Myanmar Army

The Myanmar Army (Burmese: တပ်မတော်(ကြည်း), pronounced [taʔmədɔ̀ tɕí]) is the largest branch of the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar (Burma) and has the primary responsibility of conducting land-based military operations. The Myanmar Army maintains the second largest active force in Southeast Asia after the People's Army of Vietnam.

Myanmar Army
Army Flag of Myanmar.svg
The Myanmar Army's flag
Founded1945; 76 years ago (1945)
CountryMyanmar (Burma)
TypeGround army
Size406,000[1] Reserve:Border Guard Force BGF (23 battalions), People's Militia Group PMG (46 groups),[2] University Training Corp UTC (5 corps)[3]
Part ofMyanmar Armed Forces
Nickname(s)Tatmadaw Kyi
Anniversaries27 March 1945
EngagementsInternal conflict in Myanmar
Commander-in-ChiefVice Senior General Soe Win
Major General Aung San
General Ne Win
Senior General Than Shwe
Vice-Senior General Maung Aye

The Myanmar Army had a troop strength of around 350,000 as of 2006.[4] The army has extensive combat experience in fighting insurgents in rough terrain, 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 of Myanmar Army (ကာကွယ်ရေးဦးစီးချုပ်(ကြည်း)), currently Vice-Senior General Soe Win, concurrently Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services (ဒုတိယ တပ်မတော်ကာကွယ်ရေးဦးစီးချုပ်), with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing as the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services (တပ်မတော်ကာကွယ်ရေးဦးစီးချုပ်). The highest rank in the Myanmar Army is Senior General, equivalent to field marshal in Western armies and is currently held by Min Aung Hlaing after being promoted from Vice-Senior General.

In 2011, following a transition from military government to civilian parliamentary government, the Myanmar Army imposed a military draft on all citizens: all males from age 18 to 35 and all females from 18 to 27 years of age can be drafted into military service for two years as enlisted personnel in time of national emergency. The ages for professionals are up to 45 for men and 35 for women for three years service as commissioned and non-commissioned officers.

The Government Gazette reported that 1.8 trillion kyat (about US$2 billion), or 23.6 percent of the 2011 budget was for military expenditures.[5]

Brief historyEdit

British and Japanese ruleEdit

In the late 1930s, during the period of British rule, a few Myanmar organizations or parties formed an alliance named Burma's Htwet-Yet (Liberation) Group, one of them being Dobama Asiayone. Since most of the members were Communist, they wanted help from Chinese Communists; but when Tha-khin Aung San and a partner secretly went to China for help, they only met with a Japanese general and made an alliance with Japanese Army. In the early 1940s, Aung San and other 29 participants secretly went for the military training under Japanese Army and these 30 people are later known as the 30 Soldiers in Myanmar history and can be regarded as the origin of modern Myanmar Army.

When the Japanese invasion of Burma was ready, the 30 Soldiers recruited Myanmar people in Thailand and founded Burmese Independence Army (BIA), which was the first phase of Myanmar Army. In 1942, BIA assisted Japanese Army in their conquest of Burma, which succeeded. After that, Japanese Army changed BIA to Burmese Defense Army (BDA), which was the second phase. In 1943, Japan officially declared Burma an independent nation, but the Burmese government did not possess the de facto rule over the country.

While assisting British Army in 1945, Myanmar Army was in its third phase, which was the Patriotic Burmese Force (PBF), and the country became under British rule again. Afterwards, the structure of the army became under British authority; hence, for those who were willing to serve the nation but not in that army, General Aung San organized People's Comrade.

Post-Independence eraEdit

Myanmar Army Honour Guards saluting the arrival of the Thai delegation in October 2010

At the time of Myanmar's independence in 1948, the Tatmadaw was weak, small and disunited. Cracks appeared along the lines of ethnic background, political affiliation, organisational origin and different services. Its unity and operational efficiency was further weakened by the interference of civilians and politicians in military affairs, and the perception gap between the staff officers and field commanders. The most serious problem was the tension between ethnic Karen Officers, coming from the British Burma Army and Bamar officers, coming from the Patriotic Burmese Forces (PBF).[citation needed]

In accordance with the agreement reached at Kandy Conference in September 1945, the Tatmadaw was reorganised by incorporating the British Burma Army and the Patriotic Burmese Forces. The officer corps shared by ex-PBF officers and officers from British Burma Army and Army of Burma Reserve Organisation (ARBO). The colonial government also decided to form what were known as "Class Battalions" based on ethnicity. There were a total of 15 rifle battalions at the time of independence and four of them were made up of former members of PBF. All influential positions within the War Office and commands were manned with non-former PBF Officers. All services including military engineers, supply and transport, ordnance and medical services, Navy and Air Force were all commanded by former officers from ABRO and British Burma Army.[citation needed]

