Sunday, October 20, 2013

Send in the (Malaysian) Marines - New unit expected to boost Malaysia's beach landing capabilities

Feet dry: Malaysian troops from the Rapid Deployment Force storm a Kuantan beach alongside United States Marines during the CARAT war games in June 2013. Photo by Dzirhan Mahadzir, who is in a good enfilade position overlooking the line of advance.

The Malaysian military's ability to deploy its soldiers on and from the sea is expected to get a boost once its newly-announced Marines unit turns operational.

The Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (ATM, Malaysian Armed Forces) is understood to have had a more robust amphibious warfare capability on its wish list for the past several years and has (finally) cranked things into high gear.

The move is expected to be spearheaded by a core team from the Malaysian Army's Pasukan Aturgerak Cepat (Rapid Deployment Force) grouped under 10 Briged Para (10th Parachute Brigade). The emphasis on raising a Marines force, possibly of battalion size, will build on years on experience gained by the ATM in moving ground forces in the Federation's riverine systems and long coastlines.

The ATM's experience in projecting ground forces in coastal areas dates back to the Confrontation period in the 1960s, when security forces exploited Borneo's extensive waterways to extend their reach into the interior.

The PAC is well capable of putting warfighters ashore on a contested shoreline using assault boats and landing craft.

However, Malaysia's choice of the term "Marines" could point to ambitions for executing surf zone troop movements that are more complex in scope and scale, across longer distances, with these operations sustained over a prolonged period.

It is worth noting that unlike the United States Marine Corps (USMC) which the ATM has trained alongside, not all missions may involve power projection across vast oceans.

To Malaysia's future Marines, the littoral zone could literally be a short boat ride away, not the over-the-horizon missions USMC trains for. Malaysian Marines could conceivably be raised, trained and sustained to rapidly project military force across a short waterway for an operation with limited objectives. Paired with PAC airborne forces who specialise in airfield seizure, a sudden beach landing by ATM Marines could give Malaysia a strategic advantage if they attain the element of surprise (i.e. intelligence failure by their opponent) and manage to secure and thereafter expand the beachhead.

On a less exciting note, the Marines could take over garrison duty, now shouldered by the Malaysian Navy's crack Pasukan Khas Laut (PASKAL) unit, on concrete structures (see above) built in the Spratly islands. The fact that PASKAL has been entrusted to defend these remote localities speaks volumes of the importance of what may seem to us as mundane guard duty.

Timing of the Marines announcement
While no time frame or details have been released, Malaysian defence observers note that the 10 October 2013 announcement may have been timed to polish the image of Defence Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, who is a candidate for a post in the UMNO political party. UMNO members went to the polls on Saturday 19 October to elect three out of six candidates contesting key positions in the party.

Dzirhan Mahadzir noted in his 15 October article for IHS Jane's:"Hishammuddin's description of the Marine force only states that it will be established for amphibious operations, drawn from all three Services and essential for security in the East Malaysian state of Sabah, where Sulu militants staged an incursion in February that was subsequently repelled by a military operation.

"The statement did not give further details but IHS Jane's understands that the Marine Corps proposal was planned before the Sulu incursion but has since been prioritised."

Dzirhan added that two PAC battalions - the 9th Royal Malay Regiment (Para) and 8th Royal Ranger Regiment (Para) - have conducted amphibious warfare training as a secondary mission, most recently in June during the CARAT (Co-operation Afloat Readiness And Training) war games with the USMC in Kuantan and following that, with French forces deployed aboard the Landing Platform Dock, FNS Tonnerre.(Note: the third PAC battalion is the 17 Rejimen Askar Melayu Diraja (Para) )

Senang Diri understands that PAC pairings with the USMC have taken place over the past few years. Such joint war games may indicate that Markas Tentera Darat turned the spotlight on amphibious warfare after planning bandwidth increased following the IOC of new capabilities and completion of unit revamps (2008: Border Regiment, 2006: Army Air Corp new capability).

These include:
10 October 2013: Announcement of a Marines unit. This move could signal stronger emphasis on amphibious warfare capabilities by Markas Tentera Darat (Malaysian Army HQ). Observers note that the capability announcement is made a week before a key UMNO election involving the Malaysian Defence Minister.

