A Guest Post by AM
PORT DICKSON: The Malaysian Army celebrated its 82nd anniversary at Port Dickson on March 7 with a sea, air and land demonstration that brought together some of the most interesting units in the Malaysian Army and support from the Royal Malaysian Air Force.
For men of the Army’s Special Forces Group, the day began long before the formal start at 8.00am with the arrival of the top brass. At least two Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats took up station in the distance at 7.30am, accompanied by lightly crewed safety craft.
A RMAF EC-725 Cougar or H225M now was seen making preliminary orbits of the area, as much for familiarization as to sanitize the area. A gaggle of four colourful, fast moving vessels approached the army flotilla and was brought to a halt by a swift reacting safety craft. Any speculation that these were fodder for the commandos ended when the civilian craft departed and made no further appearance.
Clutching the script like doctrine, a ragged band of hooligans took center stage with their unfortunate hostage. These were not seaborne pirates but radicalised returnees from the Middle East, strolling under heavenly protection and with a penchant for random celebratory gunfire.
At the start of the demo, paratroopers performed the para dance and conducted a martial arts show.
The kidnappers, who had now been branded as terrorists, jealously reclaimed attention with sporadic rifle fire. A pair of AgustaWestland AW109s executed their primary mission as aerial scouts.
This brought on the arrival of a Royal Malaysian Air Force C-130H which discharged six Special Forces jumpers under round canopy chutes. The RHIB teams picked their reinforcements from the water and launched a coordinated assault with land and air elements.
The Cougar returned with a section of Special Forces aboard. Some operators helocasted into the water close to the hut chosen by the armed rabble. Another three two-man teams fast roped onto the beach as the Cougar hovered, washing a cloud of fine sand into the crowd. These men approached the target discreetly until shots were fired.
This prompted other fire teams to empty their MP5s into the building, advancing cover to cover with Spetsnaz style somersaults. Local tides were at their highest, so commandos on the RHIBs joined in the fire as they powered right up to the hut. The pair of AW109s hovered with their doors open, providing overwatch with sniper or machine gun fire.
When the hostage was led out of the structure, he and four of his rescuers hooked up their STABO harnesses to a cable from a waiting EC-725. The balance of the assault force made off on the RHIBs.
The end of the demonstration was heralded by the demolition of the kidnappers’ structure and a flypast of the three helicopters. Following which, the army brass proved a popular focus for photographers. They took their leave shortly after 10.00 am in favour of the PUSASDA nearby, allowing observers to turn their attention to the static display.
(Based on the description above, the demonstration was somewhat similar to the last year’s demonstration albeit without the beach assault part. Ed)
Units and Equipment
The Malaysian Army usually draws on units and equipment in the area when it holds a public display. The importance and location of the occasion made for an especially rich static display.
The Port Dickson area is arguably the centre of mass of Malaysian land combat power. Several important operational units and a large part of the institutional base are sited in or close to the town.
A study of the Malaysian army would not be complete without considering the geographic and historical decisions that led the British army to establish itself in this part of the peninsula, and our army to concentrate our most important units here. I believe the answer may lie between the three demands of defending the west coast, strategic mobility and political sensitivity, Malacca being one of only two states without a sultan in pre-independence history.
(A recent study showed that the British chose Port Dickson as a training centre mostly due to the weather. Port Dickson recorded on average about 30 days of rain annually, allowing training to be conducted almost all year round. ED)
Present at the demonstration on March 7 was the 8th Battalion, Royal Ranger Regiment, one of three Rapid Deployment Force (PAC) battalions at Kem Terendak, Malacca. The Army Air Wing from Kluang, Johor participated in the live demonstration. The Grup Gerak Khas brought a large collection of long rifles from their secretive Kem Syed Sirajuddin at Mersing, Johor.
These included the Denel NTW-20 20mm and Barrett M95 12.7mm anti-materiel rifles and the Colt CM901 7.62mm battle rifle. Unfortunately, they were not able to reveal the distribution of these weapons.
Incidentally, all three units are outside the command of the Army Field Headquarters and the Field Commander, another important matter which deserves study. Vehicles exhibited by Grup Gerak Khas were their ladder-equipped Ford Ranger in its guise as a Rapid Intervention Vehicle, and the Glover Webb Fast Strike Vehicle.
Displayed by components of 10th Paratrooper Brigade were URO VAMTAC 4x4s armed with a .50 caliber Browning HMG and a Mark 19 Automatic Grenade Launcher, and a gun mover for the 1st Regiment Royal Artillery’s Model 56 pack howitzers. A rack for five rifles was seen in the cargo bed of the latter vehicle. Counting the front seated passenger, it may suggest a gun crew of six.
One of the Oto Melara Model 56 packed howitzers was displayed as it would be readied for parachute delivery into a landing zone.
Finally, members of 10th Paratrooper brigade were observed with M4A1 carbines sporting the Aimpoint T-Micro sight. The weapons are otherwise bare, but are notably superior to the M4A1s sans optics seen with GGK units on other occasions.
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