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Civil-Military Coordination of Tatmadaw in Myanmar: Challenges of Coordination in

Disaster Relief, and Resettlement

1B 5092

PMPP

International University of Japan

2017
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Contents

Abstract .............................................................................................................................. iii

Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 1

Literature Review............................................................................................................ 2

Background ..................................................................................................................... 3

Floods and Landslides in 2015 ................................................................................... 4

Civil-Military Coordination in Disaster Relief and Resettlement .............................. 5

Organizational Environments and Stakeholders ......................................................... 7

Challenges ....................................................................................................................... 9

Collaborative Governance ............................................................................................ 11

Facilitative Leadership .............................................................................................. 11

Institutional Design (Mechanistic to Organic organization) ..................................... 12

Collaborative Process................................................................................................ 12

Recommendation .......................................................................................................... 14

Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 16

References ..................................................................................................................... 17
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Abstract

The current Civil-Military Coordination of Tatmadaw should be strengthened to effective

Civil-Military Coordination in the operation of disaster relief and resettlement. Thus, this paper

explores a case that includes the Tatmadaw’s Civil-Military Coordination (CMC) in disaster relief,

and resettlement in Myanmar especially in the case of floods and landslides in 2015. The study

examines what the role of Tatmadaw in coordination with multi-stakeholders in the operation and

explores the case with collaborative governance approach and contingency theory. Primarily, this

paper focuses on the challenges of Civil-Military Coordination in disaster relief, and resettlement

between Tatmadaw and multi-stakeholders, and also provides a solution to achieve effective Civil-

Military Coordination for the Tatmadaw.

Keywords: Civil-Military Coordination, Collaborative Governance, Contingency Theory

Mechanistic Organization and Organic Organization
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Civil-Military Coordination of Tatmadaw in Myanmar: Challenges of Coordination

in Disaster Relief, and Resettlement

Introduction

The global environments are increasingly unstable, dynamic, and complex. The greatest

devastation to life and property is an unpredictable natural disaster. Such natural disasters caused

great socio-economic loss. In general, not only Myanmar but many places in the world are also

facing natural disasters due to the climate change. Myanmar also frequently experiences cyclones,

floods, landslides and earthquakes. Typically, Myanmar is one of the countries at highest risk of

natural disasters in South East Asia. Thus, protecting Myanmar from natural disasters has never

been more important as it is today. Nowadays, Myanmar ranks 2 out of 187 countries in the Global

Climate Risk Index (Kreft, Eckstein, and Melchior, 2017) and the country ranks 12 out of 191

countries in the Index of Risk Management (INFORM, 2017, p.24). Thus, the country needs to

overcome the non-traditional security threats and challenges.

In fact, the Military Organization so-called “Tatmadaw” (Myoe, 2009) has been serving

the interests of the people in political, economic and social sectors in accompanying with the

government, the parliament and the public organizations in Myanmar (Myoe, 2014). During the

last 10 years, Myanmar has been impacted by three serious cyclones, three major earthquakes, and

floods. Thus, the Tatmadaw has been taking part in rescue and rehabilitation works for the natural

disaster-hit victims in joining hands with concerned departments, non-governmental organizations

and local people.

Thus, this paper explores a case that include the Tatmadaw’s Civil-Military Coordination

(CMC) in disaster relief, and resettlement in Myanmar especially in the case of floods and
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landslides in 2015. The core objective of this study has to scrutinize what the role of Tatmadaw in

coordination with the multi-stakeholders in disaster relief, and resettlement and explores the case

with the contingency theory and collaborative governance approach in this study. Mainly, this

paper emphases on the challenges of CMC in disaster relief and resettlement between Tatmadaw

and multi-stakeholders, and also provides a recommendation to achieve effective CMC of the

Tatmadaw.

Literature Review

In contemporary organizational theory and practice, Ansell and Gash (2008) have explored

collaborate governance and it consists of the government, communities and private sectors by

communicating with each other and working together to succeed more than any one sector and

also could achieve on its particular mission. Particularly, “it is a type of governance in which public

and private actors work collectively in distinctive ways, using particular process, to establish laws

and rules for the provision of public goods” (Ansell & Gash, 2008, p. 545). This approach of

governance could bring multi-stakeholders together in common opportunities and its support to

collaborate in the operation for getting effective outcome in the process. Moreover, Stoker (1998)

also argued that the using of baseline agreement and collaboration is refers to the development of

governing styles between and within public and private sectors (p. 17).