5 March 2013: Three days after the Tentera Darat ke-80 parade, the Malaysian military goes into action against Sulu militants in Sabah. The operation, initially codenamed Operasi Sulu then amended to Ops Daulat (which means Sovereignty), prompts Malaysians to reflect on the value and readiness of their armed forces. One point of view is that a capable Angkatan Tentera Malaysia, respected by the Rakyat, was held back by dithering politicians and bureaucrats.

2 March 2013: The Malaysian Army's Advanced Combatman System (click here) called Soldier Advanced Kombat Technology Integrated (SAKTI) is unveiled together with the PARS AV-8 8x8 Kenderaan Perisai Pengangkut Anggota (i.e. armoured personnel carrier) at the Tentara Darat ke-80 anniversary parade held in Bandar Tentera Darat in Port Dickson. Please click here for more.

2009: Markas 3 Divisyen continues its transformation into a Combined Arms Division - the first of four Malaysian Army divisions to do so. The division, headquartered in Malacca, is responsible for military operations in the southern part of the Malay peninsula. Markas 3 Divisyen commands assets such as ARTHUR artillery hunting radars that are found only in this formation. The ARTHURs serve with 61 Regimen Artileri Diraja (61 RAD).

2008: Five Regimen Askar Wataniah (Territorial Army) battalions are revamped to form the Regimen Sempadan (Border Regiment) for garrison duty on Malaysia's land frontier with Thailand. This is more than a name change. The Regimen Sempadan battalions focus on border control and security of key avenues of approach to bolster Malaysian security in view of problems in Thailand's southern provinces.

2008: Delivery of PT-91M Pendekar main battle tanks assigned to Rejimen ke-11 Kor Armor Diraja (11 KAD). The Polish-made tanks are Malaysia's first MBTs.

2006: Introduction of Agusta A109 Light Observation Helicopters for PUTD.

2002: Delivery of Avibras Astros II Sistem Roket Lancar Berganda (SRLB) assigned to 51 Rejimen Artileri Diraja (51 RAD), the ATM's first rocket artillery battalion.

1995: Formation of Pasukan Udara Tentera Darat (Army Air Corps).

1987: Designation of 10 Briged Para as the ATM's Pasukan Aturgerak Cepat (Rapid Deployment Force). The formation eventually receives an organic armour capability (Pasukan Armor (Para)) with Scorpion AC 90 light tanks and StormerAPCs and a SAM squadron.

The term "transformation" appears sparingly in Malaysian defence literature. But from the look of things, the phasing in of new equipment and sustained revamp of ATM units indicates defence planners up north have got things figured out.

Tindak Pantas!


Anonymous said...

on Oct 5, 2013 (in m'sia), china and m'sia issued a joint statement that said they would lift their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership, including defense.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and China is invited to take part in RIMPAC 2014 with good friends USA, Japan, ROK and the Philippines.

ah seng said...

I wonder when will all these Malaysian b**lshit stops? JB couldn't even withstand our onslaught if we invade them from the south. Why not now?? War would be nice... free land somemore... :) Why waste money on that "marines" when their policemen couldn't even take care of their own thugs in JB.

Anonymous said...

you've forgotten to take your daily psychotic medications, again ?

Jay said...

Marines, in a way, acts as a rapid deployment force. This is same as the PAC. So why can't they just train up another battlion within PAC to do that?

SampanAnyone? said...

Like...they'll need some second hand landing ships at very least.

As I recall, the last one caught fire.

Anonymous said...

Who is responsible for beach landing in the SAF?

Anonymous said...

Yo Ah Seng. Got brain fever meh????

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous Oct23 11:44am

I believe Singapore has also (on the relative quiet) been sending Guards to train with the US Marines in California (Camp Pendelton)

Likely Singapore will be looking to motorize these units possibly with a marine version of the Terrex (incidently until recently in competition for a Marine program)

Whether wheel is ideal for all beach conditions is debatable.

As far as beach landings are concern, it may dictate a specialized engineering unit to coordinate/facilitate such assaults. the beach master will nominally be in charge of landings.

Marine operations need specialized supporting assets which take time to put in place. Simply declaring an infantry unit 'marines' is a bit hollow without putting in place these capabilities first.

ah seng said...

Do you have any problems? Are you Malaysian? No wonder, well, I felt bad for you, stupid leaders, poor economy.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ah Seng,
With stupid keaders, poor economy that Giant, Jusco,Tesco thrives with clever Spork dishing out their Sing Dollars, thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

If ah seng hates Malaysia so much he should walk the talk and go cause trouble there, not behind his computer like a coward here. Come on, not another word from you until you show us you have some balls.

ah seng said...

if all "anonymous" disliking people commenting or saying out his/her thoughts, you guys should really grow up la! This is a free world, if not, please go back to your jungle and live there if you do not like what other people had just commented. Please go comment on other Malaysian forums, read blogs or anything that doesn't displeases you okay?