Ethnic and Army composition of Tatmadaw in 1948
Battalion Ethnic/Army composition
No. 1 Burma Rifles Bamar (Burma Military Police)
No. 2 Burma Rifles Karen majority + other Non-Bamar Nationalities [commanded by then Lieutenant Colonel Saw Chit Khin [Karen officer from British Burma Army])
No. 3 Burma Rifles Bamar / former members of Patriotic Burmese Forces
No. 4 Burma Rifles Bamar / former members of Patriotic Burmese Force – Commanded by the then Lieutenant Colonel Ne Win
No. 5 Burma Rifles Bamar / former members of Patriotic Burmese Force
No. 6 Burma Rifles Bamar / former members of Patriotic Burmese Force
No. 1 Karen Rifles Karen / former members of British Burma Army and ABRO
No. 2 Karen Rifles Karen / former members of British Burma Army and ABRO
No. 3 Karen Rifles Karen / former members of British Burma Army and ABRO
No. 1 Kachin Rifles Kachin / former members of British Burma Army and ABRO
No. 2 Kachin Rifles Kachin / former members of British Burma Army and ABRO
No. 1 Chin Rifles Chin / former members of British Burma Army and ABRO
No. 2 Chin Rifles Chin / former members of British Burma Army and ABRO
No. 4 Burma Regiment Gurkha
Chin Hill Battalion Chin

Formation and structureEdit

The army has always been by far the largest service in Myanmar and has always received the lion's share of the defence budget.[6][7] 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'.[8] 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".[9] 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".[10] Other observers during that period characterised the Myanmar Army as "the toughest, most effective light infantry jungle force now operating in Southeast Asia".[11] Even the Thai people, not known to praise the Burmese lightly, have described the Myanmar Army as "skilled in the art of jungle warfare".[12]


The Myanmar Army had reached some 370,000 active troops of all ranks in 2000. There were 337 infantry battalions, including 266 light infantry battalions as of 2000. 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 Yinn ((တပ်ရင်း)) in Burmese. This is composed of a headquarters unit; five rifle companies Tat Khwe ((တပ်ခွဲ)) with three rifle platoons Tat Su ((တပ်စု)) each; an administrative company with medical, transport, logistics, and signals units; a heavy weapons company including mortar, machine gun, and recoilless gun platoons. Each battalion is commanded by a lieutenant colonel Du Ti Ya Bo Hmu Gyi or Du Bo Hmu Gyi with a major (bo hmu) as second in command, with a total strength of 27 officers and 723 other ranks. Light infantry battalions in the Myanmar Army have much lower establishment strength of around 500; this often leads to these units being mistakenly identified by observers as under-strength infantry battalions.

With its significantly increased personnel numbers, weaponry, and mobility, today's Tatmadaw Kyee (တပ်မတော်(ကြည်း)) 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 have 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. The Tatmadaw Kyee is now much larger than it was before 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 to improve 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, although child soldiers may not perform very well in combating with enemies.[13]


The first army division to be formed after the 1988 military coup was the 11th Light Infantry Division (LID) in December 1988 with Colonel Win Myint as commander. In March 1990, a new regional military command was created in Monywa with Brigadier Kyaw Min as commander and named the North-Western Regional Military Command. A year later, 101st LID was formed in Pakokku with Colonel Saw Tun as commander. Two Regional Operations Commands (ROC) were formed in Myeik and Loikaw to improve 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 mechanised infantry divisions in Western armies, each with 10 regular infantry battalions (Chay Hlyin Tatyin), a headquarters, and organic support units including field artillery. 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. Three new ROCs were created in Kalay, Bhamo and Mongsat. In late 1998, two new MOCs were created in Bokepyin and Mongsat.[14]

The most significant expansion after the infantry in the army was in armour and artillery. Beginning in 1990, the Tatmadaw procured 18 T-69II main battle 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-69II 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 throughout five armoured infantry battalions and five tank battalions and formed the first armoured division of the Tatmadaw as the 71st Armoured Operations Command with its headquarters in Pyawbwe.

Bureau of Special Operations (BSO)Edit

Bureau of Special Operations
Regional Military Commands (RMC)

The Bureau of Special Operations (ကာကွယ်ရေးဌာန စစ်ဆင်ရေး အထူးအဖွဲ့) in the Myanmar Army are high-level field units equivalent to field armies in Western terms and consist of two or more regional military commands (RMC) commanded by a lieutenant general and six staff officers.

