The War in Myanmar: Karenni Resistance Fighters Need Stingers | The Gateway Pundit | by Antonio Graceffo

The War in Myanmar: Karenni Resistance Fighters Need Stingers

Members of the Karenni Army take part in a graduation ceremony for military trainees in October 2021 (KNPP/Facebook)

Antonio Graceffo

Reporting from inside the war zone in Myanmar/Burma

Americans are sick of solving the world’s problems, and many are fed up with funding Ukraine. However, the war in Myanmar/Burma is a just cause, and the locals are willing to do all the fighting if America would give them some surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) like the FIM-92 Stinger to counter Russian and Chinese helicopters and aircraft.

The war in Myanmar has been ongoing since 1948, with ethnic resistance armies fighting against the military junta. Three years ago, the junta allowed a popular election, which was won in a landslide by the National League for Democracy (NLD). Shortly afterward, the military invalidated the election, seized control of the government, and arrested elected members of parliament. The generals then began an unprecedented campaign of repression, extrajudicial killing, arbitrary detention, and terror.

In previous decades, the violence was largely focused on the ethnic minorities, who collectively comprise about half the population of the country. This time around, the government basically declared war on everyone, from school teachers and journalists to human rights activists and religious leaders—anyone who they saw as a threat. For the first time, large numbers of the Burman majority fled the cities to join the ethnic resistance armies fighting in the jungles.

David Eubanks, leader of the Free Burma Rangers (FBR), who has spent more than 25 years in this war, said, “There is a new unity in Burma against the dictators. The people are fighting for a free, democratic, and federal government where the ethnics will have rights. And that unity cuts across social, political, economic, ethnic, religious, racial, ideological, and tribal lines. And that is a unity I have never seen before—Burmans working with ethnics, ethnics working with ethnics.”

Although I have been in and out of Burma and Thailand over the years, my own experience with the war spans 20 years. I can attest to Eubanks’ observation: nearly all of the ethnic minorities are working together now, and most notably, they have been joined by Burmans, who also recognize that all of the people of Burma are victims.

A few of the ethnic armies, like the Karen and the Shan, have been fighting almost since the war began, so they have more experience. Some of the resistance armies are better equipped than others, but none have the airpower, armor, artillery, and troop numbers of the Tatmadaw, the junta’s army.

Presently, I am working with the Karenni, an ethnic group of about 400,000 people, about 75% of whom have been displaced. Like many Burmese who had hoped and waited patiently for better days, the 2021 coup was the last straw, which sucked the Karenni into the war. They were ill-equipped, inexperienced, untrained, and disorganized. But they are learning fast, and they are motivated by seeing their families, their villages, their homes, and their people murdered, gang-raped, and burned alive.

A battalion commander of the Karenni Army (KA) told me, “The Tatmadaw is better equipped, but we have better hearts.”

In violation of international sanctions, the Tatmadaw receives financial support from China and has helicopters and aircraft, small arms, mortars, artillery, and armor from both Russia and China. The ethnic resistance armies do not receive any major support from the international community. The airstrikes are the biggest problem for the resistance. Everyone I talked to, from the lowest soldier to the high-ranking officers, government officials, and even housewives and religious leaders, told me, “We need something to shoot down the planes. Please tell the Americans to send us weapons against airstrikes.”

Karenni Army (KA) weapons, photo by Antonio Graceffo

Taking inventory in the armory at Karenni Army (KA) post, the weapons were less than state-of-the-art. There were cheap knockoffs of American weapons that would stop working fairly quickly. The best weapons were the ones left over from the Vietnam War, and those were completely shot out and rattling. But the Karenni are hill people, and they know how to fight and survive in the jungle.

American soldiers are used to having choppers or convoys bring them their chow and resupply. The Karenni only have what they carry. U.S. soldiers take things like ration packs, meals ready to eat (MRE), for granted. Karenni soldiers carry rice in their backpacks, and the only way to eat it is to stop, make a fire, and boil it for thirty minutes. In combat, they don’t usually have thirty minutes, so they don’t eat.

Also, how much rice can you possibly carry on your back? They go out for weeks at a time, humping up and down the mountains, and when they get hit with airstrikes, all they can do is go to ground and take cover.

Eubanks described the air attacks: “Chinese jet fighters come three at a time. Aircraft drop 500-pound bombs, 200-pound bombs, and 50-pound bombs… Then there are the attack helicopters, firing cannons and machine guns.” The craziest thing he talked about was the Chinese Y12 transports: “which they use to drop cassettes of 81mm mortars out the back, like eight at a time, 12 at a time sometimes hand dropping them one by one. And that’ll fly over you for four hours, dropping mortars on you.”

While Burma is a Buddhist-majority country, about half of the Karenni are Christian. They ask that Americans and the world pray for them, send humanitarian aid for their displaced civilians, send surface-to-air missiles, and provide recognition to the National Unity Government (NUG), the government in exile.

Additionally, they need the world community to pressure China and Russia into ceasing their support for the generals.

Photo of author

Dr. Antonio Graceffo, PhD, China MBA, is an economist and national security analyst with a focus on China and Russia. He is a graduate of American Military University.

You can email Antonio Graceffo here, and read more of Antonio Graceffo’s articles here.