This book is essential reading for any student of Burma, security in the Asia-Pacific region, China-India relations, or military and strategic priorities in Asia and the world. The key to coming to grips with modern Burma is to understand the country’s armed forces. Although it has dominated all aspects of Burmese life since the 1962 coup, there has been no comprehensive or detailed study of the Tatmadaw as a military institution. Drawing on five years of research in Burma and beyond, including interviews with military specialists and commentators, Andrew Selth has written the first book on the inner workings of the Tatmadaw.
Here is a scholarly and objective account of Burma’s strategic posture, its defense policies and threat perceptions; its military doctrine, defense expenditures, arms acquisitions, and combat capabilities. Here are chapters on Burma’s intelligence apparatus, and its suspected uses of chemical and biological weapons. Diagrams and maps illustrate the Tatmadaw’s organization, structure, and order of battle.
The author pays particular attention to the dramatic expansion and modernization of the Tatmadaw since the 1988 pro-democracy uprising and the secret role that countries like China have played in this process. There are valuable insights into the way the armed forces have attempted to govern Burma over the past 14 years, their internal disputes, and how they see their future role. Finally, the book examines how the Tatmadaw might cope with a democratic government coming to power in Rangoon.
“This study is unique in the literature and it is evident that it will be required reading for anyone seriously concerned with Myanmar, the Southeast Asia region, and indeed with the relationships between India and China. It is not only those observers of the Burmese scene who are in Mr. Selth’s debt, but also those involved in the study of the military in various societies who can learn much from this important volume. There are lessons of Burma/Myanmar applicable in relation to policies in other multi-ethnic states, in economic development, and in civil-military relations. Mr. Selth has given us much to muse on beyond the borders of that unfortunate country”
— from the Foreword by David I. Steinberg