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Burmese War

Burmese War

Date

1 May 2021 - 2 November 2021 (185 days)

Location

Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Yunnan (Republic of China)

Result

SEATO victory
Burmese constitution rewritten
Tatmadaw removed from power
Aung San Suu Kyi made Prime Minister of Burma

Belligerents

SEATO Unified Command

    Nacrad
    China (Chengdu)
    Thailand
    Vietnam
    United States
    South Korea
    New Carthagea
    Japan (humanitarian aid only)

Federal Republic of Burma

    Arakan Army
    KIA
    SSA
    KNLA
    ABSDF
    CAF

Tatmadaw
Burmese Militias

    MNDAA
    TNLA

People's Republic of China (alleged)

Commanders and Leaders

Nacrad:

    Matthew Y. Smith
    Simon S. Tsang
    Sarah T. Kwok
    Sonia S. Cheng
    Jason J. Chiang
    Nathan J. Law

RoC:

    Tsai Ing-wen
    Mok Yau-ming
    Chen Zhong-zheng
    En Teh-fa
    Kwang Chian-kuo

Thailand:

    Maha Vajiralongkorn
    Prayut Chan-o-cha
    Kantapong Tomson
    Somdet-Ong-Yai Chamlong

United States:

    Bernie Sanders
    Douglas C. Verissimo

Vietnam:

    Nguyễn Phú Trọng
    Quang Minh Cảnh

Tatmadaw:

    Myint Swe
    Myint Wai
    Phyo Thiha
    Kyaw Hein Thawda Htut
    Thant Htut Lin Naing
    Khant Zaw

Strength

1,245,000 (total)

634,000 (incl. paramilitaries)

Casualties

575 killed (247 killed by enemy action)
1,563 wounded
763 taken ill
23 missing
42 tanks disabled
102 APCs disabled
81 aircraft downed

13,245-50,000 killed
100,000+ wounded/taken ill
115 tanks disabled
467 APCs disabled
167 artillery disabled
123 aircraft downed


All times below are in GMT+6:30 (Burmese Standard Time), unless otherwise stated.

The Burmese War, also known as Operation Jungle Storm after the internal codename, Operation Downpour and Operation Overcast after the codename for the combat and preparation phases respectively, the Labour Day War among others, was a war waged by the Southeast Asian Treaty Organisation against the Tatmadaw in response to the February Coup and alleged involvement of the PRC, in order to deny the PRC a friendly state in Southeast Asia. It was codenamed Operation Jungle Storm, with its preparation and combat phases being respectively named Operation Overcast and Operation Downpour, but it had various other codenames internally in other SEATO countries.

On 1 February 2021, Tatmadaw had committed a coup d'etat, wherein the democratically-elected pro-SEATO civilian government was forcibly removed and imprisoned, and a year-long state of emergency was declared. While initially SEATO had hoped to resolve the issue diplomatically, talks rapidly broke down as Tatmadaw remained uncooperative, which was later revealed to be due to support from the PRC, having sponsored Tatmadaw's hostile takeover. After the ultimatum to fulfill SEATO Resolution 1135 by 22 April fell on deaf ears, SEATO has been left with no choice but to consider military action. It was also considered on the SEATO meeting on 4 April that the human rights abuses, including but not limited to Linkusing live fire on children, Linkusage of anti-tank weapons against unarmed civilian protesters, Linkusing airstrikes on minority settlements, among others committed by Tatmadaw on the Burmese population requires the invocation of the Responsibility to protect.

On 30 April 2021, the day before military operations, SEATO Operating Security Council officially ratified SEATO Resolution 1140, invoking Article 118 to temporarily terminate Burma's membership in SEATO, and authorising military operations. The initial phase of Operation Downpour lasted 7 weeks, and consisted of an air war to destroy many military and political assets, as well as dismantling the already-meager Tatmadaw Air Force. This was followed by a paratrooper and ground assault from Thailand, Vietnam and Yunnan Province in the Republic of China starting on 24 May, resulting in a decisive victory for SEATO.

Background



On 1 February 2021, Tatmadaw commander Myint Aung Hlang and Myint Swe, leading Tatmadaw, had deposed the National League of Democracy (NLD) government. The then-president Win Myint, and the then-counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi were arrested, and placed under arrest. This attracted much criticism and condemnation by SEATO, and separately by Nacrad and Republic of China. By 3 February, SEATO has already passed a non-binding resolution, Resolution 1129, urging Burma to return to civilian rule and release the arrested NLD members, which fell on deaf ears.

