The Myanmar Army (Burmese:Tatmadaw Kyee) is the land component of the Military of Myanmar. The Myanmar Army is the largest branch of the Armed Forces of Myanmar and has the primary responsibility of conducting land-based military operations. The Myanmar Army maintains the second largest active force in Southeast Asia after Vietnam's Vietnam People's Army.
The Myanmar Army has a troop strength around 492,000. The army has rich combat experience in fighting insurgents in rough terrains, considering it has been conducting non-stop counter-insurgency operations against ethnic and political insurgents since its inception in 1948.
The force is headed by the Commander in Chief (Army), currently Vice Senior General Maung Aye. The highest rank in the Myanmar Army is Senior General, equivalent to Field Marshal position in Western Armies and is currently held by Senior General Than Shwe. The defence budget of the Myanmar Military is 7.07 billion US dollars.
The Army has always been by far the largest service in Myanmar and has always received the lion's share of the defence budget. It has played the most prominent part in Myanmar's struggle against the 40 or more insurgent groups since 1948 and acquired a reputation as a tough and resourceful military force. In 1981, it was described as 'probably the best [army] in Southeast Asia, apart from Vietnam's'. The judgement was echoed in 1983, when another observer noted that "Myanmar's infantry is generally rated as one of the toughest, most combat seasoned in Southeast Asia". In 1985, a foreign journalist with the rare experience of seeing Burmese soldiers in action against ethnic insurgents and narco-armies was 'thoroughly impressed by their fighting skills, endurance and discipline'. Other commentators throughout that time characterised the Myanmar Army as 'the toughest, most effective light infantry jungle force now operating in Southeast Asia'. Even the Thais, not known to praise the Burmese lightly, have described the Myanmar Army as 'skilled in the art of jungle warfare'. However, due to dwindling recruitment, the military junta has been forcing enlistment of child soldiers into the army's ranks. According to human rights groups, the Myanmar Army has the world's largest number of child soldiers.
The first army division to be formed after the 1988 military coup was the 11th Light Infantry Division (LID) in December 1988 with Col. Win Myint as commander of the division. In March 1990, a new regional military command was opened in Monywa with Brigadier Kyaw Min as commander and named North-Western RMC. A year later 101st LID was formed in Pakokku with Col. Saw Tun as commander. Two Regional Operations Commands (ROC) were formed in Myeik and Loikaw to facilitate command and control. They were commanded respectively by Brigadier Soe Tint and Brigadier Maung Kyi. March 1995 saw a dramatic expansion of the Tatmadaw as it established 11 Military Operations Commands (MOC)s in that month. MOC are similar to Mechanized Infantry Divisions in western armies, each with 10 regular infantry battalions (Chay Hlyin Tatyin), a headquarters, and organic support units including field artillery batteries. Then in 1996, two new RMC were opened, Coastal Region RMC was opened in Myeik with Brigadier Sit Maung as commander and Triangle Region RMC in Kengtung with Brigadier Thein Sein as commander. Their new ROCs were opened in Kalay, Bhamo and Mongsat. In late 1998, two new MOCs were opened in Bokepyin and Mongsat.
The most significant expansion after the infantry in the army was in armour and artillery. Beginning in 1990, the Tatmadaw procured 18 T-69II tanks and 48 T-63 amphibious light tanks from China. Further procurements were made, including several hundred Type 85 and Type 92 armoured personnel carriers (APC). By the beginning of 1998, Tatmadaw had about 100+ T-68II main battle tanks, a similar number of T-63 amphibious light tanks and several T-59D tanks. These tanks and armoured personnel carriers were distributed into five armoured infantry battalions and five tank battalions and formed the first Armoured Division of the Tatmadaw under the name of 71st Armoured Operations Command with its headquarters in Pyawbwe.
