NUG establishes ‘chain of command’ in fight against regime 

Nearly two months after declaring a “resistance war” against Myanmar’s coup regime, the underground National Unity Government (NUG) has formed a central committee to coordinate military operations across the country, its defence ministry said on Thursday.

The newly formed Central Command and Coordination Committee aims to carry out coordinated attacks against the military junta under one chain of command, according to NUG defence secretary Naing Htoo Aung.

“The committee includes individuals from the NUG tasked with defence and military affairs, as well as leaders from some ethnic armed groups,” he said, speaking to Myanmar Now on Thursday.

When asked for more details about the composition of the committee and who would lead it, he declined to reveal which ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) were involved and said that it would operate under “a collective leadership.”

He added, however, that negotiations were still ongoing with a number of EAOs regarding their possible inclusion in the committee.

The committee will coordinate the operations of five commands—north, south, east, west, and central—as well as battalions operating directly under the NUG’s defence ministry, he said.

The NUG is hoping that the creation of a chain of command will help it transform the numerous local, self-organising resistance groups formed in the wake of ruthless crackdowns on non-violent anti-coup street protests into a unified fighting force.

It follows an announcement last month that it was stepping up its efforts to provide weapons and other support to anti-junta armed groups across the country in response to calls from guerrilla fighters for more assistance from the NUG.

“Strategic plans are underway in the committee to collaborate with EAOs to equip resistance forces and provide other assistance required for defence purposes,” Naing Htoo Aung said in an interview with Myanmar Now.

He added that while his ministry continues its consultations with EAOs, it is also arranging to appoint commanders who will go to the frontlines, and to accelerate collaboration with army officers who have defected from the regime.

“The role and capacity of commanders, especially when they need to make decisions on battlegrounds, is crucial. Experience means a lot,” he said.

PDF troops take part in training in an area under the control of an ethnic armed group (Supplied)

According to Naing Htoo Aung, the number of people joining NUG-backed People’s Defence Forces (PDFs) has grown steadily in recent months. He wouldn’t say, however, how many troops were believed to be currently available for active duty.

“We now have the capacity to go on many different battlefronts with many brigades and battalions,” he said, without providing any further details.

While the NUG has been seeking donations to fund its military operations, it has declined to reveal where it gets its weapons and other forms of assistance from.

Most of the recruits joining PDFs around the country are youths who have fled to border areas to receive military training in territory under the control of EAOs. 

Since the coup, areas that were previously free of armed conflict, such as Sagaing and Magway regions, have seen the emergence of armed resistance groups that have inflicted heavy casualties on regime forces.

Meanwhile, attacks on junta targets have become an almost daily occurrence in major urban centres such as Yangon and Mandalay, where guerrilla groups have been formed to oppose the regime that seized power in February. 

According to figures released by the NUG, the military suffered at least 2,478 casualties in more than 1,800 armed conflicts around the country between June and September.

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