The only glitch - if you could call it that - was the inability of the Generals’ entourage to drive all the way to the top of the Hill 286.
This is also fiction
The tiny cups of aromatic coffee made the home visit worthwhile. And the delicious spread of home cooked dishes coming out of the impossibly small Lebanese kitchen beat the best of the Nasi Arab restaurants along Bukit Bintang hands down.
The discussion between the menfolk had a wonderfully conducive setting and soon, the carpeted sitting room gurgled with conversation that flowed freely and sincerely among new found friends.
"How is Zaina?," asked the GGK Major.
"Zaina, she is recovering well. Alhumdullihah," said her father, a one-time teacher who in recent years had found a new trade, not by choice but by circumstance.
Malaysian officers from MALCON were there to pay a farewell visit to the family to see how the little girl the MALCON medics saved from a road traffic accident was faring. The girl's positive outlook cheered their hearts as the MALCON officers were fathers themselves. It was a perfect way to wind up their tour of duty in Lebanon.
The small talk flowed from one topic to another with no set agenda, as conversations usually do at such social gatherings. As the guests were military men, the spotlight inevitably feel upon their tour of duty in Lebanon and their impressions of the country.
"May I ask...," the GGK Major ventured in between another cup of coffee, "May I ask how your family coped during the war?"
The former teacher knew his trade well. He was was used to summarising key points for a lecture and delivering his thoughts in a logical sequence while keeping his audience engaged. His story riveted the MALCON officers. They were more than engaged. His story enthralled them all.
In two minutes, they learned that he stepped forward to volunteer with Hizbollah as a militiaman, making him a citizen soldier in the fullest sense of the word . Within 10 minutes, they found out he was no rank-and-file man. His exposure to math and physics and innate leadership skills placed him in command of a Hizbollah ATGM unit.
A quarter of an hour after he began recounting his war service, table utensils placed strategically in the make believe battlefield supported by animated hand gestures recreated the Hizbollah versus Israel Defense Forces battles that were fought out in the dusty streets of Lebanese border towns as tank gunfire was answered by ATGM attacks. This was literally a table top battle, an impromptu lecture in anti-tank tactics in urban operations and the arcane subject of points of vulnerability of Israeli armour delivered to an appreciative audience.
The MALCON officers did not need to know how to knock out the vaunted Merkavas. Their Metis M ATGMs would take care of that - as proven by the Hizbollah. They were keenly interested in how Hizbollah managed to fight and survive under a sky seemingly infested with enemy UAVs.
And so, the grateful father, teacher-turned-combatant and now combatant-turned-teacher again obliged the Malaysians. He explained that the idea that UAVs have an all-seeing eye just because they buzzed the sky out of reach of small arms fire had been debunked time and again during the fight towards the Litani River.
The value of battlefield decoys was sketched out, the importance of having a deception plan as integral to one's mission planning was underlined as the experienced MALCON officers soaked in the lessons from the war veteran. The father's wartime experience fighting the IDF was one of many picked up by MALCON during their time in Lebanon. Some stories they gathered up by chance (as in this instance). Others were actively sought out and gathered by seasoned information gatherers and diligently relayed to Kuala Lumpur to help shape and validate MAF CONOPS.
The MAF's tour of duty in Lebanon was truly worthwhile.