The units were introduced under the General Staff Office on 28 April 1978 and 1 June 1979. In early 1978, the Chairman of BSPP, General Ne Win, visited the North Eastern Command Headquarters in Lashio to receive a briefing about Burmese Communist Party (BCP) insurgents and their military operations. He was accompanied by Brigadier General Tun Ye from the Ministry of Defence. Brigadier General Tun Ye was the regional commander of the Eastern Command for three years and before that he served in North Eastern Command areas as commander of Strategic Operation Command (SOC) and commander of Light Infantry Divisions for four years. As BCP military operations were spread across three Regional Military Command (RMC) areas (Northern, Eastern, and North Eastern), Brigadier General Tun Ye was the most informed commander about the BCP in the Myanmar Army at the time. At the briefing, General Ne Win was impressed by Brigadier General Tun Ye and realised that co-ordination among various Regional Military Commands (RMC) was necessary; thus, decided to form a bureau at the Ministry of Defence.

Originally, the bureau was for "special operations", wherever they were, that needed co-ordination among various Regional Military Commands (RMC). Later, with the introduction of another bureau, there was a division of command areas. The BSO-1 was to oversee the operations under the Northern Command, North Eastern Command, the Eastern Command, and the North Western Command. BSO-2 was to oversee operations under the South Eastern Command, South Western Command, Western Command and Central Command.

Initially, the chief of the BSO had the rank of brigadier general. The rank was upgraded to major general on 23 April 1979. In 1990, it was further upgraded to lieutenant general. Between 1995 and 2002, Chief of Staff (Army) jointly held the position of Chief of BSO. However, in early 2002, two more BSO were added to the General Staff Office; therefore there were altogether four BSOs. The fifth BSO was established in 2005 and the sixth in 2007.

Currently there are six Bureaus of Special Operations in the Myanmar order of battle.[15]

Bureau of Special Operations Regional Military Commands (RMC) Chief of Bureau of Special Operations Notes
Bureau of Special Operations 1 Central Command
North Western Command
Northern Command
Lt. Gen. Tay Zar Kyaw
Bureau of Special Operations 2 North Eastern Command
Eastern Command
Triangle Region Command
Eastern Central Command
Lt. Gen. Aung Zaw Aye
Bureau of SpeciAual Operations 3 South Western Command
Southern Command
Western Command
Lt. Gen. Phone Myat
Bureau of Special Operations 4 Coastal Command
South Eastern Command
Lt. Gen. Aung Soe
Bureau of Special Operations 5 Yangon Command Lt. Gen. Thet Pone
Bureau of Special Operations 6 Naypyidaw Command Lt. Gen. Than Hlaing

Regional Military Commands (RMC)Edit

For better command and communication, the Tatmadaw formed a Regional Military Commands (တိုင်း စစ်ဌာနချုပ်) 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 independent infantry 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.[citation needed]

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, are managed through a framework of Bureau of Special Operations (BSOs), which are equivalent to field army group in Western terms.[citation needed]

Regional Military Command (RMC) Badge States & Divisions Headquarters Strength
Northern Command


  Kachin State Myitkyina 32 Infantry Battalions
North Eastern Command


  Northern Shan State Lashio 30 Infantry Battalions
Eastern Command


  Southern Shan State and Kayah State Taunggyi 42 Infantry Battalions
including 16× Light Infantry Battalions under
Regional Operation Command (ROC) Headquarters at Loikaw
South Eastern Command


  Mon State and Kayin State Mawlamyine 40 × Infantry Battalions
Southern Command


  Bago and Magwe Divisions Toungoo 27 × Infantry Battalions
Western Command


Rakhine State and Chin State Ann 31 × Infantry Battalions
South Western Command


  Ayeyarwady Division (Irrawaddy Division) Pathein (Bassein) 11 × Infantry Battalions
North Western Command


  Sagaing Division Monywa 25 × Infantry Battalions
Yangon Command


  Yangon Division Mayangone Township-Kone-Myint-Thar 11 × 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) 23 Infantry Battalions
Central Command


  Mandalay Division Mandalay 31 Infantry Battalions
Naypyidaw Command


  Naypyidaw Pyinmana Formed in 2006 – ? × Infantry Battalions
Eastern Central Command