By considering on institutional design through the contingency approach, Burns and

Stalker (1961) argued that mechanistic organization was appropriate for stable conditions while

the organic type was better suited to changing conditions. On the other hand, Thompson (1967)

argued that organizations deal with uncertainties in their environment by creating specific elements
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(e.g. more flexible and decentralized structures and procedures) are able to focus on the rational

nature of technical operations.

Figure 1: Model of Collaborative Governance

Source: Ansell and Gash (2008), p.550.

Background

In general, Tatmadaw has been extensively engaging in several disasters relief and

resettlement as well as donate by cash for disaster victims in real time. As the article-341 of

Myanmar’s constitution, it has stipulated that “Tatmadaw shall render assistance when calamities

that affect the Union and its citizens occur in the Union” (The congress of Myanmar, 2008, p.149).

Moreover, Tatmadaw plays a principle role in times of emergency and also one of the main duties

of Tatmadaw is “serving the interest of the people perpetually” (Than, 2001, p.167). Generally,

although all the military organization have same organizational characteristics, some are difference

among them. Also, Tatmadaw has the following characteristics as shown in Figure 2.
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Figure 2: Tatmadaw’s Characteristics

Source: Adapted from Myoe (2009).

In the typical disaster management cycle, it usually consists of prevention, response and

recovery. Due to the enactment of the Natural Disaster Management Law on 31 July 2013,

Tatmadaw shall commit to disaster preparedness before the disaster, search and rescue, emergency

response during disaster and rehabilitation and resettlement after the disaster. Thus, Tatmadaw

also has drawn up systematic disaster management plan in each disaster management operation in

cooperating with the multi-stakeholders such as government, relevant ministries, the regional

governments, non-governmental organizations, international non-governmental organizations and

the local citizens.

Floods and Landslides in 2015

In July 2015, Myanmar faced heavy seasonal rains and storm winds from Cyclone Komen.

It resulted flooding in twelve States and Divisions out of fourteen in Myanmar. Unfortunately,

nearly 1.7 million people and 399,913 households were directly affected by the flooding

(UNOCHA, 2017), which displayed in Figure 3. Also, it has inundated more than 1.2 million acres

of farmland and some of public services infrastructures in the disaster-affected areas also have

been damaged by the floods and Landslides. By the end of October, almost all of the displaced

people had returned to their villages of origin. However, many roads and bridges were destroyed

by the flood in the most of disaster-affected areas and it has been as a major logistical challenge

for the assistance delivery (Oo, 2015).
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Figure 3: Flood Affected Areas in 2015

Source: UNOCHA (2017).

Civil-Military Coordination in Disaster Relief and Resettlement

In the operation, Tatmadaw has utilized massive resources such as manpower, military

vehicles and equipment power, which could assist in the flood relief mission to the possible degree

in carrying out rescue and relief work. Specifically, Tatmadaw has assigned five Light Infantry

Divisions (LID) and Regional Air Force Squadrons which were closely commanded by Regional

Military Command. Each of the LID was commanded by a Brigadier-General and each with 10

Infantry Battalions organized under 3 Tactical Operations Commands, commanded by a Colonel

as shown in Figure 4.
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Figure 4: Light Infantry Division of Tatmadaw

Source: Academic (2016).

In the operation of Tatmadaw, the first phase included evacuations, providing emergency

relief such as purified water, foods, household items, and shelter materials. Military aircraft of

Regional Air Force Squadrons also supported in the delivering emergency relief supplies to the

disaster-affected Regions. However, the military aircraft could carry only 6 tons per flight and

transported continuously to the disaster-affected regions. For places where there are no airfields,

the airbase has deployed some helicopters. In addition, the airbase headquarters has arranged the

delivery way of supplies and decided whether the aid should be sent by air or by boat based on not

only reports of chief ministers of disaster-hit regions and states but also the information of other

stakeholders.

