Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Malaysian military operations that made headline news in the past 10 days

Regardless of whether Malaysian warfighters will fight to protect you or fight against you, there is no denying the amount of newsprint the Malaysian military has generated in the Federation's media in the past 10 days.

Print, online and broadcast media reports of Malaysian Armed Forces (Angkatan Tentera Malaysia) operations around the globe tell Malaysian defence watchers what the ATM can do in peace and war.

In Operasi Fajar (Operation Dawn, a chapter in the holy Koran), ATM special forces showed how they will deal decisively with suspected sea pirates. No lives were lost on 21 Jan 2011 when a gun battle erupted between the pirate suspects and ATM commandos embarked aboard Bunga Mas 5 and a Fennec flying overwatch.

To those who know how the ATM trains its commandos, the end result of the firefight was a foregone conclusion even before the first shot was fired. The commandos showed tremendous fire discipline in rounding up the suspects – all 18 were captured alive. Had they wanted to, they could have easily shot and disposed of all 18 suspects on the high seas as the firefight took place out of sight of the media and far away from the big shots who work at the Defence Ministry HQ along Jalan Padang Tembak.

I hope Malaysian authorities are keeping track of the weight of the skinny pirate suspects, because the amount of care they are given under the custody of the Federation of Malaysia is likely to see them in a better state of health than before their capture.

In Operasi Piramid (Operation Pyramid), thousands of Malaysians have been airlifted to safety from the Egyptian cities of Cairo and Alexandria amid the chaos of a country on the brink of civil war.

Ops Pyramid may be a non-combatant evacuation operation conducted under benign conditions (i.e. no one is shooting at your forces), but Malaysia's ability to pull it off is a noteworthy counterpoint to those who speak dismissively about its joint force capabilities.

I am willing to bet that the vast majority of Malaysians ferried out by the Royal Malaysian Air Force (TUDM) do not even know the skuadron the TUDM fliers belong to or the type of aircraft fielded by TUDM. But whatever the case, the TUDM personnel executed their assigned mission as they were trained.

With operations unfolding in different theatres, the ATM also launched its third contingent to the Lebanon under MALBATT 3. Malaysia's ability to mount and support operations involving its air, sea and land forces, around the globe and almost simultaneously, says a lot about its potency as an integrated fighting force.

With Singapore’s Defence Budget due to be announced next Friday, budget script writers in Singapore would do well to ponder the ATM’s track record before blowing the trumpet for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

To be sure, the SAF has had an eventful year conducting operations in far flung places like Afghanistan and the Gulf of Aden.

But one would hope the script writers show some humility and restraint, as the SAF’s track record will naturally be compared against those of its neighbours.

Headlines scored by ATM warfighters in the past 10 days point to the Malaysians' ability to plan, execute and support complex, multi Service operations, in different theatres and time zones, at the same time. Ops Fajar and Ops Pyramid are likely to provide discussion points for staff level presentations in years to come, just like the SAF's Ops Flying Eagle is still talked about in the Lion City six years after the tsunami relief mission ended. The net result is likely to be a boost in morale within the ATM's ranks, with greater confidence in its combat and combat service support capabilities reinforcing Malaysia's steadfastness during a period of tension. Such confidence, even if misplaced, will dent the impact of a foreign opponent's deterrent posture. Food for thought for SAF mission planners and those who man the AFCP.

It would be a mistake to cherry pick past snafus, such as the Sauk siege in 2000, puzzling procurement choices and the botched live-fire exercise where a Sea Skua anti-ship missile decided to become a torpedo in March 2006, to talk down the ATM’s combat capabilities.

In my opinion, there is a disturbing among some defence watchers to do so.

Credit should be given when it is earned and the ATM has done so – rather convincingly in my view - in recent days.


xtemujin said...

ATM Grup Gerak Khas(GGK) was also involved in the rescue of the US Rangers in Mogadishu, Somalia using the Condors in 1993.

ben sungib said...

Congratulations for providing an in depth over view of the 3 operations carried out by the MAF overseas. It is heartening to know how much the MAF has succeeded in discharging its duties, especially in areas many time zones away from the motherland.

ben sungib said...

Mr David Boey, both your entries about the MAF operations encouraged me to write on the two subject matters. Allow me to extract some interesting points from both your entries in my postings. If necessary, I will acknowledge it. Thanks.

David Boey said...

Hi Ben,
Please proceed.

Best wishes,

Unknown said...

Another encouraging military headline news after the Malaysian Navy Commandoes and Fennec gunship helicopter's action on Somali pirates. Bravo! High-time we acquire a mini-aircraft carrier for future mission of this sort (evacuating citizens from troubled spots). Glad to hear too.. the presence of our vessel in Gulf of Aden 'easily'manouvered to the hot spot.. plus the hectic herculean continuos flights of our Charlies (and commercial planes).. shows how might this small islamic nation with the spirit of unified multi-racial get-together in dealing with crisis management.

Unknown said...

Every morning I woke up with pride of the nation's ability to conduct a massive rescue of it's citizens amounting to tenth-thousands in just a few days.. Now, Malaysian servicemen and peacekeepers are everywhere.. from Afghanistan to Lebanon.. doing the goodwill job leaving behind families at home. God bless the Malaysian Army!

Anonymous said...

I have been to Bosnia before the war in Winter and it was really cold. I have never seen the ATM in action but I have seen war exercises in Arctic condition and it is tough.

The fact that the ATM were able to contribute to UNPROFOR and operate in Bosnia under deep winter condition shows how capable it is. UNPROFOR was also not a benign peacekeeping environment.

Anonymous said...

well done ATM