The government of Myanmar, the State Administration Council (SAC), announced the activation of its 2010 conscription law, the People’s Military Law, starting February 10th.
Under the activated law, unskilled males and females ages 18–35 and 18–27, respectively, will be required to serve a mandatory two-year period in the military. Males and females ages 18–45 and females ages 18–45 who are considered ‘skilled’ (i.e., engineers, doctors, or people with other technical skills) will also be required to serve two years.
The Junta can extend the mandatory service period to five during national emergencies. Individuals who attempt to dodge or do not comply with draft notices will receive jail sentences ranging from one to three years.
The law’s activation is in response to the successes of various offensives, such as the 1027 and 1111 offensives, the People’s Defense Forces (PDFs), ethnic armies, and the Three Brotherhood Alliance, which began in October 2023. The offensives resulted in the loss of military bases and outposts in various states throughout Myanmar and the surrender of several hundred Junta personnel and equipment.
The rebels gained access to heavy machine guns and small caliber Air Defense Artillery which they used to down at least seven military aircraft, reducing the Junta’s air support capabilities. The offensive’s successes also forced the government forces to retreat to the Mandalay and Magwe regions, strategically important areas to the SAC and its supporters.
However, the successes also led to a severe increase in both desertion and recruits to replace the recent battlefield losses. The Junta likely recognized that it required the law to obtain the necessary troops to maintain the lines and to eventually push back the rebels. The activation of the law, however, would likely cause eligible individuals to leave the country as refugees or join the PDFs or other anti-government forces.
The activation law will also have a negative effect on Myanmar’s already struggling economy since they will also be conscripting individuals who would fulfill skilled roles, such as engineers and other individuals with technical skills. Furthermore, the law will also further strain the country’s healthcare system since doctors and other medical staff will be conscripted to serve in the military.