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The Arms Keep Coming — But Who Pays?

Irrawaddy (Burma), Opinion

4 August 2004

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Continued Military Expansion

When the armed forces took back direct political power in 1988, they launched an ambitious defense expansion and modernization program.

Since then, the regime has consistently spent a greater proportion of central government outlays on defense than any other country in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Burmese armed forces have doubled in size, making them the second largest in Southeast Asia and, by some calculations, the 15th largest in the world.

New command and control structures have been put in place, and capabilities in key support areas like intelligence, communications and logistics have been substantially upgraded. The country's military infrastructure has also been improved.

In addition, the Burma Army has acquired a wide range of tracked and wheeled armor, towed and self-propelled artillery, air defense weapons, transport, small arms and communications equipment.

The air force has taken delivery of more than 150 helicopters, fighters, ground attack, transport and training aircraft.

The Burma Navy too has expanded dramatically, with new corvettes, missile patrol boats, offshore patrol vessels and riverine craft.

ID: N164

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