Vietnam Like War in Rakhine, Myanmar, Impending

A Myanmar Army's high ranking officer photo, who killed in Rakhine frontline  

Vietnam Like War in Rakhine, Myanmar, Impending 

Sittway, 3 November 2019

Myanmar army known as Tatmadaw leaders believed they would win easily the war against Arakan Army, a defiant armed organization of Rakhine ethnic in western part of Myanmar. Nine months later and met with major losses, they learned lessons, they would not win the war cheaply. 

Tatmadaw has been reinforcing with Light Infantry Divisions (LID) such as 22, 33, 55, and 77 from Southern Shan State and mainland Myanmar, combining with the existing battalions in Rakhine State, in order to defeat the rebel group since January.  

The military planners in Naypaytaw are under estimated the ability of AA fighting forces. First, the generals declared unilateral ceasefire for four months but excluded Rakhine State. Then they extended twice. On the other hand, they sent several LIDs to Rakhine and launched aggressive operations in Paletwa, Chin State, and several townships in northern Rakhine in earlier months of 2019.

At that time, AA troops were only operating near India and Bangladesh borders and in Chin State and Bbuthidaung areas. Some were operating in thick forests and high mountains in Ponnaygun township. 

After AA faced major attacks on their bases in the borders and supported by air powers including jet fighters and helicopter gunships and well as multi rocket launchers, AA commanders restrategized and split its forces into smaller units with 50 and 150 fighters and assembled to Mrauk U, Kyauktaw, Minbya, Rathedaung, Maybon, Ponnaygun, Buthidaung, Maungdaw, and Ann townships. Then they launched hit-and-run attacks on the Myanmar soldiers. 

Arakan Army fighters sometimes attacked on strategic artillery stations and navy. They also attacked on smaller police outposts. 

The fighters once controlled over the strategic military station in Paletwa township in June. It also seized a couple of artillery bases in Mrauk U and Minbya townships in April and October. 

It attacked police outpost in Yawtayoke and Mrauk U in last dry season, and a dozens of police were killed. 

AA fighters use Wi-Fi and Blue Tooth remote control landmines and attack on Myanmar soldiers when the troops stay and block villages, aiming to deter AA members to enter into the villages to collect foods and rations. 

These hit and run guerrilla tactics and Wi-Fi and Blue Tooth landmines attacks are very effectives. Many soldiers are killed and paralyzed the blockages. 

The tactic of blocking and use of “4-Cut” strategy by Myanmar army is to cut AA collection of foods and contacts with the villagers in the raining season. 

Sometimes, Myanmar army collectively attacks AA bases in the mountains and forests supported by helicopter gunships.

Both strategies are fail, but AA is surviving and even advancing its troops in the monsoon weather. The advance makes generals headache. In return, Myanmar army arrest villagers, burn the houses, and forces to relocate 70,000 villagers who live near the mountains and forests. 

The most advantage of AA is its sophisticated communication system and support of local people. It gets news and information of Myanmar troop mobilizations in advance, mostly from the villagers and travelers even though Myanmar government cut off internet services. AA knows where the soldiers are heading to and stationing at. 

In a minute of the soldiers move out of the villages by foots or by cars, the landmines are laid down. It explodes and kills the soldiers on the roadsides shortly. 

Most coordinated attacks by Myanmar soldiers on AA bases are setback and withdrew confusedly. The soldiers even get surprise attacks in the middle of preparation.

For nine months of Myanmar army offensive, it cannot show and prove a single AA base is seized and destroyed. 

One of the military analysists told our information center that some generals are disappointed the LID 22, 33, 55, and 77 that have been posted in Rakhine frontlines for almost one years. They are exhausted and tired. Their morale is very low. They do not want to fight anymore. They need to replace with other LIDs. But the generals have no other options. Tension is high between the Shan State Army and Tatmadaw in southern Shan State.  

One of the military officers who had been Rakhine frontline and does not want to use his name for security reason told us Myanmar army is in fact losing wars in Rakhine. He said it is like Americans were losing war in Vietnam. 

He said, air support was ineffective. Jet fighters  had to fly from mainland Myanmar to Rakhine. It took at least 30 to 45 minutes to reach the fighting areas. At that time, AA fighters had already disappeared. Then the jets drooped all the bombs and fired missiles because the commanders were not happy if the pilots brought back unfired rockets. 

The helicopters are the most ineffective ones, the officer said, because it cannot dock in Sittway and Buthedaung. When the helicopters are docked at that places, AA comes and attacks. Then shoppers have to fly from Ann military base. It takes at least 45 minutes or one hour to reach the fighting grounds. Then, the shoppers have to drop all the bombs and empty the rockets whether there are AA fighters in place or not.  Most of the times, the pilots missed the targets. 

He said when Myanmar army send the nary, it is attacked. Most rivers and brooks are narrow and shallow, he said  

He said the highest-ranking generals in Naypaytaw know it well how many soldiers and officers are killed in Rakhine operation. But they are reluctant to admit it. 

One day, they will come up and say Myanmar government will negotiate with AA.  But it needs a third party for face saving, he told our center. 

It is true, Rakhine war becomes exactly like Vietnam war. Rakhine people and AA fighters are unseparatable. They believe self-rule is the best answer for the quest of freedom and prosperity. 

Rakhine people know and determine to scarify at this time for the better future. 


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