After relief operation, the Tatmadaw operation units have focused on supporting the longer

term recovery of flood affected regions of the country with livelihood activities, cleaning of

contaminated ponds and infrastructure rehabilitation. Moreover, Tatmadaw has provided several
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physical, financial and transport assistances to all relief and rehabilitation undertakings to the best

of its ability. In order to more effectively carry out the tasks, it has operated with the regional

governments, local governments, police force, fire brigades, social organizations, humanitarian

organizations and NGOs. Moreover, Tatmadaw has coordinated with the relevant ministries

regarding for prompt repairs of communication systems and public service infrastructure such as

markets, schools, hospitals, roads and bridges and religious buildings, which were damaged by the

flood.

Organizational Environments and Stakeholders

Typically, the operation has required an inclusive approach through the cooperation of

government, Tatmadaw, civil society organizations, INGO and NGOs. Firstly, at the macro level,

the Myanmar government has a National Committee for Natural Disaster Management (NCNDM)

and the aim of the committee is best to deliver aid and help for disaster victims in Myanmar. Some

of the members of the NCNDM are representatives of the Tatmadaw (Army, Navy and Air Force).

At the micro level, to ensure effective and timely humanitarian assistance to the disaster-

affected areas, Tatmadaw has operated with mobilizes operation units, resources and technology

assets that may assist to insufficient local resources. However, when Tatmadaw has practiced the

CMC in the operation, it has confronted several general environmental conditions as shown in

Figure 5. For instance, focusing on legal condition, although the operation units have a chance to

choose other options in the operation, the units need to follow emergency rescue order of military

command. Moreover, whether the operation units collaborate with other stakeholders, the units

need to follow the aim of the Tatmadaw to maintain a good political condition. As the demographic

condition of the Tatmadaw, although it has specialize human resource, they are not ready to well
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communicate and collaborative with other stakeholders. For instance, some soldiers are not willing

to follow the order of the regional administrative officer and some military officers are want to

control on the other stakeholders whether they willing to follow or not. Furthermore, regarding the

cultural condition, as the realistic structure of the Tatmadaw, the commander of the each operation

units had not practised decision making autonomously.

Figure 5: General Environmental Conditions on the Civil-Military Coordination

Source: Adapted from UNOCHA (2017), Hlaing (2016).

Moreover, Tatmadaw has coordinated with the multi-stakeholders in the operation of

disaster responses, and it has strengthened linkages on Civil-Military Coordination by assigning

with the liaison officers and liaison offices as shown in Figure 6. To strengthen CMC in the

operation, despite the Tatmadaw deeply cooperated with the multi-stakeholders and also

participated in the operation, it has faced a lack of closer coordination and mutual understanding

among them in the reality (Aye, 2017). Moreover, collaborative action also delayed as the strong

vertical structure of the Tatmadaw and horizontal coordination is also required with all levels of

Tatmadaw’s operation units as the applying of limited regulation and procedure (e.g. INGOs and

NGO are could not directly connect to the commander of operation units or regional commander

and they can only connect with the appointed liaison officers of the Tatmadaw).
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Figure 6: Tatmadaw’s Coordination with the Multi-Stakeholders

Source: Adapted from Hlaing (2016).

Challenges

Characteristically, Tatmadaw has organized as a hierarchical organization with centralized

decision rights, restricted distribution of information, and constrained interaction among members.

Thus, as the organizational characteristic of Tatmadaw, its practice become inflexible, formalized,

rigidly standardized as of their centralized command structure. It is generally could characterize

as a mechanistic organization based on the following key factors as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7: Factors of Mechanistic Organization of the Tatmadaw

Moreover, despite the Tatmadaw has established and enhanced linkages between its

operation units, the civil administrations and other relevant stakeholders, Tatmadaw have faced

several challenges in term of the mutual trust, collaboration and communication in the operation.

It resulted that not only postponing in relief operation but also significantly impacted on the CMC.
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Specifically, the leadership practices of Tatmadaw has restricted the numerous effort of the other

civil organizations. For instance, as the practice of the military centralized decision making and

the motivation of some military officers of the operation units who are willing to control the action

of other stakeholders, it has become as a restriction for the collaboration effort of the stakeholders.

Also, differences in goals and priorities of each other’s organizations, it resulted in

challenges to the overall collaboration between the stakeholders and Tatmadaw. Furthermore, due

to the differing of not only organizational identity, organizational culture, but also communication

and information management, Tatmadaw has faced several challenges in the CMC and it has been

strongly impacting on the CMC of Tatmadaw. For instance, some stakeholders have kept their

information regarding the flood and they don’t willing to collaborate information gathering with

the operation units. Moreover, some NGO practice small working groups in the dangerous area as

their job mission, this action has made as a burden to the operation units because Tatmadaw’s

operation units are the responsible unit to take care not only disasters’ victims but also those groups.

