Ministry of Defense

Ministry of Defence

Background History of Ministry of Defence

British government enacted ‘Government of Burma Act, 1935’ on 2nd August 1935. Burma was separated from India and has become separate colonial country in the British Empire since 1st April 1937. Since then Government of Burma was organized separately.

During the period of separating Burma from provinces of India, reconstruction centre was founded around 1930. It was founded for maintaining the momentum of administrative proceedings when government of Burma was established later. One of the important tasks of that centre is planning to organize armed forces and long-term defence matters of Burma after it was separated from India.

When government of Burma was established after separating it from India, the aforementioned reconstruction centre was reorganized as defence department. Secretary of reconstruction was also appointed as secretary of defence. Since then, defence department, government of Burma was established on 1st April 1937 at secretariat office, Rangoon.

Other departments appointed Burma nationals as ministers, while the Governor himself managed defence department with assistance of counsellors, not exceeding three in number, by Article 7(2) of Burma Act. The department functioned administration of defence, ecclesiastical affairs, the federated Shan States, the Arakan Hill Tracts, the Chin Hill District, the Kachin Hill Tracts, the Somra Tract, the area known as the Triangle, the area known as the Hukawng Valley lying to the north of the Upper Chindwin District, the Salween District, all tribal territories, the control of monetary policy, currency and coinage, and functions with respect to external affairs, except the relations between Burma and any part of His Majesty’s dominions, were exercised by him in his discretion, and his functions in or in relation to areas in Burma which were not part of the territories of His Majesty were similarly exercised.

By the time Burma Defence Department was inaugurated on 1st April 1937, Burma Army comprised 4 rifle regiments, 1 Officer Auxiliary Force, 8 Burma Territorial Forces, 3 Burma Military Police Forces, a few territorial forces and city guard. Minorities from hill tracts, but none of Burma nationals, were appointed as non-commissioned officers and soldiers at rifle regiments. By 1940, Sir MaungGyi of Burma national was appointed as counsellor, and a decision was made to resume a section including Burma nationals only who were allotted to serve at other regiments. Around that period, however, threat of Japan from the Far East was getting nearer and nearer, thus, the Army had to be expanded urgently. Military police forces and territorial forces were transformed as infantry regiments at which members of auxiliary forces were appointed as officers, and they took defensive action against Japan in Taninthari Division.

Burma Amateur Navy and Air Force were inaugurated in the year of appointing a Burma national as counsellor. At that time, there was no aircraft at Air Force, but a few coast guard ships at Navy.

Since Burma Independence Army together with Japan Army marched into Taninthari through Thailand, defence department in Rangoon and respective forces retreated to India via Maymyo on 21st February 1942. As each and every force under the department was dispersed, some officers and soldiers got along to India and some went back to their native.

Defence Department was reorganized its office in Shimla, India in the mid of June 1942. It recollected dispersed infantry units to make offensive attacks in Burma. Officers and soldiers of Navy and Air Force were appointed at Indian Navy and British Royal Air Force respectively.

Rangoon was being governed by military rule after British troops had seized it in March 1945, thus Defence Department had to move there from Shimla as late as 23rd November 1945.

General Aung San became the first Burma national who was appointed as Governor’s counsellor at Defence Department on 28th September 1946, as political situations fluctuated after seizing Burma again. During his tenure as defence counsellor, plans were made to separate political department.

Defence Department discharged complete functions of national defence and resumed a few of ecclesiastical affairs. On 19th July 1947, General Aung San was assassinated, thus Brigadier General Latyar was substituted as Governor’s counsellor.

On 15th December 1947, Burma Amateur Air Force was reorganized as Burma Air Force, and Burma Amateur Navy as Burma Navy on 24th December 1947, respectively. The very first flagship of Burma Navy was UVS May Yu.

Government of Burma Act 1935 came to an end and National Constitutions were enacted right after declaring independence by hoisting national flag on 4th January 1948.

Since then Defence Department exercised functions of national defence only. Burma Army, Burma Navy and Burma Air Force became apparent with their own flags and emblems, each of which was led by Burma brethren in such a way defence, development and prosperity were prioritized in Burmese way. Burmese brethren escaped from performing duties for interest of British Government, and could serve noble duties for safeguarding their own people and religion.

Required laws for defence ministry were being enacted at two parliaments by majority votes according to Burma Constitution. Critical matters were reported for decision to the cabinet instead of the only Governor.

Counsellor for defence was firstly renamed as Defence Minister for administering defence department under which were Army Headquarters, Naval Office and Air Force Office.