  Middle Shan State Namsang Formed in 2011 – 7 × Infantry Battalions

Commanders of Regional Military CommandsEdit

Regional Military Command (RMC) Established First Commander Current Commander Notes
Eastern Command 1961 Brigadier General San Yu Brigadier General Ni Lin Aung Initially in 1961, San Yu was appointed as Commander of Eastern Command but was moved to NW Command and replaced with Col. Maung Shwe then.
South Eastern Command 1961 Brigadier General Sein Win Major General Ko Ko Maung In 1961 when SE Command was formed, Sein Win was transferred from former Southern Command but was moved to Central Command and replaced with Thaung Kyi then.
Central Command 1961 Colonel Thaung Kyi Major General Ko Ko Oo Original NW Command based at Mandalay was renamed Central Command in March 1990 and original Central Command was renamed Southern Command
North Western Command 1961 Brigadier General Kyaw Min Brigadier General Phyo Thant Southern part of original North western Command in Mandalay was renamed Central Command in March 1990 and northern part of original NW Command was renamed NW Command in 1990.
South Western Command 1961 Colonel Kyi Maung Major General Aung Aung Kyi Maung was sacked in 1963 and was imprisoned a few times. He became Deputy Chairman of NLD in the 1990s.
Yangon Command 1969 Colonel Thura Kyaw Htin Major General Nyunt Win Swe Formed as Naypyidaw Command in 1963 with deputy commander and some staff officers from Central Command. Reformed and renamed Yangon Command on 1 June 1969.
Western Command 1969 Colonel Hla Tun Major General Htin Latt Oo
North Eastern Command 1972 Colonel Aye Ko Brigadier General Naing Naing Oo
Northern Command 1947 Brigadier Ne Win Brigadier General Myat Thet Oo Original Northern Command was divided into Eastern Command and NW Command in 1961. Current Northern Command was formed in 1969 as a part of reorganisation and is formed northern part of previous NW Command
Southern Command 1947 Brigadier Saw Kya Doe Brigadier General Htein Win Original Southern Command in Mandalay was renamed Central Command in March 1990
Triangle Region Command 1996 Brigadier General Thein Sein Brigadier General Myo Min Tun Thein Sein later became Prime Minister and elected as president in 2011
Coastal Region Command 1996 Brigadier General Thiha Thura Thura Sit Maung Major General Saw Than Hlaing
Naypyidaw Command 2005 Brigadier Wei Lwin Major General Zaw Hein
Eastern Central Command 2011 Brigadier Mya Tun Oo Brigadier General Hla Moe

Regional Operations Commands (ROC)Edit

Regional Operations Commands (ROC) (ဒေသကွပ်ကဲမှု စစ်ဌာနချုပ်) are commanded by a brigadier general, are similar to infantry brigades in Western Armies. Each consists of 4 Infantry battalions (Chay Hlyin Tatyin), HQ and organic support units. Commander of ROC is a position between LID/MOC commander and tactical Operation Command (TOC) commander, who commands three infantry battalions. The ROC commander holds financial, administrative and judicial authority while the MOC and LID commanders do not have judicial authority.[7][16]

Regional Operation Command (ROC) Headquarters Notes
Loikaw Regional Operations Command Loikaw (လွိုင်ကော်) Kayah State
Laukkai Regional Operations Command Laukkai (လောက်ကိုင်), Shan State
Kalay Regional Operations Command Kalay (ကလေး), Sagaing Division
Sittwe Regional Operations Command Sittwe (စစ်တွေ), Yakhine State
Pyay Regional Operations Command Pyay (ပြည်), Bago Division
Tanaing Regional Operations Command Tanaing (တနိုင်း), Kachin State Formerly ROC Bhamo
Wanhseng Regional Operations Command Wanhseng, Shan State Formed in 2011[17]

Military Operations Commands (MOC)Edit

Military Operations Commands (MOC) (စစ်ဆင်ရေးကွပ်ကဲမှုဌာနချုပ်), commanded by a brigadier-general are similar to Infantry Divisions in Western Armies. Each consists of 10 Mechanised Infantry battalions equipped with BTR-3 armoured personnel carriers, Headquarters and support units including field artillery batteries. These ten battalions are organised into three Tactical Operations Commands: one Mechanised Tactical Operations Command with BTR-3 armoured personnel carriers, and two Motorized Tactical Operations Command with EQ-2102 6x6 trucks.

MOC are equivalent to Light Infantry Divisions (LID) in the Myanmar Army order of battle as both command 10 infantry battalions through three TOC's (Tactical Operations Commands). However, unlike Light Infantry Divisions, MOC are subordinate to their respective Regional Military Command (RMC) Headquarters.[16] Members of MOC does not wear distinguished arm insignias and instead uses their respective RMC's arm insignias. For example, MOC-20 in Kawthaung wore the arm insignia of Costal Region Military Command.

Military Operation Command (MOC) Headquarters Notes
1st Military Operations Command (MOC-1) Kyaukme, Shan State
2nd Military Operations Command (MOC-2) Mong Nawng, Shan State
3rd Military Operations Command (MOC-3) Mogaung, Kachin State
4th Military Operations Command (MOC-4) Hpugyi, Yangon Region Designated Airborne Division
5th Military Operations Command (MOC-5) Taungup, Rakhine State
6th Military Operations Command (MOC-6) Pyinmana (ပျဉ်းမနား), Mandalay Region
7th Military Operations Command (MOC-7) Hpegon (ဖယ်ခုံ), Shan State
8th Military Operations Command (MOC-8) Dawei (ထားဝယ်), Tanintharyi Region
9th Military Operations Command (MOC-9) Kyauktaw (ကျောက်တော်), Rakhine State
10th Military Operations Command (MOC-10) Kyigon (ကျီကုန်း (ကလေးဝ)), Sagaing Region
11th Military Operations Command (MOC-11)
12th Military Operations Command (MOC-12) Kawkareik (ကော့ကရိတ်), Kayin State
13th Military Operations Command (MOC-13) Bokpyin (ဘုတ်ပြင်း), Tanintharyi Region
14th Military Operations Command (MOC-14) Mong Hsat (မိုင်းဆတ်), Shan State
15th Military Operations Command (MOC-15) Buthidaung (ဘူးသီးတောင်), Rakhine State
16th Military Operations Command (MOC-16) Theinni (သိန်းနီ), Shan State
17th Military Operations Command (MOC-17) Mong Pan (မိုင်းပန်), Shan State
18th Military Operations Command (MOC-18) Mong Hpayak (မိုင်းပေါက်), Shan State
19th Military Operations Command (MOC-19) Ye (ရေး), Mon State
20th Military Operations Command (MOC-20) Kawthaung (ကော့သောင်း), Tanintharyi Region
21st Military Operations Command (MOC-21) Bhamo (ဗန်းမော်), Kachin State

