“Soldiers who are absent without leave will not return to military service. They have experienced various difficulties. They will not likely perform military duties again.

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The military used to take serious actions against its deserters in the past, but on December 3, it announced amnesty for those who are willing to rejoin military services. Soldiers who were absent without leave (AWOL) before December 3 will not also be enlisted as deserters if they return for military services without taking any action.

This interview with former Captain Kaung Thu Win, who joined civil disobedience movement, is about legal action against the absence without leave, his view on reacceptance of deserters and declining situation of the military council.

TLT:  The military council has announced the reacceptance of deserters. What is the provisions of legal action against deserters under the Defence Services Act?

Captain Kaung Thu Win: Absence without leave is termed as deserting. The AWOL includes failure to arrive in the designated point at any scheduled time without concrete reason. The AWOL is automatically listed as the deserter after 21 days of notice. When he is arrested, he will have to face a severe penalty which depends on the type of deserting whether he was absent with a weapon or not, negligence to military operation. The verdict is laid down as per the defense service act.

  Than Lwin Time: What does the recent offer to reaccept AWOLs and ex- soldiers indicate the situation of the military council? Does it mean the military is collapsing?

Captain Kaung Thu Win: Almost all AWOLs never rejoin the military services. They have experienced various difficulties and risks of their lives at the frontlines. They will not be interested in performing military duties again. Veteran soldiers were also hired with daily wages for security duties since the military coup. Some ex-soldiers are talking online about their desire to perform military duties again, but few of them would go to the frontlines.

TLT: The military council has suffered losses in ground battles since the beginning of Operation 1027, and will soldiers at the frontlines endure from the long-term battles?

Captain Kaung Thu Win: Only news soldiers could be recruited for the army since the military coup. There were also casualties in the battle, while some died of diseases and some were dismissed. The number of soldiers has declined in the army. Although infantry and light infantry battalions deployed about 200 soldiers for each operation in the past, they can now use only 80 soldiers for each mission. It is a very low number.

TLT: To what extent could the military council use its army, navy and air force in the future battles?

Captain Kaung Thu Win: The army has no more enough force for offensives. They would prepare for the defensive wars. They will conduct airstrikes on their enemies.

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