Rebel offensive taking toll on Myanmar military’s cohesion, soldiers say (Rebecca Tan, Yan Naing and Andrew Nachemson, February 14, 2024, Washington Post)

Accounts from Myanmar army soldiers who have surrendered or defected over the past three months reveal that the military is suffering from plunging morale and overstretched logistics amid a rebel offensive that has prompted mass surrenders. […]

Myanmar’s military seized power in 2021 after ousting the democratically elected government. When protests erupted across the country, the military responded with force, and thousands of its opponents turned to armed resistance, in some cases making common cause with ethnic rebel groups. The military has sought to crush opposition with methods so brutal and indiscriminate that U.N. investigators say they are likely war crimes.

But last year, the rebels pushed the military into its weakest position in decades by capturing towns on the edges of the country and driving the junta’s forces toward the middle, analysts say.

Investigators at Myanmar Witness, an independent nongovernmental group that verifies developments in the Myanmar war, said they used open-source information to geolocate footage of five mass surrenders and weapon seizures since October. The investigators said that their efforts have only just begun and that their findings represent “the tip of the iceberg of the military’s losses.”

Researchers at the Institute for Strategy and Policy-Myanmar, a Myanmar-based think tank, are also working to verify surrenders, and Executive Director Min Zin said it is already apparent that the scale is unprecedented in the military’s history. Myanmar analysts from four other independent research institutions agreed.

“It speaks volumes about the military’s capacities that they had to accept this kind of situation,” said Richard Horsey, a senior adviser on Myanmar for the International Crisis Group.