Light Infantry Divisions (LID)Edit

Light Infantry Division (Chay Myan Tat Ma or Ta Ma Kha), 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.[7][16]

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 Mountains in the mid-1970s. Three more LIDs were raised in the latter half of the 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.[7][16]

Each LID, commanded by Brigadier General (Bo hmu gyoke) level officers, consists of 10 light infantry battalions specially trained in counter-insurgency, jungle warfare, "search and destroy" operations against ethnic insurgents and narcotics-based armies. These battalions are organised under three Tactical Operations Commands (TOC; Nee byu har). Each TOC, commanded by a 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 infantry battalion is held in reserve. As of 2000, all LIDs have their own 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[7]

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).[7][16]

Light Infantry Division (LID) Badge Year formed Headquarters First commander Current commander Notes
11th Light Infantry Division 1988 Inndine Col. Win Myint Formed after 1988 military coup.
22nd Light Infantry Division 1987 Hpa-An Col. Tin Hla Involved in crackdown of unarmed protestors during 8.8.88 democracy uprising
33rd Light Infantry Division 1984 Mandalay/later Sagaing Col. Kyaw Ba Involved in crackdown against the Rohingya in northern Rakhine state[18]

Involved in the Kachin conflict

44th Light Infantry Division 1979 Thaton Col. Myat Thin
55th Light Infantry Division 1980 Sagaing/later Kalaw Col. Phone Myint
66th Light Infantry Division 1976 Innma Col. Taung Zar Khaing
77th Light Infantry Division 1966 Hmawbi/later Bago Col. Tint Swe
88th Light Infantry Division 1967 Magway Col. Than Tin
99th Light Infantry Division 1968 Meiktila Col. Kyaw Htin Involved in crackdown against the Rohingya in northern Rakhine state[18]
101st Light Infantry Division 1991 Pakokku Col. Saw Tun Units of 101st LID were deployed during the purge of Military Intelligence faction in 2004.

Missile, Artillery and armoured unitsEdit

Missile, 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. The Directorate of Artillery and Missile Corps was also divided into separate corps in 2009. A dramatic expansion of forces under these directorates followed with the equipment procured from China, Russia, Ukraine and India.[7][16]

Directorate of MissilesEdit

No(1) Missile Operational Command MOC(1)Edit

Directorate of ArtilleryEdit

707th Artillery Operation Command

No. 1 Artillery Battalion was formed in 1952 with three artillery batteries under the Directorate of Artillery Corps. A further three artillery battalions were formed in the late 1952. This formation remained unchanged until 1988. Since 2000, the Directorate of Artillery Corps has overseen the expansion of Artillery Operations Commands(AOC) from two to 10. Tatmadaw's stated intention is to establish an organic Artillery Operations Command in each of the 12 Regional Military Command Headquarters. Each Artillery Operation Command is composed of the following:[citation needed]

As of 2000, the Artillery wing of the Tatmadaw has about 60 battalions and 37 independent Artillery companies/batteries attached to various Regional Military Commands (RMC), Light Infantry Divisions (LID), Military Operation Command (MOC) and Regional Operation Command (ROC). For example, 314th Artillery Battery is under 44th LID, 326 Artillery Battery is attached to 5th MOC, 074 Artillery Battery is under the command of ROC (Bhamo) and 076 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 Artillery Corps.[7][16]

Artillery Operations Command (AOC)Edit

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).[citation needed] As of 2011, all field guns of Myanmar Artillery Corps are undergoing upgrade programs including GPS Fire Control Systems.

