Monday, May 22, 2017

Malaysian Army and Australian Defence Force wind up war games in Shoalwater Bay

The Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) in Australia, at which the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) conducts war games such as Bold Conqueror and Orion, has just hosted another army from our neighbourhood.

Malaysian mechanised infantry completed a joint exercise with Australian Army troops today, according to online reports from Tentera Darat Malaysia (Malaysian Army).

The five-day exercise (18 to 22 May 2017) at Rockhampton involved soldiers from Malaysia's 12 Rejimen Askar Melayu DiRaja (Mekanise) and the 7 Rejimen Renjer DiRaja (Mekanise) and the 8/9 Royal Australian Regiment, which is based in Brisbane.

The 12 RAMD (Mek) and 7 RRD (Mek) come under the command of the Kuantan-based Briged ke-4 Infantri Mekanise (4 Bgd Mek), which in turn reports to Markas 3 Divisyen (HQ 3rd Combined Arms Division).

The exercise is designed to raise the level of interoperability between the two armies and provides exposure to staff officers from both sides to plan and execute conventional warfare manoeuvres. Such interaction contributes to fostering closer defence relations between personnel from both sides - who also train together under the auspices of the Five Power Defence Arrangements.

The exercise involved map planning and tactical marches across unfamiliar terrain (for the Malaysians) and included a segment that saw troops from both sides assault a built-up area.

The deployment to Queensland state exposes Malaysian soldiers to pretty much the same map grid references and terrain used by the SAF for Exercise Wallaby. However, staging war games in the month of May - which is autumn in Australia - provides a cooler climate to operate in compared to the exercise window allocated for the SAF (which is during the Australian summer).

Astute Malaysian staff officers who have trained in SWBTA and on home ground would probably be able to compare and contrast differences in terrain in Australia and Malaysia. This could lead to a better appreciation of the limitations in realism for land warfare manoeuvres and the battle cycle practised at both locations.

The time and effort deploying to SWBTA would also give the Malaysian Army a firsthand understanding of the logistics involved in making such a move, as well as the ability of SWBTA to host large-scale manoeuvres.

The Malaysian Army's 4 Bgd Mek has had a packed war game schedule recently. Last week, mechanised infantry from the brigade conducted war games in Kuantan in Pahang State and in Dungun, Terengganu, to test, assess, validate and refine its concept of operations for Network Centric Operations (NCO).

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