By 2000, the Myanmar Army had reached some 370,000 all ranks. There were 337 infantry battalions, including 266 light infantry battalions. Although the Myanmar Army's organisational structure was based upon the regimental system, the basic manoeuvre and fighting unit is the battalion, known as Tat Yin in Burmese, which comprised a headquarters unit; four rifle companies (tat khwe) with three rifle platoons (Tat Su) each; an administration company with medical, transport, logistics and signals units; a heavy weapons company including mortar, machine gun and recoilless gun platoons. Each battalion is commanded a Lieutenant Colonel (du bo hmu gyi) with a Major (bo hmu) as 2IC (Second in Command), with a total establishment strength of 27 officers and 723 other ranks. Light infantry battalions in Myanmar Army have much lower establishment strength of around 500; as a result this often leads to these units being mistakenly identified by the observers and reporters as under strength infantry battalions.
With its significantly increased personnel numbers, weaponry and mobility, today's Tatmadaw Kyee is a formidable conventional defence force for the Union of Myanmar. Troops ready for combat duty have at least doubled since 1988. Logistics infrastructure and Artillery Fire Support has been greatly increased. Its newly acquired military might was apparent in the Tatmadaw's dry season operations against Karen National Union (KNU) strongholds in Manerplaw and Kawmura. Most of the casualties at these battles were the result of intense and heavy bombardment by the Tatmadaw Kyee. Not only that Tatmadaw Kyee is now much larger than it was in pre-1988, it is more mobile and has greatly improved armour, artillery and air defence inventories. Its C3I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence) systems have been expanded and refined. It is developing larger and more integrated, self-sustained formations which should lend themselves to better coordinated action by different combat arms. The army may still have relatively modest weaponry compared to its larger neighbours, but it is now in a much better position to deter external aggression and respond to such a threat should it ever arise.
Until 1990, Myanmar Armed Forces has Chief of Staff system and Myanmar Army was led by Vice Chief of Staff (Army). In 1990, Myanmar Armed Forces was reorganized and all three branches of Armed Forces are now led by Commander-in-Chief.
Bureau of Special Operations in Myanmar Army are high-level field units equivalent to Field Army Group in Western terms and consist of 2 or more Regional Military Commands (RMC) and commanded by a Lieutenant-General and 6 staff officers. Currently there are five Bureaus of Special Operations in Myanmar order of Battle.
|BSO||Regional Military Commands|
|Bureau of Special Operations 1||Central Command
North Western Command
|Bureau of Special Operations 2||North Eastern Command
Triangle Region Command
|Bureau of Special Operations 3||South Western Command
|Bureau of Special Operations 4||Coastal Command
South Eastern Command
|Bureau of Special Operations 5||Yangon Command|
|Bureau of Special Operations 6||Naypyidaw Command|
For better command and communication, the Tatmadaw formed Regional Military Commands (Tine Sit Htar Na Choke) structure in 1958. Until 1961, there were only two regional commands, they were supported by 13 Infantry brigades and an infantry division. In October 1961, new regional military commands were opened and leaving only two brigades. In June 1963, the Naypyidaw Command was temporarily formed in Yangon with the deputy commander and some staff officers drawn from Central Command. It was reorganised and renamed as Yangon Command on 1 June 1965.
A total of 337 infantry and light infantry battalions organised in Tactical Operations Commands, 37 independent field artillery regiments supported by affiliated support units including armoured reconnaissance and tank battalions. RMCs are similar to corps formations in Western armies. The RMCs, commanded by Major-General rank officer, are managed through a framework of Bureau of Special Operations (BSOs), which are equivalent to Field Army Group in Western terms. Currently there are five Bureaus of Special Operations in the Tatmadaw's order of battle.
