said that the military plans to form three committees to coordinate the transition of the ceasefire groups.

The Transition Policy Committee will be chaired by the commander-in-chief and the deputy commander-in-chief will be vice-chairman, and committee members will include the coordinator of special operations for the army, navy and air force, the prime minister, secretary 1, members of the junta, the State Peace and Development Council; the secretary of the committee will be the chief of Military Affairs Security and the joint-secretary will be the director of the Office of Public Relations and Border Troops.

The Transitional Working Committee will be chaired by the chief of Military Affairs Security; and made up of commanders of the Tatmadaw’s regional commands along with the deputy chief of Military Training, the vice-adjutant general and the vice-quartermaster general, the director of the People’s Militias and Psychological Warfare, the director-general of Central Military Accounts, and general staff officer 1 of the Burmese army. The director of the Public Relations and Border Troops will be the secretary of the working committee, and the general staff officer 1 from the Military Affairs Security will be joint-secretary.

Various Regional Level Transition Working Committees will be chaired by Tatmadaw regional commanders.

The current policy is related to the 2008 Constitution, which was created by the junta.

The constitution provides that in ceasefire group controlled areas, referred to as self-administered divisions or self-administered zones, the local administrative bodies can legislate for civil issues such as urban and rural projects; construction and maintenance of roads and bridges; public health; developmental affairs; prevention of fire hazards; maintenance of pastures; conservation and preservation of forests; preservation of the natural environment; water and electricity issues; and market matters relating to towns and villages.

Under the constitution, the military, dominated by the commander-in-chief, can assign duties relating to security and border affairs in self-administered zones (ceasefire areas).

One-quarter of the administrators of self-administered zones (ceasefire areas) will be made up of military officers appointed by the commander-in-chief of the Tatmadaw. (JEG's: "self-administed" under orders of the SPDC aha?)

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