Anonymous said...

I did not see you exercise the same maturity when you attacked those discussing the length of NS.

I am Singaporean. I suppose you think I should be hanged, shot or detained.

Anyway, the government's actions might just drive some Singaporeans to move to other countries, including Malaysia. If that happens plus the birth rate remains low plus 1/3 PRs don't serve NS, NS for locals just might be lengthened or include girls. You should be happy.

Anonymous said...

Cut the crap Ah Seng. How old are you boy? 14?? Shit u cant even drink beer yet. But how come ur so drunk then? Mabuk todi somemore?? Come show some balls. I live in Pontian, Johor. A retired Malaysian Army Officer of 21 years. Just come to Johor and i'll glad to teach u some manners. Dont let grandpa scare u now... Sorry mr David.

ah seng said...

You are an army officer? So what's the big deal?? I bet after 21 years in the army, your belly is as big as all those malaysian officers spending all day eating and sleeping. How's the chicken curry in your army's ration?? I heard your "great" government paid for them overpriced. Does they taste better? I served the army too and sadly I think I am more patriotic to S'pore than most people these days. Sorry Mr. David. I was a bit annoyed by some people wanting to imposed his/her ideals on others or just know how to complain and complain.

Anonymous said...

ah seng, war with Malaysia is not going to happen. The Singapore-Malaysia relationship has been improving ever since that old prick stepped down. Now that he is one foot in the grave, he can't open his mouth with provocative words very often. His two successors have been much more sensitive to our neighbours.

Anonymous said...

Dear David,

Calling a battalion of light infantry marines, marines they do not make, training with marines, marines they do not become.

Marines are typically divided into types, light riverine warfare assault types, and full fledged raids and beach head types. The former are lightly equipped with minimal specialised to arms equipment, the latter fully equipped with specialised to role equipment.

I see the Malaysian Marines as falling more into the former as the latter would be prohibitively expensive and not in line with the RDF capabilities needed in the S China Sea. I mean honestly have you seen the size of the islands in dispute in the spratlys ?


David Boey said...

Dear ah seng,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Thus far, this blog has posted comments from everyone - even barbs directed at your's truly - because comments from readers are interesting to mull over.

The only ones deleted are blatant advertising. For now, not a single comment has merited deletion for crossing the race, religion threshold.

Being patriotic to Singapore means understanding and accepting that deterrence must be tempered with defence diplomacy - which means learning how to be a good neighbour.

Being civil and tactful, even in trying circumstances, is part of that brief. I must admit that this is a trait that I too have to relearn from time to time.

Best regards,


Anonymous said...

As a veteran exvat69, i believe the marines will be raised primarily for the volatile malaysia/phillipines border where the recent sulu terrorist incursions happened.
PASKAL is stretched - they cannot be everywhere as Malaysia has has a sea border to manage.
The sulus in their army fatigues are loose cannons and its a good thing the MILF has distanced itself from Nur Misuari and the MNLF.
Having a water borne specialised unit based there permanently is better than placing elements of the vat69, GGK or PASKAL on rotational basis.

Anonymous said...

Youve seen my belly before ha Ah Seng?? I bet it is smaller and maybe even "well" built compared to yours. Not bad 4 an old man. Paid 4 my curry overpriced? Do you know how the meals currently being served at our mess halls are done boy?? Have u even been to one of our Malaysian Army camps? People like u make my skin crawl. The training that u recieved during ur BMT cant even compare to the training that i endured during my youth. U should learn a thing or two from Mr David. My best regard to u Mr David. Singapore does have some excellant Officers during my days. But this boy Ah Seng is not one of them. Pardon my English. Im used to shout command in Malay so my English isnt that good to begin with. But i do find that ur blog is interesting and is well received by a lot of Malaysians.

Anonymous said...

ah seng aaaa...u wanna perang ma....u r some tipical boy maaa....have u live during japanese invasion??? no dont perang perang ma.....u perang on the bed with ur galfren ma....that better....

Anonymous said...

On internet, you can be anyone - ah sent, ah heng, mat power, vat, via, etc. Be wary of saboteurs,