 

Locations of Minister’s Office, Ministry of Defence

On 8th May 1948, War Office was established by organizing Burma Military Headquarters, Burma Navy Headquarters and Burma Air Force Headquarters. Bo Latyar started discharging duties as minister. Minister’s Office and Permanent Secretary Office were moved to No. 77, Signal Pagoda Road, Rangoon.

Permanent Secretary Office of War Office remained as the secretariat of defence department of War Office in 1952. The secretariat comprised 17 sections in which 10 officials and 135 personnel, a total of 145, served staff duty.

War Office was reorganized as Ministry of Defence on 1 January 1956. The then Minister for Defence was U Ba Swe. In that reorganized ministry, there were Office of Commander-in-Chief, Office of Adjutant General, Office of Quarter Master General, the Secretariat (Defence), Office of Appointment Secretary, Office of Military Inspection, and Account Office.

During Caretaker Government from September 1958 to March 1960, General Ne Win concurrently discharged responsibilities of Prime Minister and Minister for Defence. During the government led by Union Party, the winning party of 1960 elections, Prime Minister U Nu also concurrently served as Minister for Defence.

On 2 March 1962, Revolution Council Government led by General Ne Win came into power and he served as Commander-in-Chief and Minister for Defence concurrently.

The Secretariat (Defence) was abolished in the afternoon of 15 March 1972 according to the Union of Burma Revolution Party Announcement No. 97 of that date, and Minister’s Office, Ministry of Defence performed its duties with three branches.

Minister’s Office has been situated in Ministry of Defence Compound at No. 77, Signal Pagoda Road, Rangoon from 1948 to 22nd May 1978. Then it was moved to former National Defence College building (now Yuzana Garden Hotel) at No. 44, Signal Pagoda Road, MingalarTaungnyunt Township.

In March 1995, it was moved to former Directorate of Resettlement building at No. 24, corner of Archive Street and Min Kyaung Street, and then on 18 April 2002, it was moved again to Nawaday Compound, Kabaraye Pagoda Road, Mayangone Township, Yangon.

After that, it was moved to Office No. 20, Nay Pyi Taw on 7 February 2006, and again to Office No. 24 on 23 July 2010.

 

Senior Officers who served as Commander-in-Chief cum Minister for Defence

There are 6 senior officers who concurrently served as Commander-in-Chief and Minister for Defence from General Ne Win to Senior General ThanShwe as follows:

No.

Name

Tenure

From

To

1.

General Ne Win

2-3-1962

20-4-1972

2.

General San Yu

21-4-1972

7-4-1974

3.

General Tin Oo

8-3-1974

6-3-1976

4.

General ThuraKyawHtin

7-3-1976

27-7-1988

5.

Senior General Saw Maung

28-7-1988

19-3-1992

6.

Senior General Than Shwe

20-3-1992

29-3-2011

 

 

Organization and Functions of Ministry of Defence

The organizational structure of Ministry of Defence is different from that of other ministries. Other ministries command and control directly its subordinate departments, corporations and boards.

However, Ministry of Defence is a unique one in combination with command offices such as Minister’s office, Army, Navy, Air Force, Adjutant and Quarter Master, and directorates of respective corps. Furthermore command offices in Ministry of Defence collaborate with each other in discharging duties.

In 2014, reconstruction procedures were taken in action to modify organizational structures of government administrative mechanism in line with current situation. Therefore the cabinet meeting of Union Government (17/2014) endorsed to organize permanent secretary office, and consequently Ministry of Defence has been discharging its functions in accordance with the said organizational structure.

 

List of Successive Ministers for Defence

No.

Name

Tenure

From

To

1.

Bo Latyar

1-8-1947

13-9-1948

2.

U Nu

14-9-1948

3-4-1949

3.

Major General Ne Win

4-4-1949

9-9-1950

4.

U Win

18-9-1950

15-3-1952

5.

U Ba Swe

16-3-1952

4-6-1958

6.

Major Aung

9-6-1958

28-9-1958

7.

General Ne Win

29-9-1958

15-3-1960

8.

U Nu

16-3-1960

2-3-1962

9.

General Ne Win

3-3-1962

20-4-1972

10.

General San Yu

21-4-1972

7-3-1974

11.

General Tin Oo

8-3-1974

6-3-1976

12.

General ThuraKyawHtin

7-3-1976

27-7-1988

13.

Senior General Saw Maung

28-7-1988

19-3-1992

14.

Senior General Than Shwe

20-3-1992

29-3-2011

15.

Lieutenant General Hla Min

30-3-2011

7-9-2012

16.

Lieutenant General Wai Lwin

8-9-2012

12-8-2015

17.

Lieutenant General Sein Win

25-8-2015

incumbent

 

Website Address:

www.mod.gov.mm