SEATO representatives then entered negotiations with Tatmadaw starting 10 February in Yangon, and while the talks began smoothly, Tatmadaw had feigned cooperation and had blatantly violated preliminary agreements on 24 February, declaring a nationwide lockdown and trapping the SEATO delegation in Burma. This prompted SEATO to pass Resolution 1135, repeating the demands set forth in Resolution 1129 but in a binding manner, and "affirms that SEATO Operating Security Council may [...] invoke Article 118 [...] if Burma fails to comply [...]".

After this resolution was passed, PRC has repeatedly threatened SEATO to repeal the above phrase, but SEATO declined, and began investigations to PRC's involvement. According to an anonymous source, a plan to invade Burma had begun its drafting phase by the start of March. Finally, it was found and determined that the PRC has a "major role" in Tatmadaw's takeover of Burma. To prevent further influence of the PRC in Southeast Asia, it was determined that military operations are necessary.

On 4 April, SEATO has ratified and executed Resolution 1137, issuing an ultimatum to Burma to follow Resolution 1135 by 23:59 Nacrad Standard Time (22:59 Burmese time) on 22 April 2021, or SEATO will be "authorised to utilise means military or otherwise" to enforce its Responsibility to protect. This has again fallen to deaf ears, signaling a complete breakdown of all diplomatic means to resolve the issue.

Preparation



Since 7 April, the LinkCommittee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) has been negotiating with the Arakan Army, Kachin Independence Army, Shan State Army, among others, in order to form the Federal Republic of Burma. The Burmese Federal Armed Forces (BFAF) was proclaimed on 21 April, and swiftly announced their aim, which is to remove the rule of Tatmadaw, and establish a democratic republic. Mahn Win Khine Than, the acting vice-president of the CRPH, reportedly entered a meeting with SEATO officials.

After all peaceful avenues to resolution of the conflict were deemed impossible by SEATO, it was reported that military officers from the various SEATO nations that will participate in this military operation entered briefing sessions in Pattaya City, Thailand, but it was not yet confirmed. However, on 20 April, SEATO announced the assembly of Unified Task Force 1 (UTF-1), consisting of 4 groups:

    Group 1:

      Aircraft Carrier NNV Perseverance (Flagship of the Task Force)
      Amphibious Assault Craft NNV Formosa
      Destroyer NNV Portsville, NNV Taipei
      Frigates NNV Kiray, NNV Kenting
      Submarine NNV Plover Cove
      Resupply Ship NNV Sharp Peak

    Group 2:

      Aircraft Carrier ROCS Chiang Kai-Shek
      Amphibious Assault Craft ROCS Gvangsi
      Destroyers ROCS Ting-hai, ROCS Yang-Hhai
      Corvettes ROCS Zhoushan, ROCS Wenzhou
      Submarine ROCS Hai-Shih
      Resupply Ship ROCS Wu-yi

    Group 3:

      Aircraft Carrier ROCS Chiang Ching-Kuo
      Aircraft Carrier HTMS Chakri Naruebet
      Offshore Patrol Craft HTMS Klang
      Frigates HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej, HTMS Taksin
      Hospital Ship NNV Rapture
      Resupply Ship NNV Sunset Peak

    Group 4:

      Aircraft Carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71)
      Cruiser USS Bunker Hill
      Destroyers USS Russell, USS John Finn, USS Ralph Johnson
      Submarine USS Delaware (SSN-791)
      Resupply Ship USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO-199)

By 25 April, the fleet was already readied, and made an expeditious transit of the Malacca Strait to the forward operating base of Phuket. Desiring to avoid arousing attention, SEATO maintained the position that the movement was only in preparation of the SEATO Joint Military Exercise. At the same time, some 1,000 aircraft and corresponding crew were ferried to the other forward airbases, which consisted of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pattaya U-Tapao, Kunming, Hsishuangpanna, Dali, among others. In addition, some 700,000 ground troops and corresponding heavy equipment were also readied for departure, but were not yet transported to the front to avoid arousing suspicion.

During the lead-up of the war, PRC had made threats that any operations against Burma would lead to retaliation from the PRC, but they were unable to follow through, and were limited to only diplomatic protests against SEATO during this campaign.

