Monday, November 30, 2009

Blue on Blue: Part 11 ATM Bersama Media

North of the border
Armchair warriors would probably be able to dig up a heap of statistics on the Malaysian Armed Forces using their computer keyboard. You could do it too with the right search terms.

The value of attending the ATM Bersama Media (Malaysian Armed Forces and the Media) event in 2007 came from the opportunity to hear, firsthand, what ATM officers thought of the Third Generation Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). Their frank comments made the trip to KL worthwhile and I thank them for hosting me.

In my view, the specifications of weapons displayed during the event at Kem Sungai Besi on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, were not the main draw. Anyone can dig these up on the Internet.

The viewpoints and comments collected at the ATM Bersama Media event were invaluable. The conversations with officers I met revealed that most were well-briefed on developments in Singapore.

The photo essay that follows should give netizens an idea of the event I attended and the effort the Malaysian military takes in cultivating strong rapport with their national media.

Malaysia's Kementerian Pertahanan (KEMENTAH) stages its media engagement activities regularly and the contacts with the media provide an avenue for frank feedback from the press. This is unlike the practice in a certain Asean country where one senior officer is known to stalk his boss at press luncheons lest journalists try to - how would the Malaysians say this? - pecah lobang (loosely translated, it means something like "bust one's balloon") by sharing feedback with his superior officer.

My sense of the matter is that the Singapore Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) has much to learn from its KL counterpart, especially in the area of defence information management.

Malaysian journalists try their hand at stripping and assembling M-16 assault rifles under the tutorship of Malaysian Army officers. The ATM Bersama Media events help Malaysian journalists to forge a deeper understanding of their country's defence forces.

The 100-metre Falling Plate shooting competition pitted teams of journalists against one another in friendly rivalry. Darren, a Singaporean from the discussion group and I were the only Singaporeans at the event. As we did not have enough team members to form a five-person shooting detail, we joined forces with journalists from Asian Defence Journal and a Malaysian Chinese language newspaper.

A Malaysian Warrant Officer provides arms-handling instructions. Lessons were conducted in Malay and our pasar Melayu helped immensely.

We were each given two magazines of five rounds and had to run some 50 metres, prone, load the magazine, chamber a round and shoot down two plates 100 metres away.

Our team emerged third overall, losing our place in the final by a split second as the rival team's last plate fell a moment before we gunned down our last plate. Some of our Malaysian hosts attributed our good performance to our National Service training but were surprised to learn later that we were both PES "C" service troops who hadn't fired a rifle in years. : )

Ties forged during the ATM Bersama Media events benefit both sides - the media and the military. Many soldiers gain from the casual interaction with journalists, allowing them to gain a firsthand understanding of the media and what constitutes a good story.

A Malaysian Army sniper team shows off its 12.7mm anti-material rifle. The Malaysians acknowledged that the long reach of the weapon could be used for harassing fire against armoured troops operating with hatches open or against soft skin vehicles in the supply chain. Stay behind forces would make any incursion into Malaysian territory a costly one.

Manportable anti-tank weapons such as Pakistani-made RPG-7 rocket launcher (above) give Malaysian Army infantry sections the confidence to deal with armoured vehicles. Malaysian infantry units are armed with a range of anti-tank weapons whose respective range rings allow the infantry to provide defence in depth. I got the sense that Malaysian soldiers intend to wield the RPG-7 as an anti-personnel weapon too, especially in close-in fights in urban terrain or Malaysian plantation areas. They have the advantage of fighting on home territory and they know that.

Paratroopers from the 10 Brigade Pasukan Atugerak Cepat (Rapid Deployment Force) demonstrated how the Falling Plate event should be done. Women form an important component of frontline units in the Malaysian Armed Forces, an all-volunteer force that relies on a steady stream of recruits to replenish its ranks.


Ben Choong said...

Indeed, our MINDEF can learn a thing or two from our Northern neighbours in this regard...once again, an excellent read!

goat89 said...

X2 bdique. They too can learn something from us... like what our Northern brothers were b*tching about their own gov OM Mutual learning can a VERY good thing! ><
Good post Mr Boey!
PS: 10 Birgade Pasukan Atugerak Cepat eh? NICE!

sepuluh @ FORUM HARMONi said...

Sembah Salam SENI BELADIRI, Boey :),

10th Para Brigade (10 Bgd Para/10 Bgd) in 'certain area' of responsibility (kawasan tanggungjawab ~ KTJ) also has Quick Reaction Force (QRF), which i believe, y'all already know, thtz... :)


Best regards,

Mahadher Abdul Halim

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