Kachin Independence Army
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The Kachin Independence Army (Burmese: ကချင် လွတ်မြောက်ရေး တပ်မတော်; abbreviated KIA) is the military arm of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), a political group composed of ethnic Kachins in northern Burma (Myanmar). The Kachins are a coalition of six tribes whose homeland encompasses territory in Yunnan, China and Northeast India, in addition to Kachin State in Burma. In May 2012, the Associated Press reported that the rebel group had 8,000 troops.
The KIA formed in 1961 February 5 in response to a military coup in Burma led by General Ne Win, who attempted to consolidate Burmese control over regions on the periphery of the state which were home to various ethnic groups. From 1961 until 1994, the KIA fought a grueling and inconclusive war against the Burmese junta. Originally the KIA fought for independence, but now the official KIO policy goal is for autonomy within a federal union of Burma.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement between the KIA and the Burmese junta froze the conflict in place. The KIA has not disarmed or surrendered, and continues to recruit, train and mobilize soldiers. Prior to the ceasefire the KIA was predominantly a low-tech guerilla force, but peace has provided the breathing room to establish a military academy and design rigorous officer training programs.
The KIA is fully funded by the KIO, which raises revenue through taxes (in their area) and trading the resources such as jade, timber and gold. Although well equipped for jungle warfare, the KIA does not have much modern weaponry. Their rifles are a motley collection of AK-47s, their own made rifles such as KA-07, and commanders claim to have some artillery. KIA headquarters is located outside the town of Laiza, in southern Kachin state near the Chinese border. Former headquarters, located at Pajau, are a 2-3 hour drive from Laiza, high in the mountains along the border.
Although the ceasefire between the government and the KIA has endured since 1994, in 2009 many Kachins expected a renewed outbreak of war in conjunction with elections scheduled for 2010. The Military junta that runs Burma demanded that all ethnic armies disarm before the 2010 general elections because the new constitution requires only one army in Burma. According to Gen. Gam Shawng Gunhtang, the chief of staff of the KIA, the demands to disarm were "not acceptable" because he regards that disarming KIA does not guarantee peace between the Military junta and KIA. In February 2010 Alastair Leithead reported for the BBC that KIA's Chief of Staff, Maj Gen Gam Shawng said "I can't say if there will be war for sure, but the government wants us to become a border guard force for them by the end of the month", and "We will not do that, or disarm, until they have given us a place in a federal union and ethnic rights as was agreed in Panglong Agreement in 1947".
In October 2010 KIA commanders informed the BBC that they have "10,000 regular troops and 10,000 reservists", but the BBC had no way to confirm this, and in 2009 Thomas Fuller of the New York Times estimated their numbers at about 4,000 active soldiers. The soldiers are divided into five brigades, plus one mobile brigade. Most are stationed in bases close to the Chinese border, in strips of territory held by the KIO. One brigade is stationed in northern Shan state, where there is a large Kachin population.
New outbreak of violence in 2011-2012 
In 2011, general Sumlut Gun Maw confirmed renewed fighting in the state of Kachin for independence. One of the new reasons for the ending of the ceasefire is the creation of the Myitsone Dam which requires the submergence of dozens of villages in Kachin state.
New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDAK) is a defected part of KIA led by Zahkung Ting Ying which affiliated with Burma Communist Party in 1968 before it was created as NDAK formally in Dec 1989.
See also 
- AP, 4 May, 2012, Myanmar state media report battles between government troops, Kachin rebels killed 31
- Leithead 2010.
- Jackson, Joe. "On the Front Lines with the Kachin Independence Army". Time. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- BBC staff 2010.
- Fuller 2009.
- Operation Victory Journey
- Renewed fighting in Kachin state
- "Security Risks for Kachin IDPS and Refugees". Free Burma Rangers. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- BBC staff (19 October 2010), Burma army in tense stand-off with Kachin militia, BBC
- Leithead, Alastair (22 February 2010), Burma's Kachin army prepares for civil war, BBC
- Fuller, Thomas (11 May 2009), Ethnic Groups in Myanmar Hope for Peace, but Gird for Fight, The New York Times
- Tran, Mark (7 July 2009), Burma rebels vow to stop using child soldiers Text "The Guardian" ignored (help) "This article was amended on Monday 31 August 2009 to remove references to the alleged age of SSA soldier"