By considering on collaboration and coordination, some INGO and NGO are not willing

to fully participate as their organizational unique culture and system. Moreover, as having a higher

power of the Tatmadaw (e.g. member of NCNDM and responsible for regional operation) and

having huge general resources (e.g. human resources, relief equipment and technology) also

emerge as a power and resource asymmetries between Tatmadaw and the stakeholders.

Furthermore, as the actual practice of the Tatmadaw, it resulted in limited collaboration between

Tatmadaw and the stakeholders. Thus, whenever Tatmadaw has been coordinating and

collaborating in disaster relief, and resettlement, Tatmadaw had not achieved the optimal level of

CMC. Thus, the all challenges of CMC in disaster relief and resettlement have demanded the
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Tatmadaw to practice innovative ideas for not only collaborative arrangement but also

organizational design in specific operation. Thus, the Tatmadaw or mechanistic organizations

should be reexamined.

Collaborative Governance

In the CMC in the disaster relief and resettlement, it could be seen that what the general

environmental conditions had happened, which relevant stakeholders had participated, and which

challenges had occurred in the case. Specifically, it could be realized that how power and resource

imbalances between Tatmadaw and the stakeholders had happened and what constraints had

occurred in the collaboration for the stakeholders in the case. Thus, for getting an effective

outcome or optimal level of CMC, Tatmadaw should practice collaborative governance in the

further disaster relief and resettlement operation. So, if Tatmadaw practices collaborative

governance in the disaster relief and resettlement operation, the organization is necessity to

emphasize the following three elements as the model of collaborative governance. Among them,

before considering to practice the collaborative process, Tatmadaw should start to practice

facilitative leadership and institutional design reforming for the operation units.

Facilitative Leadership

Particularly, leadership is seen as a critical element in the collaborative process. Because,

when collaboration and coordination are weak, and power and resources are asymmetrically

distributed, then leadership becomes as a serious component. Because, leadership is essential for

setting and maintaining clear rules, building trust, facilitating dialogue, and exploring mutual gains.

Thus, Tatmadaw should practice by appointing the facilitative leadership in the operation units

and should give some level of distributive authority and accountability to the leader of operation
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units. Moreover, good collaborative leaders is a necessity to recognize the participation of the

stakeholders for achieving the effective collaboration.

Institutional Design (Mechanistic to Organic organization)

Due to the organizational culture of Tatmadaw, which is as a mechanistic organization and

as of organizational belief and structure which is as a formalized institutes. Thus, Tatmadaw has

been faced several challenges in the operation of disaster relief, and resettlement regarding the

CMC. However, although Tatmadaw is a very formalize and systematic institute, this organization

could not change organizational culture, and behaviors entirely. Thus, to achieve better CMC

between Tatmadaw and the multi-stakeholders, the specific operation units of Tatmadaw should

change as an organic organization due to their relevant operation especially in the future disaster

relief and resettlement operation.

Figure 8: Recommended Institutional Design for Tatmadaw’s operation unit

Collaborative Process

Normally, collaboration process is as a cycle and it based on communication and

information sharing. Thus, Tatmadaw and its operation unit should practice face-to-face channel

of communication with stakeholders in the collaborative process. It is likely to be a consensus-

oriented process and it would support to stakeholders for getting more opportunities to participate
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in the collaborative approach and mutual advantage. Moreover, it could reduce the barriers of

communication and which will support effective collaboration process. Also, it could develop not

only the process of building trust, but also mutual understanding, and the commitment of

stakeholders to the process. Although the face-to-face channel of communication is a necessary, it

is not a sufficient condition for effective collaboration process. However, the communication could

get good faith negotiation between the Tatmadaw and multi-stakeholders.

Moreover, building trust between Tatmadaw and the stakeholders is also an essential part

in the collaborative governance approach. In general, the collaborative process is not just about

collaboration and coordination but also about building trust among stakeholders and it could be

quite difficult to encourage. However, trust building is a time-consuming process that requires a

long-term commitment to achieving effective collaborative outcomes. Thus, Tatmadaw should

manage the consumption of time and budget for implementing effective trust-building. In contract,

if Tatmadaw cannot justify the marginal time and cost, then they would be lost the opportunities

of their collaborative strategy for the CMC in the disaster relief and resettlement.