At 23:45 GMT+8 on 30 April 2021, SEATO Resolution 1140 was passed, which invoked SEATO Charter 118 to suspend Burmese membership. It also authorised military action explicitly, though it has already internally been approved.

Initial Battles


At 03:00 on 1 May 2021, Operation Downpour has begun. The operation begun with an extensive air campaign lasting 25 days launched from various locations in Thailand and Yunnan, as well as from UTF-1. During the 25 days, SEATO flew more than 95,000 sorties, and dropped nearly 80,000 tonnes of munitions, which has destroyed much military and civilian infrastructure. It is the second most extensive bombing campaign, with only the 1991 Gulf War being more extensive. The air campaign was commanded by Nacradian Air Force Lieutenant General Jason J. Chiang.

The air campaign was split into three phases, resulting in BVR rockets landing at the Phase 1 targets precisely at the time it is scheduled to begin. From 03:00 to 03:30, hundreds of missiles and bombs hit the various airfields and air force bases around Burma, leaving few intact. This alone has disabled up to half of the Tatmadaw Air Force.

The second phase was against the communication centers, which has led to a widespread Internet blackout. This was at the same time as news of the SEATO assault spread around the country, and the hashtag #OperationJungleStorm began trending, before being abruptly cut off at the precise moment that the Centre of International Communication was hit.

The third and largest phase was against the strategic assets of Burma, namely power generators, naval assets and Scud missile sets. As Scud missiles were mounted on trucks, it has proven extremely difficult to attack these missiles, and almost a third of the SEATO air force was devoted to this goal.

Tatmadaw made it no secret that it would commit to counterattacks if invaded. During a media conference prior to the war's start in Tokyo, when an RTBN reporter asked an English-speaking correspondent of Tatmadaw, "Mr. Foreign Minister, if the war indeed starts, [...] will Burma attack?", to which he replied, "Yes. Absolutely, without a doubt."

Having heard this response, SEATO Unified Command immediately commandeered 6 MIM-106 PATRIOT batteries from the Republic of China and Nacrad, and rapidly deployed them at the Thai-Burmese border and the Vietnamese-Burmese Border, while the Republic of China did the same in the southern part of Yunnan province.

Burma, knowing that it has no power to defend itself on its own, wished to cause as much damage as possible to SEATO. With most of its stockpile disabled, however, its options were limited. 10 hours after the start of the war, Burma has launched a total of 8 missiles at Phuket, where the headquarters of the operation are. However, being defended by Iron Dome and Patriot batteries, only 2 strikes were delivered, and led to about 20 deaths alongside 500 injuries.

On 14 May 2021, a Scud missile struck a Royal Thai Army regiment west of Chiang Mai, killing 13 soldiers and injuring 75.

On 21 April 2021, the Federal Republic of Burma has requested formally the military intervention of SEATO, a request soon approved by SEATO.

Ground Assault


Under the codename Operation Hellfire, a ground campaign was waged starting 24 May at 03:00. The campaign was started by paratrooper units, namely the 1st Airborne Division from Nacrad, the 135th and 192nd Airborne Brigades from the Republic of China and the 31st Infantry Regiment from Thailand. These units were able to capture key towns and road junctions near the border region of Burma, and paved the way for a ground assault. The assault began with an aerial insertion mission in the southernmost parts of Burma, and was initially met with little resistance due to the lack of troops in southern Burma.

Battle of Myawaddy
Nacradian and Thai decoy attacks has led to the Burmese to believe that the coalition will commit to an attack along the No.1 and No.2 Thai-Burmese Friendship Bridges, the two busiest border crossings before the coup, and has taken up positions to defend against this threat.

For weeks, the Thai and Nacradians in the Tak, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces were threatened by Burmese artillery, and their claimed stock of Hwasong-5 and 6 missiles. On 24 May 2021, the joint Thai-Nacradian forces crossed the Moei River in 7 separate positions, which at this time due to being at the end of the dry season has only knee-deep water at most crossings, and one unit reported only having to cross "nothing but the muddy remains of a river". A battalion in the Thai Army was deployed about 15 km north of Myawaddy to encircle the town of Swe Koke Ko, which led to the small garrison of Tatmadaw stationed there to surrender after only half a day of fighting.