|Kachin State||Myitkyina||33 Infantry Battalions|
|North Eastern Command
|Northern Shan State||Lashio||30 Infantry Battalions|
|Southern Shan State||Taunggyi||42 Infantry Battalions
including 16× Light Infantry Battalions under
Regional Operation Command (ROC) Headquarters at Loikaw
|South Eastern Command
|Mon and Kayin (Karen) States||Mawlamyaing (Moulmein)||36 Infantry Battalions|
|Bago and Magwe Divisions||Toungoo||27 × Infantry Battalions|
|South Western Command
|Ayeyarwady Division (Irrawaddy Division)||Pathein (Bassein)||11 × Infantry Battalions|
|Rakhine (Arakan) and Chin States||Ann||33 × Infantry Battalions|
|North Western Command
|Sagaing Division||Monywa||25 × Infantry Battalions|
|Yangon Division||Mayangone Township-Kone-Myint-Thar||12 × Infantry Battalions|
|Coastal Region Command
|Tanintharyi Division (Tenassarim Division)||Myeik (Mergui)||43 Infantry Battalions
including battalions under 2 MOC based at Tavoy
|Triangle Region Command
|Eastern Shan State||Kyaingtong (Kengtung)||28 Infantry Battalions|
|Mandalay Division||Mandalay||17 Infantry Battalions|
|Naypyidaw||Pyinmana||Formed in 2006 - ? × Infantry Battalions|
Commanders of Regional Military Commands
Military Operations Commands (MOC, or Sa Ka Kha), commanded by a Brigadier-General, are similar to infantry divisions in Western Armies. Each consists of 10 Infantry battalions (Chay Hlyin Tatyin), HQ and organic support units including field artillery batteries.
While the MOC is equivalent to the LID, as both command ten battalions, the ROC is much smaller in size, with only four battalions, thus ROC is the regimental level with a brigadier general as commander. ROC is a position between LID/MOC commander and tactical Operation Command (TOC) commander, who commands only three infantry battalions.
But, the ROC commander enjoys financial, administrative and judicial authority while the MOC commander does not have judicial authority.
Light Infantry Division (Chay Myan Tat Ma), commanded by a Brigadier-General, each with 10 Light Infantry Battalions organised under 3 Tactical Operations Commands, commanded by a Colonel, (3 battalions each and 1 reserve), 1 Field Artillery Battalion, 1 Armour Squadron and other support units.
These divisions were first introduced to the Myanmar Army in 1966 as rapid reaction mobile forces for strike operations. 77th Light Infantry Division was formed on 6 June 1966, followed by 88th Light Infantry Division and 99th Light Infantry Division in the two following years. 77th LID was largely responsible for the defeat of the Communist forces of the CPB (Communist Party of Burma) based in the forested hills of the central Bago Yoma in the mid 1970s. Three more LIDs were raised in the latter half of 1970s (the 66th, 55th and 44th) with their headquarters at Pyay, Aungban and Thaton. They were followed by another two LIDs in the period prior to the 1988 military coup (the 33rd LID with headquarters at Sagaing and the 22nd LID with headquarters at Hpa-An). 11th LID was formed in December 1988 with headquarters at Inndine, Bago Division and 101st LID was formed in 1991 with its headquarters at Pakokku.
Each LID, commanded by Brigadier General (Bo hmu gyoke) level officers, consists of 10 light infantry battalions specially trained in counter-insurgency and jungle warfare, for "search and destroy" operations against ethnic insurgents and narcotics-based armies. These battalions are organised under three Tactical Operations Commands (TOC; Sit byu har) and Each TOC, commanded by Colonel (Bo hmu gyi), is made up of three or more combat battalions, with command and support elements similar to that of brigades in Western armies. One battalion was held in reserve. As of 2000, all LID have their organic Field Artillery units. For example, 314th Field Artillery Battery is now attached to 44th LID. Some of the LID battalions have been given Parachute and Air Borne Operations training and two of the LIDs have been converted to mechanised infantry formation with divisional artillery, armoured reconnaissance and tank battalions
LIDs are considered to be a strategic asset of the Myanmar Army, and after the 1990 reorganisation and restructuring of the Tatmadaw command structure, they are now directly answerable to Chief of Staff (Army).
|LID||Year formed||Place formed||Current Commander|
|11th LID||1988||Inndine, Bago Division|
The Air Defence Command was formed during the late 1990s but was not fully operational until 1999. In early 2000, Tatmadaw established Myanmar Integrated Air Defence System (MIADS) with help from Russia, Ukraine and China. All AD assets except Anti-Aircraft Artillery within Tatmadaw arsenal are integrated into MIADS.