Furthermore, the level of commitment of the stakeholders to collaboration is also a

critical element in the process. Actually, commitments is strongly depend on mutual trust. Thus,

based on the trust level of the stakeholders, they will respect to collaborate with Tatmadaw’s

operation procedure. High level of trust between Tatmadaw and the stakeholders is likely to

enhance commitment to collaboration. On the other hand, Tatmadaw should develop a shared

understanding of what they can collectively achieve together. The meaning of shared

understanding is to develop common purpose, common aims, common objectives, shared vision

and ideology. Thus, shared understanding can also imply agreement on the definition of the
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problem. Therefore, the development of commitment and shared understanding is also essential in

the collaborative process of the collaborative governance approach.

Lastly, intermediate outcomes from collaborative process is also a crucial part of the

collaborative governance. Because intermediate outcomes can lead to successful collaboration or

effective collaborative governance and it can feed back into the further collaborative process.

Furthermore, long-term commitment to trust building is also necessary, then intermediate

outcomes that will associate to the further value of collaboration.

Recommendation

This paper has traced the case of floods and landslides in 2015 and examined which

challenges had occurred in the CMC between Tatmadaw and the multi-stakeholders in that incident.

Thus, it needs to examine how Tatmadaw should respond to conditions of instability and which

approach should practice for the development of CMC in the disaster relief and resettlement.

Theoretically, collaborative governance could cover both formal and informal relationships in

problem solving and decision-making. Thus, Tatmadaw should practice the collaborative

governance approach in the CMC because it directly needs to engage with multi-stakeholders when

the conditions of instability. On the other hand, if Tatmadaw practices collaborative governance

approach for getting the optimal level of CMC and effective Civil-Military Coordination, the

organization should consider the feedbacks of early collaboration process because it could

negatively or positively influence on further Civil-Military Coordination. Thus, this study

proposes an applicable model of collaborative governance for Tatmadaw as shown in Figure 9.
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Figure 9: Recommended model of Collaborative Governance for Tatmadaw

Source: Adapted from Ansell and Gash (2008).

As the proposed model of collaborative governance for Tatmadaw, the operation unit of

Tatmadaw should practice mechanistic to organic organization structure. Because, the mechanistic

organization could be suitable for stable general environmental conditions, and is very hierarchical.

However, organic organization structure is more appropriate when general environmental

conditions undergoing change. Generally, when the environment is stable, the mechanistic

organizational structure could work well because there is no need for complex decision-making,

operations could run smoothly without breakdowns. On the other hand, when the environment is

relatively dynamic and uncertain, the organic organizational structure could work best because

tasks are often changing and it would be able to respond quickly in the complex environments and

among the stakeholders. Moreover, in the disaster relief and resettlement operation, as the

requirement of tight integration and collaboration among the responsible stakeholders and different

functional areas, the rapid communication and information sharing is necessary for the operation

units of Tatmadaw.
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Furthermore, the decision-making power should be distributed to relevant small operation

units, which should get empowered in making decisions. Moreover, all the operation tasks should

be mutually adjusted, so that each subtask and procedure is balanced with other subtasks and

procedures. Lastly, this study would suggest that Tatmadaw needs to form a specialize operation

units as the structure of organic organization by accompanying with all army, navy and air force

subunits and the operational procedure of specialize operation units should fulfil with collaborative

governance tactic in the future disaster relief and resettlement operation.

Conclusion

This study has supposed how Tatmadaw should respond to conditions of instability and

supposed an applicable approach for the CMC in the disaster relief and resettlement. In order to

get effective coordination between Tatmadaw and the multi-stakeholders and to get the optimal

level of CMC in disaster relief and resettlement, Tatmadaw should practice collaborative

governance, as well as the structure of operation units of the Tatmadaw, should apply as an organic

organization. Moreover, by practising of collaborative governance in the Tatmadaw, it could

reduce the high costs of CMC in disaster relief and resettlement. Finally, this study would argue

that Tatmadaw ought to adapt its operation unit to organic organization system and should practice

collaborative governance approach in the future disaster relief and resettlement operation.

However, remaining questions for further study is whether Tatmadaw can practice collaborative

governance approach in the Civil-Military Coordination or not.
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