Combat Against Terrorism in Unity

By Min Khant


Terrorist organizations tend to threaten and kill unarmed civilians anywhere anytime and every society in the world is facing the threat of terrorism. The terrorist organizations are targeting the non-combatant targets of civilians, public infrastructures and critical places in the countries. Accordingly, world countries do not accept such violent acts and always defend them with special attention.
In defending against the threat of terrorist organizations, every country of the world must join hands together regardless of boundaries, what terrorism is universally defined and its relevant laws.
To give an overview on the threats of terrorist groups across the world today, when terrorism becomes a serious concern and threat for a country, the country certainly would suffer its negative outcomes and moreover, the ideologies of the terrorists would prevail across other regional countries and eventually link to the terrorist organizations of other regions. In this case, it is noteworthy that providing political support or cover to the terrorist groups for their unlawful acts recklessly committed on innocent civilians is most likely to pave the way for growing terrorism and terrorist groups.
Having said that, every country is taking measures of counter-terrorism in line with their respective laws, rules and regulations to combat terrorism and terrorist groups and protect the people from its threats and consequences. In some cases, countries have to cooperate with the international community in combating against terrorism.
In this regard, as one of the cooperation activities to combat terrorism joining hands together with the international community, Myanmar hosted the Tabletop Exercise-TTX of ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group on Counter Terrorism from 2 to 4 August 2023.
The Tabletop Exercise-TTX on Counter Terrorism was successfully organized with the participation of senior military officials from Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam besides Myanmar and Russia, co-chairs of the ADMM-Plus EWG on CT. The opening ceremony of TTX on 2 August was honoured with the presence of Chief of General Staff (Army, Navy, and Air) General Maung Maung Aye. The General officially opened the ceremony by pressing the logo of EWG CT on a touch-screen and delivering an opening remark.
On the second day of the TTX on 3 August, Command Post Exercise was conducted with the discussions led by Myanmar and Russian senior officers of participants reinforced with the views, experiences and suggestions of participants from other countries. The active participation of each country in alphabitc order led to the perfect outcome of the operation plan of TTX.
In the morning on the third day of TTX, the participants from respective countries viewed the demonstration performance of Myanmar Special Operation Task- Force-SOTF members of Myanmar Armed Forces and also recognized the physical strength and mental toughness of male and female SOTF members who are well-disciplined and well-trained. In the afternoon, TTX continued with the active participation of representatives from respective countries and final decision of joint operation plan was finalized. Then, a gala dinner was hosted in the evening building more trust, understanding and friendship among the participants.
Successful holding of a tabletop exercise on counter terrorism with the participation of ASEAN’s dialogue partners is a honourable achievement for Myanmar. Moreover, Myanmar, where the attacks of NUG/PDF terrorists occur in recent political development, has gained invaluable experiences from the opportunity to work closely together with international community in the counter terrorism measures.

All countries participating in the TTX, regardless of different territories, languages and cultural customs, have a common perspective that they do not accept terrorism and an objective to combat any terrorist in the world. Having said that, they all actively are actively participating in unity in counter terrorism measures of the exercise.

During the exercise, cultural programs were added with recreational purposes so that the senior officials from participating countries know more about Myanmar. They got the chance to study the history of Myanmar armed forces that was born together with the Independence and its relentless efforts to safeguard the live and property of the people and activities for the national interests throughout successive eras in Defence Services Museum; the facts and evidence of Myanmar civilization dating back from pre-historic period, Myanmar’s literature, art and architecture, cultural artefacts and religious objects in historic period, the grandness of Lion Throne used by ancient Myanmar kings reflecting the national sovereignty under crowns in National Museum; and the precious gemstones of Myanmar mineral products on display at Myanmar Gem Museum.
Furthermore, the participants of TTX also had paid deep homage to Upatasandi Pagoda as well as the Maravijaya Buddha Image which would be the world’s highest sitting marble Buddha Image in the world fully enjoying the peaceful environment of a country of Theravada Buddhism. In particular, they became recorded as first foreigners from 11 countries to pay homage to the Maravijaya Buddha Image following its consecrating ceremony. Moreover, after briefing of responsible officials, the participants also observed the documentary records of how the world’s largest and heaviest marble stone was conveyed using water and land transports in longest distance as well as the incredible skills of Myanmar engineers who had carved out the Buddha Image and built the religious buildings in the Maravijaya Buddha Park.
The Tabletop Exercise TTX recently conducted is for counter terrorism which is one of seven areas of practical defence cooperation between each of ASEAN member States and other countries of Plus Countries of dialogue partners on ADMM-Plus platform. This area of defence cooperation has been co-chaired by Myanmar and Russia, and Myanmar led the TTX.
Experts’ Working Groups (EWGs) have been established to facilitate cooperation in these areas. The EWGs are each co-chaired by one ASEAN Member States and one Plus Country, operating in a three-year cycle since its inception in 2011. The first three-year cycle of ADMM-Plus EWG on Counter Terrorism was jointly co-chaired by Indonesia and United States from 2011 to 2013. The second cycle of ADMM-Plus EWG on CT from 2014 to 2016 was co-chaired by Singapore and Australia and its third cycle from 2017 to 2019 was co-chaired by Thailand and China. The fourth cycle of EWG CT was inactive in the following year due to the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 and became active again in 2021 co-chaired by Myanmar and Russia for three years until 2023.
Conducting joint exercises in the area of counter terrorism on the ADMM-Plus platform aims to promote mutual interaction, understanding, trust, friendship and cooperation among ASEAN members and plus countries of dialogue partners. Better inter-personnel trust and understanding will largely contribute to the efforts to combat terrorism and violent acts in the region.
The essence of the recently-organized TTX is to formulate an operation plan for multilateral forces to annihilate the terrorists who are threatening a stable and peaceful country. It is notable that during the TTX, senior officials from Myanmar and Russia led the discussions in the Staff Exercise and Common Post Exercise, the phases of the TTX.
All countries participating in the TTX, regardless of different territories, languages and cultural customs, have a common perspective that they do not accept terrorism and an objective to combat any terrorist in the world. Having said that, they all actively are actively participating in unity in counter terrorism measures of the exercise.
In reality, the ADMM-Plus EWG on Counter Terrorism established for the practical defence cooperation between ASEAN and plus countries of dialogue partners is not related to the political and internal affairs of member States. No country in the world would accept or tolerate any form of terrorism and violent acts and accordingly, the cooperation mechanism has been established to effectively combat any possible form of terrorism in the region with the combined efforts of regional countries. In this regard, the effective cooperation of defence forces should be more emphasized rather than the internal affairs and political system of relevant countries.
Among our ASEAN member States, there would be certain diversities ranging from different historical background, culture, nationality, faith and religion to different politics and political systems. In spite of the differences and diversities, all member States should unite the strengths in implementing the common objective of ASEAN centrality and its proactive role.
Absence of participating in such counter terrorism exercise on the pretext of politics and political system of the host country infers the meaning of supporting terrorism and terrorist acts. Despite many disturbances of those who have negative views on the exercise, the Tabletop exercise-TTX on counter terrorism was successfully concluded as the result of unity. In other words, the successful conclusion of the TTX fully reflects the essence of the theme of fourth cycle of ADMM-Plus EWG on CT ‘Working in Unity, Building the Security’. Experiences and suggestions made by the representatives of participating countries were significant contributions to the successful completion of the TTX.
To sum up, I strongly believe that conducting such exercises continuously will improve mutual trusts and understandings among participants and eventually become a practical and invaluable contribution in the efforts to combat terrorism and terrorist acts threatening the entire society of mankind.

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