Second Border Brigade Stood Up

Army and GOF joint patrol in ESSCOM AOR. Note the GK-M1 weapon carriers. The left one is fitted with a 12.7mm machine gun while the other is fitted with an automatic grenade launcher.

SHAH ALAM: THE 31st Border Brigade (RS) – the second such unit in the country – has been stood up. The official formation of the five-battalion strong brigade to be headquartered in Bintulu, Sarawak, was announced by Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein at Lundu, on Friday.

“The setting up of the 31st Border Brigade is another step to tighten Malaysia’s border security by the Defence Ministry,” Hishammuddin said, adding that the brigade would also assist the Royal Malaysian Police, local authorities and other agencies to look after public safety and order during security incidents or disasters.

Border Brigade Crest
Border Brigade Crest

According to Hishammuddin, the brigade will handle its own staffing needs once it gets the go-ahead from the Public Service Department and that the move would give 1,021 members of the Territorial Army to be absorbed as regulars.

When fully commissioned the brigade will have total number of 5, 626 personnel, with most of them to come from Sarawak for their “local knowledge”.

1st Infantry Division crest
1st Infantry Division crest

The 31st Border brigade will come under the purview of the 1st Infantry Division headquartered in Kuching. The division currently has three other brigades, the 3rd, Fifth and Ninth. The 3rd Brigade is based in Kem Penrissen, Kuching and the Ninth at Kem Rascom in Sibu. The Fifth Brigade is located at Kem Lok Kawi, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

The first Border Brigade = the 30th – was stood up in 2008 along the Malaysian-Thai border. The headquarters of the brigade is in Perlis while the five battalions – the 1st to Fifth – are located in Kelantan, Perak and Kedah. The battalions were originally 300-series Territorial Army units which were re-designated as the Border Brigade. This unit comes under the purview of the 2nd Infantry Division headquartered in Penang.

The setting up of the 31st Border Brigade, will allow for the the reassignment of the Fifth Brigade in Sabah to the planned Fifth Division. The new division will be headquartered in Sabah. Apart from the Fifth Brigade, the new division will have two other brigade-sized units with the third Border Brigade expected to be stood up in Sabah.

Fifth Brigade Crest
Fifth Brigade Crest

The third brigade of the new division will come out from Task Force 450, the unit set up in Eastern Sabah following the Lahad Datu incursion. The Army plans to expand the Task Force 450 into a combined arms brigade to be based in ESSCOM area of operations.

Both the 1st and the new division will come under the purview of the Army’s Eastern Field Command which was set-up following a study of its operations during the Lahad Datu incursion.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2146 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Regarding the planned 5th division in sabah

    I would prefer the 2nd of the 3 brigade under 5th division, which would be tasked in the ESSCOM area be something like an expeditionary brigade. It would have no permanent battalions assigned to it, but have them rotated on tour of duty from other battalions in semenanjung.

  2. A resident brigade in ESSCOM is essential. One weakness identified during the second emergency is that the army is put into their ops area for a period of 3 months. By the time they get familiar with the terrain its time for them to move on n get relieved by another battalion. So resident brigades make sense in that thet can gain local knowledge of the terrain , its people n they can notice unusual behaviour. Good fecision to have a combined arms team in ESSCOM

  3. Given the massive length of the bornean border, they should also plan for another rs brigade patroling the sabah/indo sector

    That will be the one being set-up for the Fifth Division.

  4. A news i heard yesterday night from one of our local tv channel, that a PRC Navy ship was spotted near Sarawak. Is it true? The thing that piqued my interest that the newscaster said it with a very low voice or subtle.

    This has happened since two years ago. Its just that the government had decided that it is not a big issue.

  5. A Chinese fisheries boat has been off Sarawak for years! I first heard this back in 2013 and a few months ago the “Diplomat” posted satellite images of the Chinese ship and a Kedah class that was shadowing it (Google it).

    Amidst at the euphoria that some may have about the raising of the new brigade; first ask where the manpower is coming from : from existing Peninsula based units. Next ask whether this will have any affect on the readiness and training cycles of the Peninsular based units that have to release manpower for this new brigade (not only rank and file and support ekenebts but also NCOs which are the backbone of any decent unit) …… We’re not exactly the Chinese army or the TNI-AD : we don’t have a large manpower pool to rely on. It’s not like thousands are conducted in the Malaysian army annually.

  6. Manpower for RS Bde slowly slowly can fill up. I think it will be far cheaper if priority given to experienced men from 1st Inf Div itself being seconded to the new Bde as they’re in-situ. AFAIC, not only Peninsula based units but every Malaysian Army formation training, readiness and TOE will be affected with standing up of 3 new Bde, 1 new Div and 1 new Field Comm.

    31 RS Bde HQ need a new permanent installation, yesterday passed its site, ground still not disturbed.

    If they are promoted they will go but if lateral transfers, not many will be interested to go the the RS battalions.