Under MIADS, the country was divided into six Air Defense sectors, each controlled by a Sector Operations Center (SOC) and reporting to the National Air Defense Operations Center (ADOC) in Yangon.Each SOC transmitted data back to Intercept Operations Centers (IOC), which in turn controlled SAM batteries and fighter/interceptor squadrons at Air Bases. Each IOC was optimized to direct either SAMs or fighter/interceptor aircraft against incoming enemy aircraft or missile. Each IOC was connected to observer and early warning area reporting posts (RP) via fibre optic cable network. There were about 100 radars located at approximately 40 sites throughout the country. New AD radars such as 1L117 radars, Galaxy Early Warning Radar and P series radars are installed in all radar stations.
The six Sector Operations Centers (SOCs) of MIADS are as follow:-
Artillery and armoured units were not used in an independent role, but were deployed in support of the infantry by the Ministry of Defence as required. The Directorate of Artillery and Armour Corps was also divided into separate corps in 2001, and the Office of Chief of Air Defense was created. A dramatic expansion of forces under these directorates followed with the equipment procured from China, Russia, Ukraine and India.
As of 2000, the Armour and Artillery wing of the Tatmadaw has about 60 battalions and 37 independent artillery companies/batteries attached to various regional commands, LIDs, MOCs and ROCs. For example, 314th Field Artillery Battery is under 44th LID, 326 Field Artillery Battery is attached to 5th MOC, 074 Field Artillery Battery is under ROC (Bhamo) and 076 Field Artillery Battery is under North-Eastern RMC. Twenty of these Artillery battalions are grouped under 707th Artillery Operation Command (AOC) headquarters in Kyaukpadaung and 808th Artillery Operation Command (AOC) headquarters in Oaktwin, near Taungoo. The remaining 30 battalions, including 7 Anti-Aircraft artillery battalions are under the Directorate of Armour and Artillery (DAA).
Since 2000, the Directorate of Artillery Corps has overseen the expansion of Artillery Operational Commands(AOC) from two to 10 or more. Tatmadaw's stated intention is to establish an AOC in each of the 12 Regional Military Commands. Each AOC is composed of an HQ battalion and 13 Artillery batteries; 9 Field Artillery Batteries,1 Medium Artillery Battery, 1 Rocket Artillery Battery, 1 TAB and supporting units.
Armoured divisions were expanded in number from one to two, each with ten armoured battalions (five equipped with tanks and five with IFVs and APCs). In mid-2003, Tamadaw acquired 139+ T-72 Main Battle Tanks from Ukraine and signed a contract to build and equip a factory in Myanmar to produce and assemble 1,000 BTR armored personnel carriers (APCs) in 2004. In 2006, the Indian Government transferred an unspecified number of T-55 Main Battle Tanks that were being phased out from active service to Tatmadaw along with 105 mm Light Field Guns, armoured personnel carriers and indigenous HAL Light Attack Helicopters in return for Tatmadaw’s full cooperation in flushing out Indian insurgent groups operating from its soil.
Since 2000, the Directorate of Artillery Corps has overseen the massive expansion of Artillery Operational Commands(AOC). Artillery Operations Commands are equivalent to Artillery Divisions in western term. Currently there are 10 AOCs in Tatmadaw order of battle. Tatmadaw's stated intention is to establish an AOC in each of the 12 Regional Military Commands.
Each AOC is composed of the following:
Light field artillery battalions consists of 3 field artillery batteries with 36 field guns or howitzers (12 guns per battery). Medium artillery battalions consists of 3 medium artillery batteries of 18 field guns or howitzers (6 guns per one battery).
Armour Operations Commands are equivalent to Independent Armour Divisions in western term. Currently there are 5 ArOCs in Tatmadaw order of battle. Tatmadaw is to establish an ArOC in 7 of the 12 Regional Military Commands.