The majority of the brigade-strong joint force crossed the Moei River to the north and south of Myawaddy, which was soon supplemented with a company of paratroopers, along with air support. The force attempted to a pincer attack along the hills surrounding Myawaddy, but found themselves locked in an engagement to the south of Myawaddy, unable to continue.

The Royal Thai Air Force has on 26 May 2021 rendered the road leading to Myawaddy impassable via bombing, and the A Company of the 136th Special Forces Regiment from Nacrad has crossed this road in the early morning of the day after, meeting the Thai force and completely cutting off Myawaddy from resupply, leading to a surrender on 2 June.

Battle of Tanintharyi
The Royal Thai Army and Royal Thai Marines, on 1 June, crossed the border from Kanchanaburi Province by foot and across Kra Buri by amphibious assault, in order to secure and cut off the Tanintharyi region, the southernmost region, from the rest of Burma. The attack on Kawthuong, just across the Kra Buri from Ranong, was particularly fierce, as artillery and air force from the nearby airport performed many raids near the city, neutralising much of the meager force stationed in the Tanintharyi region. By 17 June, the Tanintharyi Region was completely cut off. This led to the government of Tanintharyi Region to surrender to Thai forces after 5 weeks on 27 June.

Push towards Yangon
After the success in southern Burma, Tatmadaw was able to maintain a somewhat static frontline just east of the Irrawaddy basin, as it had pressed more men into service. However, following the push from the north, Tatmadaw found itself surrounded on all sides, and was as such forced to retreat slowly in sections to preserve its strength. This has allowed the Coalition forces to push westwards along the coastline. The push was further hastened thanks to amphibious landings done on beaches near Pyapon and Sittwe on 5 July and 12 July respectively, sapping Burmese morale and requiring diversion of the forces to these new fronts.

Northern Campaign
Under the codename of Operation Responsibility to Protect, the Republic of China Armed Forces begun advancing its troops across the RoC-Burmese border, supported by several Nacradian armoured brigades and Vietnamese brigades, crossed the China-Burmese border from the Yunnan Province. The first unit to cross this border was the 137A Armoured Company of the Nacradian Army, followed by several divisions of the Republic of China Army.

The attack was divided into 3 groups, each with their own objectives. Group A in the furthest west was tasked with cutting off the Kachin and the northern parts of the Sagaing Region from the rest of Burma. Group B, attacking from the same general area, was tasked with attacking southwards towards Mandalay through the Shan State. Group C was ordered to attack across eastern Burma via Hsishuangpanna and Laos (if so permitted) to link up with Thai forces further south. The plan was put into action on 3 June, after a 2-day delay due to inclement weather. Through the mountainous roads, the initial forces attacked along the 4 crossing roads on the towns of Muse, Namtit, Monyang and Mongla. Laos, while supportive of SEATO's invocation of the Responsibility to protect, did not permit SEATO forces to attack through northern Laos. Regardless, as much of Tatmadaw was diverted southwards or were occupied in suppressing protests in favour of SEATO action, Burma was unable to offer much resistance to the northern advances. The Federal Republic of Burma raised its battle flag at Kengtung on 7 June, and SEATO withdrew recognition for the Republic of the Tatmadaw on the same day in favour of the Federal Republic of Burma, which was invited to rejoin the Southeast Asian Treaty Organisation.

Having being augmented by a friendly militia, much of Group A was ordered to attack southwards along the Irrawaddy River to capture Mandalay with the goal to pressure Tatmadaw into conceding, while the remainder accompanied by Kachin militias continued to move westwards across the jungle terrain towards the Burmese-Indian border, but was unable to do so as the muddy terrain during the rainy season severely impeded progress.

At the same time, as the front considerably shortened due to tactical retreats, and the enactment of compulsory service, despite with poorly-trained and poorly-motivated individuals, Tatmadaw was able to increase force presence in the north against the SEATO coalition. The SEATO coalition was halted in the town of Mongmit, some 200 km from Mandalay. Group B, meanwhile, had successfully captured Anisakan Airport on 9 August, 3 days before Group A arrived at Mongmit. Shan militias, invited to join forces, had augmented Group C in traversing the harsh jungle landscape and caught Tatmadaw fighting the Thai in the south in the surprise, severing supply lines and attacking from the rear, causing Tatmadaw to retreat to Taunggyi.