Artillery Operations Command (AOC) Headquarters Notes
505th Artillery Operations Command Myeik (မြိတ်)
707th Artillery Operations Command Kyaukpadaung (ကျောက်ပန်းတောင်း)
606th Artillery Operations Command Thaton (သထုံ)
808th Artillery Operations Command Oak Twinn (အုပ်တွင်းမြို့)
909th Artillery Operations Command Mong Khon--Kengtung
901st Artillery Operations Command Baw Net Gyi (ဘောနက်ကြီး--ပဲခူးတိုင်း)
902nd Artillery Operations Command [NAUNG HKIO)
903rd Artillery Operations Command [AUNG BAN)
904th Artillery Operations Command Mohnyin (မိုးညှင်း)
905th Artillery Operations Command Padein--Ngape

Directorate of ArmourEdit

No. 1 Armour Company and No. 2 Armour Company were formed in July 1950 under the Directorate of Armour and Artillery Corps with Sherman tanks, Stuart light tanks, Humber Scout Cars, Ferret armoured cars and Universal Bren Carriers. These two companies were merged on 1 November 1950 to become No. 1 Armour Battalion with headquarters in Mingalardon. On 15 May 1952 No. Tank Battalion was formed with 25 Comet tanks acquired from the United Kingdom. The Armour Corps within Myanmar Army was the most neglected one for nearly thirty years since the Tatmadaw had not procured any new tanks or armoured carriers since 1961.[citation needed]

Armoured divisions, known as Armoured Operations Command (AROC), under the command of Directorate of Armour Corps, were also expanded in number from one to two, each with four Armoured Combat battalions equipped with Infantry fighting vehicles and armoured personnel carriers, three tank battalions equipped with main battle tanks and three Tank battalions equipped with light tanks. [16] 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 armoured personnel carriers in 2004.[19] In 2006, the Government of India 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 Combat Helicopters in return for Tatmadaw's support and co-operation in flushing out Indian insurgent groups operating from its soil.[20]

Armoured Operations Command (AROC)Edit

Armoured Operations Commands (AROC) are equivalent to Independent armoured divisions in western terms. Currently there are 5 Armoured Operations Commands under Directorate of Armoured Corps in the Tatmadaw order of battle. Tatmadaw planned to establish an AROC each in 7 Regional Military Commands.[citation needed] Typical armoured divisions in the Myanmar Army are composed of Headquarters, Three Armored Tactical Operations Command – each with one mechanised infantry battalion equipped with 44 BMP-1 or MAV-1 Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Two Tank Battalions equipped with 44 main battle tanks each, one armoured reconnaissance battalion equipped with 32 Type-63A Amphibious Light Tanks, one field artillery battalion and a support battalion. The support battalion is composed of an engineer squadron, two logistic squadrons, and a signal company.[citation needed]

The Myanmar Army acquired about 150 refurbished EE-9 Cascavel armoured cars from an Israeli firm in 2005.[21] Classified in the army's service as a light tank, the Cascavel is currently deployed in the eastern Shan State and triangle regions near the Thai border.

Armoured Operations Command (ArOC) Headquarters Notes
71st Armoured Operations Command Pyawbwe (ပျော်ဘွယ်)
72nd Armoured Operations Command (အုန်းတော)
73rd Armoured Operations Command (မလွန်)
74th Armoured Operations Command (အင်းတိုင်)
75th Armoured Operations Command (သာဂရ)

Office of the Chief of Air DefenceEdit

The Office of the chief of Air Defence (လေကြောင်းရန်ကာကွယ်ရေးတပ်ဖွဲ့အရာရှိချုပ်ရုံး) is one of the major branches of Tatmadaw. It was established as the Air Defence Command in 1997, but was not fully operational until late 1999. It was renamed the Bureau of Air Defence in the early 2000s. In early 2000, Tatmadaw established the Myanmar Integrated Air Defence System (MIADS) (မြန်မာ့အလွှာစုံပေါင်းစပ်လေကြောင်းရန်ကာကွယ်ရေးစနစ်) with help from Russia and China. It is a tri-service bureau with units from all three branches of the armed forces. All air defence assets except anti-aircraft artillery are integrated into MIADS.[22]

Directorate of SignalEdit

Soon after the independence in 1948, Myanmar Signal Corps was formed with units from Burma Signals, also known as "X" Branch. It consisted HQ Burma Signals, Burma Signal Training Squadron (BSTS) and Burma Signals Squadron. HQ Burma Signals was located within War Office. BSTS based in Pyain Oo Lwin was formed with Operating Cipher Training Troop, Dispacth Rider Training Troop, Lineman Training Troop, Radio Mechanic Training Troop and Regimental Signals Training Troop. BSS, based in Mingalardon, had nine sections: Administration Troop, Maintenance Troop, Operating Troop, Cipher Troop, Lineman and Dispatch Rider Troop, NBSD Signals Troop, SBSD Signals Troop, Mobile Brigade Signals Toop and Arakan Signals Toop. The then Chief of Signal Staff Officer (CSO) was Lieutenant Colonel Saw Aung Din. BSTS and BSS were later renamed No. 1 Signal Battalion and No.1 Signal Training Battalion. In 1952, the Infantry Divisional Signals Regiment was formed and later renamed to No. 2 Signal Battalion. HQ Burma Signals was reorganised and became Directorate Signal and the director was elevated to the rank of Colonel. In 1956, No. 1 Signal Security Battalion was formed, followed by No. 3 Signal Battalion in November 1958 and No.4 Signal Battalion in October 1959.