Each ArOC is composed of ArOC HQs, three tank regiments, three AFV regiments, one artillery regiment and one support regiment. Support regiment also composed of an engineer squadron, two logistic squadrons and a signal company. However some ArOC have only two tank regiments.
Myanmar Army has taken delivery of 150 EE-9 Cascavels from Israeli army(?) surplus in 2005. Although EE 9 are armoured reconnaissance vehicle, Myanmar Army categorized them as light tank and deploys them in eastern Shan State and triangle regions near Thai-Myanmar border.
|Myanmar Army statistics|
|Regional Military Commands||13|
|Infantry Divisions||30 (10 LID and 20 MOC)|
The various rank of the Myanmar Army are listed below in descending order:
Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs)
|Main Battle Tanks|
|T-55||Soviet Union ( India)||230||Delivered by India|
|T-72S||Soviet Union ( Ukraine)||150||Delivered by Ukraine|
|Comet||United Kingdom||22||World War II vintage|
|Armoured Fighting Vehicles|
|BTR-3U||Ukraine||1,000||To be assembled locally until 2013|
|Dingo Scout Car||United Kingdom||50||World War II vintage|
|EE-9 Cascavel||Brazil ( Israel)||200||Delivered by Israel|
|Ferret Scout Car||United Kingdom||6|
|Humber Pig||United Kingdom||40|
|MAV-1||Myanmar||72||Locally manufactured Infantry fighting vehicle|
|Panhard AML 90||France ( Israel)||50+||Delivered by Israel|
|Universal Carrier||United Kingdom||80||World War II vintage|
|Nora B-52||Serbia||30||152 mm self-propelled howitzer|
|75mm field guns||United Kingdom||80||World War II vintage 122 mm howitzer|
|BL 5.5 inch Medium Gun||United Kingdom||230||World War II vintage 140 mm howitzer|
|D-30M||Soviet Union||270||122 mm howitzer|
|KH-179||South Korea||100+||155 mm howitzer|
|M48 mountain gun||Yugoslavia||100||76 mm mountain gun|
|M-845P||Israel||16||155 mm howitzer|
|Ordnance QF 25 pounder||United Kingdom||50||World War II vintage 87.6 mm howitzer|
|Type 59-1||China||160||130 mm field gun|
|Various 105 mm howitzers||Various||340+||Types: L118, M101, M56 and others|
|Multiple rocket launchers|
|M-1991||DPRK||90||240 mm multiple rocket launcher (self-propelled)|
|Type 90B||China||90||122 mm multiple rocket launcher (self-propelled)|
|Type 90||China||90||122 mm multiple rocket launcher (self-propelled)|
|BM-21||Soviet Union||190||122 mm multiple rocket launcher (self-propelled)|
|Type 63||China||48||107 mm multiple rocket launcher (towed)|
|BA-84||Myanmar||70||122 mm multiple rocket launcher (towed)|
[[Type-95 (anti-aircraft system)
|Bristol Bloodhound||United Kingdom||20|
|S-75 Dvina (SA-2 Guideline)||Soviet Union ( Russia)||48||Long-range surface-to-air missile system|
|2K12 Kub (SA-6 Gainful)||Soviet Union ( Russia)||40||Self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile system|
|9K37 Buk-M1-2 (SA-11 Gadfly)||Soviet Union ( Russia)||48||Self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile system|
|9K331M Tor-M1 (SA-15 Gauntlet)||Soviet Union ( Russia)||70||Self-propelled, short-range surface-to-air missile system|
|2K22 Tunguska M-1 (SA-19 Grison)||Soviet Union ( Russia)||50||Self-propelled, short-range surface-to-air gun and missile system|
|9K38 Igla (SA-18 Grouse)||Soviet Union ( Russia)||400||Very short-range portable surface-to-air missile system (MANPADS)|
|CPMIEC HN5||China ( Myanmar)||200||Very short-range portable surface-to-air missile system (MANPADS)|
|Type 56||China||580||14.5 mm heavy machine gun in quadruple mounts|
|Various anti-aircraft guns||Various||340||37 mm /40 mm /57 mm|
|Various mortars||Various||400+||60 mm / 82 mm / 120 mm|
Rocket Launchers and Recoilless Guns
Heavy Machine Guns
General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMG) The typical section support weapon before 1988 Tatmadaw modernisation programme was the locally-manufactured 7.62 mm BA64 Light Machine Gun (LMG). This was essentially the G3 assault rifle fitted with heavy barrel and bipod. The G4 replaced the British 0.30in Bren LMG. Company fire support generally consisted of German-designed 7.62 mm MG3 general purpose machine guns (made in Myanmar's own Ka Pa Sa factories) and the Belgian 7.62 mm FN MAG GPMG.
