Junta moves to ‘fortify Naypyitaw at all costs’

The already stretched military assigns soldiers to new posts in the mountains around Naypyitaw to defend the junta-controlled capital from potential attacks by the resistance

The junta reportedly set up additional outposts in the mountains around Naypyitaw in early November in an effort to prevent resistance forces from infiltrating the military-controlled capital.

A local police officer told Myanmar Now on the condition of anonymity that these sites were being established in the Bago Yoma mountain range in Lewe and Pyinmana townships. 

“Security measures in [the city of] Naypyitaw are normal, like before,” he said, adding that the changes being implemented by the junta were in the “mountainous adjacent areas.” 

A local source told Myanmar Now that the military had set up four checkpoints on roads leading to the Bago and Shan Yoma ranges, each manned by between five and 10 armed troops. Soldiers reportedly warned those travelling through these areas to report any sightings of resistance groups, according to another resident. 

“They summoned us to gather information on the current situation on the ground,” he said, noting that two Light Infantry Battalions—604 and 605—were still stationed in the area, but most of the soldiers from these units had been sent to guard the mountain posts, leaving their families on the bases without reinforcements.

Inspections at the toll gate entering Naypyitaw have recently grown stricter, but a major roundabout—Tha Pyay Kone—which was closed for more than two years following the February 2021 coup, reopened to the public on November 12. While bunkers, security checkpoints, and a small police presence remain at the site, the soldiers who once were stationed there have been reassigned as the military grows increasingly stretched by fighting on multiple frontlines throughout the country. 

The regime’s reduced manpower is visible elsewhere, residents said, pointing to the dismantling of another junta post in Pyinmana Township on the old Yangon-Mandalay road.

Maung Maung Swe, the publicly mandated National Unity Government (NUG)’s deputy secretary for the Ministry of Defence, told Myanmar Now that the military’s personnel shortage likely meant that bases were being consolidated. Troops from various closed posts may also have been sent to the mountains around Naypyitaw, he speculated. 

“The disbanding of the Tha Pyay Kone roundabout happened for a reason,” he explained. “[The military council] has to send forces from the city to the edges of Naypyitaw to prevent revolutionary forces from entering, so the manpower of security forces in the city has been reduced.” 

As the resistance takes control of several cities in northern Shan State and the Myanmar army is forced to withdraw, civil servants in the junta capital say that the regime authorities have instructed troops to prioritise the protection of high-ranking officers and junta officials in the case of an attack. 

“After the town occupation battles, people living in Naypyitaw are worried and afraid,” one civil servant told Myanmar Now.

The NUG’s Maung Maung Swe said that the junta would likely do anything to protect its capital.

“Their strategy is to fortify Naypyitaw at all costs, even if it means sacrificing the lives of their soldiers and the people. They will defend Naypyitaw until the end.”

Naypyitaw borders southern Shan State to the east, Magway Region to the west, Mandalay to the north and Bago Region and Karen State to the south. There are several resistance forces active in these areas, including the Karenni National Defence Force, the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army, and various chapters of the People’s Defence Force.

While guerrilla activity in Naypyitaw has been limited, NUG defence minister Yee Mon said that forces under its command have announced an “all roads to Naypyitaw” operation intent on eventually overrunning the junta capital in their efforts to drive out the military.

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