  7. Manpower for RS Bde slowly slowly can fill up. I think it will be far cheaper if priority given to experienced men from 1st Inf Div itself being seconded to the new Bde as they’re in-situ. AFAIC, not only Peninsula based units but every Malaysian Army formation training, readiness and TOE will be affected with standing up of 3 new Bde, 1 new Div and 1 new Field Comm.

    31 RS Bde HQ need a new permanent installation, yesterday passed its site, ground still not disturbed.

  8. No doubt, manpower can “slowly slowly fill up” but the fact remains that Peninsular based units will have to give up manpower for the new brigade and this will have some affect on operational readiness and training cycles : the good news in that were not in a state of conflict. No doubt, manpower levels have improved since the 1990’s but the problem remains that when weighted in comparison to the actual number of people in the army; our actual rifle strength is low.

    BTW, the PAF is busy getting to know it’s newly delivered T-50s. Heard them flying around these past few days.

  9. Sorry out of topic;

    British Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne now is in Malaysia.
    Is this related With Eurofighter Typhoon For TUDM?

    Nolah, he is here on a courtesy visit as he is leading the UK delegation to the Singapore Air Show.

  10. If i may ask, with the formation of the new brigade and the upcoming 5th div, will it mean an increase of active duty personel from the 110,000 + to a comparative 15-20%?

    More likely to 100,000 only

  11. Reduction in manpower doesnt mean the strength is low. Our infantry largely follow BIS, with a section is reduced from 12 men to 8. This is due to transition from CIW to CW in the 90s.

    MAF should better utilize the AW because they are the one with largely local populace in rank and file, not to mention that AW retain the older 12-man per section

  12. These border regiment what exactly are their functions..are they functioning just like any other infantry battalion?function like thailand border scout or indon raiders?cause there ar lots of difference interms of equipment n size of patrol team….8 men section….5 men squad team etc etc…if it is doing same function as infantry men then why bother name them border battlion …this is my idea of securing the land or sea border….lay concentina wire be it 3 layers 3 stack etc etc rather waste money on men power n logistic….place these concentina wire at certain rat hole be it 4km or 6km…rather then doing patrolling endlessly looking for sulus warriors…..korea have done it…isreal built wall along its borders so ar the americans……why waste money raising unnecessary battalion?

    They are basically line infantry to conduct patrols. If if you build wire along the whole border you still need patrols to snuff out the rat holes.

  13. Dundun,

    The BIS sections themselves don’t have enough men. This is because the section is intended to fit inside an Adnan; a problem the TA doesn’t have. Like many other peacetime armies, we have bloated HQs and people who should be doing more useful things. Anyone ever wondered what the actual rifle strength is of a Malaysian brigade?

  14. I agree they still need to do patrolling…but the similarities ends there…borders with concertina wires not normal fencing that ths been done at thai-malaysia border differs..1.fencing can be breach with wire cutter…concertina wire which is constructed properly can be breach with explosive only…try to cut concertina wire u will be wrapped with it..these sulus ar warriors but they ar not crazy .2.without” fencing” ur patrolling ar endless u might not know when u will be ambushed or come face to face with this pple….with fencing any breach u will be on alert less likely to be ambush…if ever u see them it will be on the other side of the concertina wires…fencing can be patrol not only by foot but by drones if u have one..these ar all to be mobile not stationary less u want suicide bomber to come to ur post n hug u….etc etc the possibilities ar endless……

    The Border Brigade will patrol the land borders leaving the regulars to confront the Sulus who will come by boats.

  15. “lay concertina wire be it 3 layers 3 stack etc.. rather then doing patrolling endlessly looking for sulu warriors”

    Do you think at all? If no one is patrolling, even if it takes an hour for them to cut through the wire, there will be no one to spot them doing it.

    Patrols are a must. These don’t merely include foot patrols but also helicopter, fixed wing and UAV patrols to detect them at sea if possible and organise a reaction to check contacts. Infantry are needed not only to do foot patrols but also to conduct vehicle check points, survey the inland waterways and so on. Much of the additional strength will not be conducting any operations, but will be sustaining those who do. You can’t get around the need for numbers.

  16. Just thinking out loud…

    Would the land border patrolling task be more appropriate under the home ministry, similar to what MMEA is for the maritime domain?

    Would it be more suitable if the border brigades task be performed by the police GOF? Rather than raising new army battalions, why not raise new police GOF battalions, recruiting locals like what they did with the senoi paraq in perak?

    GOF personnel are mostly stationed around official border crossings where there are bound to be illegal entry points nearby while the Border Regiment personnel at Thai-Malaysia border at least, the jungle tracks. I doubt they want to have more police personnel patrolling jungle areas nowdays.

    If they are under the police, Imo it would be easier for them to nab illegals, poachers, smugglers etc etc that criss cross the borders regularly.


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