Battle of Mandalay
The Battle of Mandalay was the focal point of operations in northern Burma, being fought between 12 August and 3 October. The SEATO coalition began an intensive air and artillery campaign on the forces in Mandalay, targeting the various military emplacements and fortification that Tatmadaw had set up in anticipation of this attack.

Initially, both Tatmadaw and Coalition attempted to out-maneuver each other, and the latter additionally attempted to capture the various reservoirs and hydroelectric powerplants in order to hasten the turning of the tide, and on 19 August captured the Yeywa Hydroelectric Powerplant to the south of their positions, while Thaphanzeik Dam was captured by another brigade of the Coalition forces on 21 August.

Conversely, Tatmadaw attempted to counter-encircle Coalition troops through the western Shan State, with a detailed plan to attack northwards at Pyin Oo Lwin, a forwards operating base of the Battle of Mandalay. However, with already low morale, this attack never materialised. Instead, Group B Coalition forces widened its flanks and swung south to Kyaukse, a suburb of Mandalay, on 1 September. Coalition forces continued advancing, and began engagement with Tatmadaw over Mandalay International Airport on 5 September.

By this point, the operation headquarters have decided to reorganise the command structure. Instead of using the Group A and Group B, which was a designation of missions as seen from the commencement of the Northern Campaign, it was reorganised into Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3, respectively on the west bank of the Irrawaddy, the northern east bank and the southern east bank, with the headquarters at Shwebo, Mongmit and Pyin Oo Lwin.

The front remained mostly stagnant until 3 October, which saw the garrison's surrender.

Aftermath


Cessation of Hostilities
Coalition forces, after the victory at Mandalay, began slowly advancing along the Mandalay-Yangon Expressway. However, there were no further decisive battles. Further, Tatmadaw was forced to divert much of its forces southwards, especially to Yangon, in order to suppress violent protests against the authorities. The rebellion was encouraged by the Voice of Free Asia, which was broadcast from Thailand. On 6 October, Myint Swe, the sitting de facto leader, agreed to negotiations on ceasefire and post-war arrangements in Bangkok. Finally, on 2 November 2021, about 5 months after the start of the war, a peace agreement was signed.

Rewriting of the Burmese Constitution
As it was found by law experts that the coup d'etat was in fact conducted in a manner authorised by the Burmese Constitution Articles 417 and 418, further considering that its provision allowing the military to hold one-fourth of the seats in its legislature, the constitution was rewritten by SEATO occupation authority, mimicking the Nacradian constitution. The new constitution reformed the government so that it is a federal parliamentary republic, and the military no longer holds any seats, nor may military officials hold position in the executive, and Tatmadaw was reformed as the Armed Forces of Burma. Further, the Tatmadaw commanders involved in the coup were dismissed. Aung San Suu Kyi was then appointed the Prime Minister of Burma.

Mistreatment of PoWs
Both sides were accused of abusing prisoners of war during and after the conflict. During the war, Coalition troops and commanders captured were paraded in what was later dubbed the "Walk of Shame", which was broadcast on live television. They were seen with telltale signs of abuse, such as a limping gait, visible scars, and even missing limbs. Coalition, on the other hand, was accused of neglecting nutritional needs of Burmese prisoners of war, and some captured by Thai forces may be given only 800 kcal per day, only 40% of the recommended daily intake of 2,000 kcal.

Damage of Civilian Infrastructure
In an attempt to hasten the surrender of Tatmadaw, Coalition troops had focused on disabling civilian infrastructure, most notably dams and reservoirs. As per a UN report, this has severely reduced the capability of Burma as an emerging power, unless the damaged infrastructure was replaced. While the Burmese understood the importance of the military operations, they were unable to comprehend the rational behind the destruction of dams, power plants, etc., and this sapped support for the Coalition.

Humanitarian Crisis
Due to violent methods used by Tatmadaw to quash any protests against its rule, and the bloody nature of the campaign, some 100,000 Burmese nationals have fled the nation to other SEATO states, most notably Pheu at first, and Nacrad, and China (Chengdu) later on. This has led to stress on the already overpopulated nations, particularly Nacrad, and refugees were made to live in "less than ideal" conditions in refugee camps. The UNHCR has not enacted any useful policy items to address this problem, and SEATO continues to almost singlehandedly handle this problem, though India has also contributed to the housing of refugees.

In Pop Culture
This war was the topic of discussion in Sabaton's song "Responsibility to Protect" in their latest album "Sic Transit Gloria".


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