Thu 30 Jun 2005
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
June 24: [Newsreader] It has been learned that the Department of Security on Military Affairs [DSMA], formed after the arrest and purge of Gen Khin Nyunt, former prime minister and chief of military intelligence, has been reorganized with new personnel at the 12 military commands.
Burma-Thailand border based military observers said a special meeting was held during the second week of June at Lashio-based Northeast Military Command that is directly facing some problems with the peace groups [ethnic cease-fire groups] and four battalion commanders were given duties in charge of DSMA and other departments. They are General Staff Officer [GSO] Grade-1 DSMA, Staff Office Grade-1 [SO-1] Inspection Department, SO-1 People’s Militia Department, and SO-1 Military Department.
Observers say it is rather strange to see other officers assigned separate duties for different departments formerly managed alone by Northeast Military Command Commander Maj-Gen Myint Hlaing.
When DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] contacted military observer U Htay Aung about the matter, he explained as follows:
[U Htay Aung] After the arrest of personnel from the Military Intelligence led by Gen Khin Nyunt on 19 October 2004, the junta reorganized the military intelligence apparatus and formed the DSMA. According to the new setup the chain of command is not under the DSMA but the regional commanders and 12 new departments have been formed in the 12 regional military commands. The department is formed with GSO-1, GSO-2, and others depending on their duties and responsibilities. Sa Ya Hpa or Security on Military Affairs Battalions have been formed at prominent cities under the military commands.
[DVB correspondent] Yes. We have learned that the DSMA at Northeast Military Command is headed by a GSO-1. Since it is under the control of the regional military commander and Maj-Gen Myint Swe, who is the chief of DSMA and also Rangoon commander, how will the chain of command work?
[U Htay Aung] I think another person needs to be appointed as chief of DSMA who will be stationed at the War Office. It is possible Rangoon Commander Maj-Gen Myint Swe is currently jointly in charge of Rangoon command and DSMA because the Rangoon command shares the same premises with the War Office. Moreover, the army commander in chief and deputy army commander in chief rank higher than the regional commanders. It seems they are forming the DSMA as a separate support unit under the army’s control, which means the DSMA could not control the regional military commanders like the Military Intelligence Department under Gen Khin Nyunt did, and the DSMA chief could not directly control the DSMA battalions in the military commands. The regional military commanders will have direct control over the DSMA battalions. I think the commanders will report directly to the army commander in chief concerning the DSMA matters and send courtesy copies to the DSMA chief. The current procedure is just the opposite of the old one.
[DVB correspondent] You mean there is no way the new DSMA chief could become a powerful intelligence chief like Gen Khin Nyunt?
[U Htay Aung] That is correct. They have formed the DSMA Office by taking lessons from previous experiences. You can arbitrarily say the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] has reorganized the military to have a firmer grip on power. But in our view, the junta military is still facing internal problems concerning appointments and transfers. We believe the internal strife will remain in another form within the military.