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March 9-15, 2023 | Issue 4 - PACOM and Weapons/Tactics

Agathe Labadi, Arnold R. Koka, Sonia Savci, Virginia Martos Blanco, Martina Sclaverano

Evan Beachler, Editor; Deepankar Patil, Senior Editor

Myanmar military junta[1]

Date: March 9, 2023

Location: Near Saung Pyaung Village, Pinlaung Township, Shan State, Myanmar

Parties involved: Myanmar Army; Karenni Army (KA); Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF); Burmese civilians; Shan’s Pinlaung’s residents; Pa-O National Army (PNA); Pa-O National Organization (PNO); criminal organizations located in the region; China; Laos; Thailand

The event: Myanmar junta troops clashed with KA and KNDF insurgents near Saung Pyaung Village in Shan’s Pinlaung Township, causing the displacement of 5000 local residents. The event followed the Karenni groups’ attack on a joint junta-PNA military outpost on February 24 and the capturing of local villages.[2] Karenni insurgents aim to establish their independent state by targeting military facilities to seize light infantry weapons, ammunition, vehicles, and uniforms.[3] The government has previously changed the legislation, authorizing firearm ownership for loyal civilians.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The KA and KNDF will very likely increase attacks against the military junta’s outposts in the southern Shan state to seize light infantry weapons, hand grenades, and ammunition stocks. The attacks will very likely include ambushes against moving columns of military junta forces in the Kayah and southern Shan states to maximize shock. It is unlikely the insurgents will further extend their operational range to attack the military’s arms production facilities which are concentrated in the Magway state.

  • The KA and KNDF will very likely seek to seize control of opium cultivation in the Shan state to gain a strategic economic advantage against the military junta. The insurgents will very likely establish ties with criminal networks, such as the Sam Gor group, active in drug trafficking via the Golden Triangle Area. This will likely activate new opportunities for weapons smuggling following the same routes. Tensions will likely break out between the Karenni resistance and other ethnic armed organizations competing for opium exports toward southern China, Laos, and Thailand.

  • The Burmese military will likely increase recruitment of loyal state-supporting civilians following the clashes. The new firearm legislation will likely ease light weapons distribution via non-official channels and facilitate civilian support. This will likely increase insecurity among insurgent ranks, creating further instability and escalation of street violence. The humanitarian situation will likely deteriorate and cause further displacement to neighboring countries, such as Thailand.

Date: March 10, 2023

Location: Negros Oriental, Philippines

Parties involved: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.; Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo; The Armed Forces of the Philippines Special Operations Command (AFPSOCOM); Philippine Light Reaction Regiment (LRR); New People’s Army (NPA); Philippine police; US armed forces; Islamic State

The event: President Marcos Jr. ordered the deployment of 50 troops from the LRR counterterrorism unit to combat the rise of crime in the Negros island. This follows last week’s killing of Degamo. The LRR specializes in anti-guerrilla operations, hostage rescue, high-value targeting, and sniper support to police and the military. The regiment was previously deployed to counter rebels linked to the Islamic State.[5]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The AFPSOCOM will likely extend operations to NPA and other terrorist groups active in Negros island to target their criminal activities employed for financial purposes. Manhunts and targeted killing operations will very likely focus on high-value targets to eradicate terrorist leadership. This will likely lead to violent intra-group competition for control and the emergence of new factions. The proliferation of smaller terrorist organizations will likely increase conflicts between groups and local terror-crime alliances.

  • Political interests and corruption will likely make local law enforcement unreliable, increasing the bias of intelligence available. This will likely drive the LRR to increase its reliance on geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) and signal intelligence (SIGINT) rather than on local informants. The lack of human intelligence (HUMINT) will likely slow down intelligence collection, delaying operations planning. The unit will very likely request further intelligence support from its central command, AFPSOCOM.


[2] Thousands Displaced as Myanmar Junta Forces Clash With Karenni Resistance, The Irrawaddy, March 2023,

[3] Taking Aim at the Tatmadaw: The New Armed Resistance to Myanmar’s Coup, International Crisis Group, June 2021,

[4] As the Conflict Worsens, Myanmar’s Junta Arms the Populace, The Diplomat, March 2023,

[5] Philippines: Elite Troops Deployed To Central Island Following Killings, Eurasia Review, March 2023,



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