In 1961, signal battalions were reorganised as No. 11 Signal Battalion under North Eastern Regional Military Command, No. 121 Signal Battalion under Eastern Command, No. 313 Signal Battalion under Central Command, No.414 Signal Battalion under South Western Command, and No. 515 Signal Battalion under South Eastern Command. No.1 Signal Training Battalion was renamed Burma Signal Training Depot (Baho-Setthweye-Tat).

By 1988, Directorate of Signals command one training depot, eight signal battalions, one signal security battalion, one signal store depot and two signal workshops. Signal Corps under Directorate of Signal further expanded during 1990 expansion and reorganisation of Myanmar Armed Forces. By 2000, a signal battalion is attached to each Regional Military Command and signal companies are now attached to Light Infantry Divisions and Military Operations Commands.

In 2000, Command, Control and Communication system of Myanmar Army has been substantially upgraded by setting up the military fibre optic communication network managed by Directorate of Signal throughout the country. Since 2002 all Myanmar Army Regional Military Command HQs used its own telecommunication system. Satellite communication links are 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 the 1980s. Myanmar Army also uses the locally built TRA 906 Thura and Chinese XD-D6M radio sets. Frequency hopping handsets are fitted to all front line units.[23]

Between 2000 and 2005, Myanmar army bought 50 units of Brett 2050 Advanced Tech radio set from Australia through third party from Singapore. Those units are distributed to ROCs in central & upper regions to use in counterinsurgency operations.[16]

Directorate of Medical ServicesEdit

At the time of independence in 1948, the medical corps has two Base Military Hospitals, each with 300 beds, in Mingalardon and Pyin Oo Lwin, a Medical Store Depot in Yangon, a Dental Unit and six Camp Reception Stations located in Myitkyina, Sittwe, Taungoo, Pyinmana, Bago and Meikhtila. Between 1958 and 1962, the medical corps was restructured and all Camp Reception Stations were reorganised into Medical Battalions.

In 1989, Directorate of Medical Services has significantly expanded along with the infantry. In 2007, there are two 1,000-bed Defence Services General Hospitals (Mingalardon and Naypyitaw), two 700-bed hospitals in Pyin Oo Lwin and Aung Ban, two 500-bed military hospitals in Meikhtila and Yangon, one 500-bed Defence Services Orthopedic Hospital in Mingalardon, two 300-bed Defence Services Obstetric, Gynecological and Children hospitals (Mingalardon and Naypyitaw), three 300-bed Military Hospitals (Myitkyina, Ann and Kengtung), eighteen 100-bed Military Hospitals (Mongphyet, Baan, Indaing, Bahtoo, Myeik, Pyay, Loikaw, Namsam, Lashio, Kalay, Mongsat, Dawai, Kawthaung, Laukai, Thandaung, Magway, Sittwe, and Hommalin), fourteen field medical battalions, which are attached to various Regional Military Commands throughout the country. Each Field Medical Battalion consist of 3 Field Medical Companies with 3 Field Hospital Units and a specialist team each. Health & Disease Control Unit (HDCU) is responsible for prevention, control & eradication of diseases.

Units Headquarter RMC
Medical Corps Centre Hmawbi Yangon Command
No.(1) Field Medical Battalion Mandalay Central Command
No.(2) Field Medical Battalion Taunggyi Eastern Command
No.(3) Field Medical Battalion Taungoo Southern Command
No.(4) Field Medical Battalion Pathein South Western Command
No.(5) Field Medical Battalion Mawlamyaing South Eastern Command
No.(6) Field Medical Battalion Hmawbi Yangon Command
No.(7) Field Medical Battalion Monywa North Western Command
No.(8) Field Medical Battalion Sittwe Western Command
No.(9) Field Medical Battalion Mohnyin Northern Command
No.(10) Field Medical Battalion Lashio North Eastern Command
No.(11) Field Medical Battalion Bhamo Northern Command
No.(12) Field Medical Battalion Kengtung Triangle Region Command
No.(13) Field Medical Battalion Myeik Coastal Region Command
No.(14) Field Medical Battalion Taikkyi Yangon Command
Health and Disease Control Unit Mingaladon Yangon Command



Defence academies and collegesEdit

Flags Academies Locations
National Defence College – NDC Naypyidaw (နေပြည်တော်)
Defence Services Command and General Staff College – DSCGSC Kalaw (ကလော)
Defence Services Academy – DSA Pyin U Lwin (ပြင်ဦးလွင်)
Defence Services Technological Academy – DSTA Pyin U Lwin (ပြင်ဦးလွင်)
Defence Services Medical Academy – DSMA Yangon (ရန်ကုန်)
Military Institute of Nursing and Paramedical Science – MINP Yangon (ရန်ကုန်)
Military Computer And Technological Institute – MCTI (Former Military Technological College-MTC, Pyin Oo Lwin Hopong (ဟိုပုံး)

