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433 Section V, I, Profile 106 Reproduced from Maung Maung, “106” in The Guardian III, no. 1 (November 1955): 21–23, by permission of Daw Khin Myint, wife of the late Dr Maung Maung. Thakin Than Tun does not like 106, for this commando unit of the Burma Army, officially known as “Special Battalion 106” has been chasing him all over the country. For many months 106 chased Than Tun or his men in the “three-M triangle” — the area between Meiktila, Myingyan and Mandalay — until he had to resort to moving constantly with a few loyal troops as his own bodyguards. Than Tun’s camps were broken, his headquarters were captured, his documents seized, his weapons taken. Only a few loyal men and the clothes that he wears and his own boundless conceit remain with Than Tun. The rest, 106, in combination with its brother special units 107, 108, 105 and 104 have taken. x x x x x The idea of commando warfare to combat the highly mobile Communists and other rebels first presented itself to General Ne Win 05I DrMaung.indd 433 1/24/08 5:54:27 PM Reproduced from Dr Maung Maung: Gentleman, Scholar, Patriot by Robert H. Taylor (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2008). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at 434 DR MAUNG MAUNG: Gentleman, Scholar, Patriot and the planners of the Burma Army when the insurrections were at their fiercest. It was thought that if a few special units could be trained and equipped for long range penetration and raiding sorties they could be highly effective, and even, perhaps, decisive. But 1949 and 1950 were busy years for the Burma Army. The handful of officers and men had to be everywhere almost at the same time, and all that they could do was fight as best they could without any serious attempt at planning and organisation. Later, when the forces had some time to re-group and consolidate, commando warfare was carried out as part of bigger operations and by way of experiments. In the reduction of Pyuntaza, Brigadier Kyaw Zaw committed a few companies in short range penetration sorties; in the assault on Toungoo, Colonel Saw Myint used some long range penetration columns; in the clearance of the Moulmein-Thaton sector, Col. Saw Myint again resorted frequently to LRP tactics. One major triumph for commando warfare was won when two specially picked companies of 2nd Brigade commanded by Col. Saw Myint penetrated deep into Karen rebel territory and rescued Col. Maung Maung and a few other officers held captive by the rebels. The special force returned bringing back the treasured prizes, but it left behind a few of its men dead in enemy territory. The force won two posthumous “V.C.’s” or Aungsanthuriya, and final recognition for the efficacy of commando warfare. Col. Maung became a key planner at the War Office, and naturally, his early efforts were directed toward the raising of commando units. He and his colleague, Col. Aung Gyi, G.S.O, (l), raised the special units almost with their bare hands. 108 was born first, and later, in July 1954, 106, 105 and 104 arrived next, and by whim or design in numbering, 107 arrived last. The four special battalions went into action immediately after their birth. x x x x x Lt. Colonel Aung Pe, commander of 106, stressed the point that though his battalion was a “special force”, it was just one of the many fighting units of the Burma Army. He told me, when I met him at the 106 camp at the foot of Mandalay Hill recently, that the battalion had hardly ever fought openly in its own name. He and his men are always on call by the army sub-district commands or the brigade in whose area 05I DrMaung.indd 434 1/24/08 5:54:28 PM 106 435 they are stationed. When they go out on special missions, therefore, they go as a wing of the garrison troops in the area. “If the Communists or the rebels knew that 106 was coming, or any other special force for that matter, they would disappear very promptly and that is not what we want. We rely mainly on surprise; minus...


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