Assault Rifles Before 1988, the standard Myanmar infantry weapon was the 7.62 mm BA-63 assault rifle, a locally-produced version of the Heckler & Koch G3. Myanmar also produced a shorter, lighter carbine version of the same rifle under the designation BA-72, simply known as the G2. A third version of the G3, known as the BA-100, was more accurate and reliable, but was primarily used as a sniper's weapon. Many soldiers, mainly officers and NCO, still carried 0.30 calibre M1 and M2 carbines provided by the US in the 1950s under the Military Assistance Programme (MAP). These world war two vintage carbines are ideal for jungle warfare.
From the beginning of 2002, 7.62 mm BA series rifles have been gradually replaced by 5.56 mm MA-series assault rifles in Myanmar Army's frontline units, tested earlier as the EMERK-3. MA-series assault rifles are similar to Israeli GALIL rifle and fire 5.56 mm NATO rounds. As side-arm, officers used 9 mm Browning High Power/FN-35 semi-automatic pistol locally manufactured under license by Ka Pa Sa.
Picture of BA94 and BA63 
Before 1988, Myanmar Army had less than 2000 military trucks in their inventory, bulk of them are locally assembled 6 ton 4x2 Hino TE 11/21 trucks, and they had to rely on civil transport systems. After the 1988 military coup, with the starting of the defence modernization programme, Myanmar started to acquire hundreds of logistic vehicle mainly from China. In 1992, Myanmar Army bought 4000 6 ton 4x2 FAW and Dongfeng EQ1093 trucks form China and delivery completed in 1995. However due to maintenance problems with the earlier TE 11 and 21, Myanmar Army again signed contract with China to buy 4000 Jiefang CA1091 4x2 5 ton trucks.
Again in 1997, Myanmar Army acquired 1000 Dongfeng EQ2102 3.5 tonne 6X6 military utility trucks and 200 Shaanqi SX 2190 6X6 military utility trucks for newly formed artillery units for towing guns. However during border clashes with neighbouring Thailand in 2002, Myanmar Army found difficulties with the existing 4x2 military trucks and then they acquired 3000 Dongfeng EQ2102 3.5 tonne 6X6 military utility trucks. These trucks were delivered at China-Myanmar border town of Shwe Li between 2003 and 2006. In 2007 November, China has agreed to supply another 1500 EQ2102 3.5 tonne 6x6 military utility trucks to Myanmar Military. As part of that agreement Myanmar has taken delivery of first batch of 350 EQ 2102 trucks in 2008 April and 650 trucks are to deliver in June. 
Myanmar ordinance factories started assembling Chinese Aeolus 4x2 6 tonne light utility military trucks in 1997.
Command and control system of Myanmar Army has been substantially upgraded by setting up the military fibre optic communication network through out the country. Since 2002 all Myanmar Army regional and divisional command HQs used its own telecommunication system. Satellite communications is also provided to forward-deployed infantry battalions. However, battle field communication systems are still poor. Infantry units are still using TRA 906 and PRM 4051 which were acquired from UK in 1980s. Myanmar Army also uses Thura (locally built TRA 906) and XD-D6M (Chinese) radio sets. Frequency hopping handsets are fitted to all front line units.