Training schoolsEdit

Badge Training Schools Locations
Officer Training School – OTS Fort Ba Htoo
Basic Army Combat Training School Fort Ba Htoo
1st Army Combat Forces School Fort Ba Htoo
2nd Army Combat Forces School Fort Bayinnaung
Artillery Training School Mone Tai
Armour Training School Maing Maw
Electronic Warfare School Pyin U Lwin
Engineer School Pyin U Lwin
Information Warfare School Yangon
Air, Land and Paratroops Training School Hmawbi
Special Forces School Fort Ye Mon

Ranks and insigniaEdit

Commissioned officer ranksEdit

The rank insignia of commissioned officers.

Rank group General/flag officers Field/senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
  Myanmar Army
ဒုတိယ ဗိုလ်ချုပ်မှူးကြီး
Dutiya bolhkyaotem­hauukyee
ဒုတိယ ဗိုလ်ချုပ်ကြီး
Dutiya bolhkyaotekyee
ဒုတိယ ဗိုလ်မှူးကြီး
Dutiya bolmhauukyee
ဒုတိယ ဗိုလ်
Dutiya bol

Other ranksEdit

The rank insignia of non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel.

Rank group Senior NCOs Junior NCOs Enlisted
  Myanmar Army
            No insignia
Du aararhkanbol
Tauthkwal tautkyautkyee

Order of battleEdit


  • 14 x Regional Military Commands (RMC) organised in 6 Bureau of Special Operations (BSO)
  • 6 x Regional Operations Commands (ROC)
  • 20 × Military Operations Commands (MOC) including 1 x Airborne Infantry Division
  • 10 x Light Infantry Divisions (LID)
  • 5 x Armoured Operation Commands (AOC) (Each with 6 Tank Battalions and 4 Armoured Infantry Battalions (IFVs/APCs).)
  • 10 x Artillery Operation Commands (AOC) (with of 113 Field Artillery Battalions)
  • 9 x Air Defence Operation Commands
  • 1 x Missile Operation Commands
  • 40+ Military Affair Security Companies (MAS Units replaces former Military Intelligence Units after the disbandment of the Directorate of Defence Service Intelligence (DDSI))
  • 45 Advanced Signal Battalions
  • 54 Field Engineer Battalions
  • 4 Armoured Engineer Battalions
  • 14 Medical Battalions



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The International The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS); International Institute of Strategic Studies (24 January 2014). The Military Balance 2014. Routledge. pp. 265–266. ISBN 978-1-85743-722-5. Retrieved 12 May 2021.
  2. ^ "Border Guard Force Scheme". Myanmar Peace Monitor.
  3. ^ Maung Zaw (18 March 2015). "Taint of 1988 still lingers for rebooted student militia". Myanmar Times.
  4. ^ The Asian Conventional Military Balance 2006 (PDF), Center for Strategic and International Studies, 26 June 2006, p. 4, archived (PDF) from the original on 29 April 2011, retrieved 20 March 2011
  5. ^ "Myanmar allocates 1/4 of new budget to military". Associated Press. 1 March 2011. Archived from the original on 28 June 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2011.[dead link]
  6. ^ Working Papers – Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Selth, Andrew (2002): Burma's Armed Forces: Power Without Glory, Eastbridge. ISBN 1-891936-13-1
  8. ^ Far Eastern Economic Review, 20 May 1981
  9. ^ FEER, 7 July 1983
  10. ^ Bertil Lintner, Land of Jade
  11. ^ Asiaweek 21 February 1992
  12. ^ The Defence of Thailand (Thai Government issue), p.15, April 1995
  13. ^ "Myanmar's losing military strategy". Asia Times. 7 October 2006. Archived from the original on 13 May 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2010.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  14. ^ WP 342. Australian National University
  15. ^ "Myanmar-Army Regional Military Commands". Global Security. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Myoe, Maung Aung: Building the tatmadaw – Myanmar Armed Forces Since 1948, Institute of SouthEast Asian Studies. ISBN 978-981-230-848-1
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ a b "How Myanmar's shock troops led the assault that expelled the Rohingya". Reuters. Archived from the original on 17 July 2018. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Defense19". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  21. ^ "Why Russia". Archived from the original on 5 December 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2015.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  22. ^ IndraStra Global Editorial Team (30 October 2020). "Myanmar Integrated Air Defense System". Archived from the original on 31 October 2020. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  23. ^ "Burmanet " Jane's Intelligence Review: Radio active – Desmond Ball and Samuel Blythe". Archived from the original on 6 December 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2014.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit