Lt Gen Aung Htwe
Lt Gen Maung Bo
Lt Gen Ye Myint
Two weeks after the dismissal of General Khin Nyunt, Senior General Than Shwe and his commanders in the Burmese Army appear to be haunted by the prospect of a counter attack by the intelligence wing. Arrests are continuing, the National Intelligence Bureau has been abolished, the "Myanmar Information Committee" the mouthpiece of the junta has ceased functioning, and even the "Myanmar Times" jointly published by an expatriate and the military intelligence has been suspended.Given the fact that all media sources are under the control of the generals in power, the actual impact on the military is still difficult to gauge but the crackdown is nevertheless much more serious than publicized.
On 19 October the day Gen Khin Nyunt's dismissal was announced, the War Office issued a message to "all tactical operation commands, infantry and light infantry regiments,military columns, and units" which states, "An emergency has been declared beginning now. All units are to be on a state of alert, keep ammunition ready, and be prepared to move out within the hour if any engagements are reported." In the meantime, three commanders of the Bureau of Special Operations -- Lt Gen Aung Htwe, Lt Gen Ye Myint, and Lt Gen Maung Bo -- all from the combat wing have disappeared from the front pages of the newspapers since the crackdown began. They were also not among the well-wishers at the airport when Senior General Than Shwe recently left for India or when he returned to Rangoon.
No one can say with certainty what the fate of these top generals will be but it is a known fact that whenever a top commander is purged everyone under suspicion -- from top commanders to privates -- gets rounded up and interrogated until cleared beyond a shadow of doubt to be trustworthy by those in power. The only Bureau of Special Operations commander who continues to appear in the news is Lt Gen Khin Maung Than, previously the commander of Rangoon Command before the appointment of the present commander, Maj Gen Myint Swe. Commanders appointed to the Rangoon Command are usually people whom the top military leaders trust. This has been the practice since the Ne Win was in power.
Meanwhile, reports received by NewsDesk indicate the present military leadership is continuing its crackdown on intelligence units, which have all been ordered "to report the number of firearms, their serial numbers, the amount of ammunition, the type of communication equipment, and the number, type, and color of cars, motorcycles, and others in possession." An AFP report from Rangoon also reported that the authorities have seized vehicles worth about three million dollars in a continuing crackdown against military intelligence... the cars, expensive four-by-four vehicles belonging to the office of military intelligence were seized in the capital Rangoon.
A source close to the Burmese Embassy in Washington, DC, said Burmese
ambassadors have been recalled and told to report in Rangoon by 2 December.
Many officers who had served with the intelligence wing have been appointed
as ambassadors and for some of them, the future is unpredictable.
The Burmese ambassador in Washington, DC, U Linn Myaing, however, may
have unexpected "allies" on his side. With US Congressional leaders calling
for the downgrading of diplomatic relations with Burma, he might be hoping
that the Burmese generals would not risk naming a new ambassador in his
Earlier reports by news agencies that Ministers Col Tin Hlaing and Maj Gen
Sein Htwa were among those dismissed during the purge proved to be untrue
as both the ministers are reported to be performing their duties according to
the Burmese media.
The 'Smear' Campaign
The smear campaign against General Khin Nyunt has begun. Ministers who
still retain their positions have started holding meetings with the ministerial
staff members to explain the extent of corruption of General Khin Nyunt and
how he protected his own people.
In an interview with the Democratic Voice of Burma, NLD Spokesperson U
Lwin said neither his party nor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi have been contacted
by the present military rulers. The last contact Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had
with military officials was when she corresponded with the authorities who
wanted the NLD to attend the National Convention.
From the NIB to the "MIB"
The National Intelligence Bureau was scrapped under the "Law Abolishing
the National Intelligence Bureau Law" signed by General Than Shwe on 22
October. The move was an extension of the effort to expunge the military
intelligence wing's power base.
The National Intelligence Bureau is somewhat like Homeland Security in the
United States but dominated purely by the Military Intelligence Service,
which has undergone several name changes since its founding in 1958 -- from
the MIS to the Directorate of Defense Services Intelligence, to the Office of
the Military Intelligence Chief (MIC). Gen Khin Nyunt was also the Director
General of the National Intelligence Bureau but his connection to the Bureau
and to the military intelligence Service was downplayed since he became the
The National Intelligence Bureau comprises the Bureau of Special
Investigation which investigates corruption and fraud, and the Police's
Criminal Investigation Department and the Special Investigation Department -
- all three branches are under the Ministry of Home Affairs but headed by
incumbent or former military officers. The activities of these three branches
are lower key than the Military Intelligence Service which are more overt and
extend from monitoring border trade, to nationwide surveillance of the
population and foreign diplomatic activities, to investigating dissidence within
the Defense Services.
Senior General Than Shwe probably saw the MIS as a threat to his authority
and the regime itself. The recent purges, regardless of the corruption charges,
are aimed at reducing this threat. The last time the military intelligence
leadership was purged, the Ne Win military government failed to foresee the
widespread dissent in the country which led to mass uprising in 1988. The
leaders of the military coup in 1988 also failed to predict the National League
for Democracy winning the 1990 general elections.
Realizing the vacuum created by the extensive dismissals of intelligence
officers, the Ministry of Defense has sent out a message to local army units
asking them "to dispatch the name list of hardcore informants in every area to
Reports from Rangoon also indicate that the generals in Burma are planning to
name their new intelligence wing the "MIB" or the Military Intelligence
Bureau. The other intelligence and investigative branches seem unaffected by
the planned move since the ruling council recently appointed Colonel Aung
Saw Win of the Ministry of Defense as the Director General of the Bureau of
Special Investigation on 29 October.