Saturday, August 31, 2013

Military Build-ups Intensify On Burma-Bangladesh Border

(Compilation of translated articles from various Burmese and Bengali blogs last week.)

BGB Battalion-50 inaugurated by General Ahmed.
Last May a new battalion of BGB (Border Guards Bangladesh) the BGB Battalion-50 was established at Ramu (Old Panwar Town as Burmese called it) on the Bangladeshi side of the Bangladesh-Burma border.

The launching ceremony of BGB-50 was held on May-19 at Ramu and BGB-chief Major-General Aziz Ahmed attended the ceremony. Formerly known as Bangladesh Rifles the BGB under the Bangladesh Ministry of Home Affairs is a paramilitary police force responsible for border security in Bangladesh.

Almost 100,000 strong BGB has four regional commands and volatile Burma border in Chittagong Administrative Division of Bangladesh is controlled by BGB’s South-Eastern Regional Command with 20 BGB battalions out of total 62 BGB battalions all over Bangladesh.

Headquartered in Khagrachari BGB’s S-Eastern Regional Command has five sector commands namely Bagaichari, Bandarban, Chattagram, Khagrachari, and Rangamatti sector-commands.

Six BGB battalions and One Infantry Division On Burma Border

There are six BGB battalions now on the Bangladesh side of Burma border. BGB-42 at Taknaf, BGB-17 at Cox Bazzar, BGB-31 at Naikhongcharri, BGB-10 at Bandarban, and Newly-formed BGB-50 at Ramu. Another new battalion BGB-51 is now being formed at Panchari in Khagrachari District.

All BGB battalions supported by heavily-armed Bangladeshi Army and well-equipped Bangladeshi Navy are at striking distances from Burma border. Nearly 10% of Border Guards Bangladesh is now on Burma border which is just over 200 km a less than 5% of 4427 km of Bangladesh’s total shared-border.

Out of its seven infantry divisions Bangladeshi Army (250,000 strong) has based its 24th Infantry Division at Chittagong only 50 miles away from the nearest Burmese border point while the Division’s 5,000-strong 69th Infantry Brigade bases at Bandarban right behind the BGB battalions on Burma border.
Bangladeshi Army's organizational structure (2011).
For many years Muslim-Bangladeshi Army has maintained four fortified-military bases namely Bandarban, Chittagong, Khagrachari, and Rangamati bases for the dual purpose of brutally suppressing the native Buddhist rebellions in the predominantly-Buddhist Chittagong-Hill-Tracts, and simultaneously facing the potential threats from across-the-border Buddhist-Burmese army which itself has been busy suppressing Islamist-Mujahid rebellions in predominantly-Muslim Northern-Arakan.

Bangladesh Army’s infantry brigades and BGB battalions are also supported by substantial numbers of battle-tanks and medium-ranged artillery units now positioned along the Burma border.

More Than Ten Light Infantry Battalions on Burma Side?

There are at least ten LIBs (Light Infantry Battalion) of Burma Army’s 15th MOC (Military Operation Command) taking position in Northern Arakan’s Maung Daw District right across the border from Bangladesh’s Bandarban District where Bangladesh Army’s 69th Infantry Brigade and not less than six BGB battalions are now entrenched.

MOC-15’s three battalions namely LIB-352 and LIB-353 at Maungdaw-South and LIB-535 at Ahlkethangyaw are taking positions near the southern part of Bangladesh border. In Maungdaw-North at least four army battalions including LIB-345, LIB-551, LIB-552 are now positioned right by the border line while LIB-564 at Butheedaung-North and LIB-565 and LIB-537 at the border of Kyauktaw and Butheedaung townships are taking positions as the reserve battalions behind the MOC-15’s ten front-line LIBs.

Burmese forces patrolling the Bangladesh-border fence.
MOC-15’s commander is Brigadier-General Kyaw Kyaw Soe who now headquarters at Butheedaung about 20 miles behind the borderline. A MOC controlling 10 to 15 infantry battalions in Burmese army is equivalent to a western-style brigade.

The whole Arakan State is controlled militarily from Ann-based Western Regional Command (Na-pa-kha in  Burmese) which was originally based in Sittwe near Bangladeshi border and later moved to more defendable and secured Ann in around 2008-2009 as part of the preparations for a future border war with Bangladesh.

Three Security Police (Lone-htain) Battalions on the Border

Like Bangladesh’s BGB battalions Burmese police’s paramilitary security battalions are integral part of border security on Burma side. Nearly a thousand-strong each Lone-htain battalion now controls the border towns Sittwe and Maungdaw and Butheetaung.

Border land on Burma side is basically divided into 9 territories and each Lone-htain battalion controls 3 territories. SPB-2 or the Second Security Police Battalion based at Maungdaw is responsible for Border Region Territory 1, 2, and 3. SPB-13 based at Butheetaung for territory 4, 5, and 6 and SPB-10 based at Sittwe for territory 7, 8, and 9.

IMHO former British prime minister Tony Blair was right in declaring just last year that Burma's western border with Bangladesh is one of the hottest spots on this planet being critically disturbed by the global Islamists. Did he really say that or was it just an Internet rumor?

Combined map of troops-positions on both Burma and Bangladesh borderland-territories.

Related posts at following links:
Naval Arms Race between Burma and Bangladesh
Russian Submarines for Burma Navy: Kilos or Foxtrots?