Smith Dun

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General Smith Dun (November 11, 1906–1979) was the commander-in-chief of the Burmese Army from January 4, 1948 – February 1, 1949. Dun received training at the Indian Military Academy and earned the first Sword of Honour which is given to the best cadet of each year’s class. In a move to build confidence in the Burmese Union that would include all ethnic groups, Dun, a Karen, was appointed commander-in-chief of the Burmese army and of the police forces when Burma gained its independence from Britain following World War II. However, in 1949 when the Karen began their war for independence from Burma, Dun was removed from his position. Dun was a loyal leader of the Burmese Army while maintaining a strong sense of his Karen ethnicity. Known as the “four-foot colonel” for his small stature, he kept his Karen soldiers disciplined although suspicion of his ethnic roots lingered even after his dismissal.


  • Dun, Smith. Memoirs of the Four-Foot Colonel. Ithica, NY: Cornell Southeast Asia Program, 1980.

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