Thousands of soldiers have taken part in Burma’s annual Armed Forces Day parade in the capital Nay Pyi Taw.
The parade was the last before elections later this year which should replace Burma’s military government.
Military ruler general Than Shwe inspected the troops and gave an address to the crowds at this rare public appearance.
However, critics say the military is aiming to keep power even after the elections.
No date for the poll has yet been set.
There has been speculation that Than Shwe will want to remain as army chief or may try to become president.
“They will talk about ideology, policy and the steps they’ve taken towards democracy,” said Aung Naing Oo, a Burmese academic based in Thailand, ahead of the speech.
“More symbolic is their attempt to show everyone at home and abroad that the military will not, and must not, be discounted.”
Burma recently revealed new laws under which the multi-party elections will take place.
Many key opposition figures – including detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi – are not allowed to take part.
Members of religious orders are also banned from taking part, a rule which covers the monks who led anti-government protests two years ago.