Saturday, March 13, 2010

If Attacked, Mon will Wage Guerrilla War

If war breaks out between the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Burmese regime, the small cease-fire army will wage a guerrilla war, according to Mon leaders.

Since the Mon rejected the regime's order to transform its army into a border guard force, tension has increased in recent months between the NMSP and the Burmese military.

Party leaders said that they have trained their soldiers to wage a guerrilla war, if they are attacked.

Nai Hang Thar, the secretary of the NMSP, told The Irrawaddy, “If there is war in the future, we will not fight like we did in the past, and we will fight not only in the jungle. Our Mon people are everywhere. We will take a clandestine, guerrilla war to the enemy.

“We have traveled through the country for years now, and we now know where their important sites are,” he said.

Nai Zay Ya, the commander of the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA), said “Before we didn't know how to make bombs. We tried for many years. But, today we know how to make powerful bombs.”

The NMSP now has an army of about 700 soldiers, according to a retired NMLA colonel, a much smaller force than before it signed a cease-fire with the regime in 1995. The Burmese military has about 400,000 troops.

Nai Hang Thar said his commanders understand Burmese military strategy and direct confrontations with a larger force would be avoided.

Nai Kao Rot, a former MNLA deputy army chief, said that after 14 years of cease-fire, the junta’s troops now have about 30 battalions in Mon State. Before the cease-fire, there were about 10 battilions.

Recently, two Burmese battalions were ordered into areas under the control of the NMSP, despite a long-standing agreement between both sides that Burmese troops would not enter 12 areas under NMSP control while the cease-fire agreement was enforce.

This in the first time in 15 years that the Burmese military has entered its area, Mon sources said.

The junta reportedly intends to declare that ethnic armed cease-fire groups are illegal organizations, if the groups continue to resist the regime's border guard force plan, which would place ethnic armies under the control of junta commanders.

Meanwhile, the NMSP has scheduled a month-long meeting at its headquarters to discuss recent developments, attended by all local army officials, according to the sources.

According to a source close to the party, the NMSP is drawing up targeting maps from fixed positions to be used if the regime's military launches an offensive in the mountains.

Nai Thu Rein, a party member, said that the military has been purchasing arms since 2002. He would not say what type of weapons the Mon have acquired.

The party has a shortage of bullets for AK47 rifles, according to one source. He said the army has acquired M16 assault rifles, and that ammunition is easily available in Thailand.

Under terms of the cease-fire agreement, the Mon could not resupply their army or conduct military training exercises. However, a source said that since the cease-fire agreement, the Mon have conducted twice yearly military exercises involving 150 soldiers each time. The latest exercise ended in January.

In 2004, the party formed a unit of commando troops, numbering about 50 people, and conducted training exercises, including laying mines.

Party leaders said that they could enlist new recruits and formers soldiers if they are attacked. Last year, the party began organizing former soldiers in townships in Mon State.

Nai Ba Ya Aein, a former member of the MNLA, said, “When we had tension with the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army in 2007 after we killed a DKBA soldier in Palanjapan village, at least a hundred of people in the village enlisted with us to fight.”

Related Article: A Visit with Leaders on Mon National Day

By LAWI WENG, Friday, March 12, 2010, Irrawaddy


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