Border Security

KUALA LUMPUR: I was relaxing at dusk on the first day of Raya in Padang Tengku when my nephew turned on the TV and clicked on RTM1. On show was a documentary I believed was titled Pengorbanan Syawal (Syawal Sacrifice).

The documentary was on the General Operations Force operations along the Perlis-Thai border during Ramadan and Syawal. It was the normal low quality documentary produced by RTM.

What caught my attention was how poorly equipped the GOF unit featured in the show. They carried M16a1s and MP5s (good guns but decades old esp the rifle) and no one was issued with personal safety gear. No body armour and ballistic helmets.

I understand the GOF, the new name for PDRM Police Field Force, by tradition, patrolled with their boonie hats but with situation in Thailand bordering on civil war , ballistic helmets should be issued to all Malaysian personnel on the border.

The helmets could be used if contact was made. With tradition ranked higher than safety, perhaps the omission of body armour was more worrying.

If policemen on patrol in the city could be supplied with body armour (though not worn all the time) and even BSN guards used body armour, why are policemen and soldiers (I am afraid even the Army sent its soldiers to the border without body armour although they are issued ballistic helmets) patrolling our borders are not issued with these personal safety gear.

The weird thing about all of these, is that the policemen featured in the show was sent to their patrol area on board on two armoured cars. If it was so dangerous they need to be sent there with armoured cars, why is it that they do not need body armour?

Every one is talking about the rising crime rate in the country but no one seemed to realise that one of the best way to reduce the chance of crime is to cut the flow of illegal contraband into the country from guns and ammo, drugs and even illegal immigrants. Do you wonder why our southern neighbour seemed to be more peaceful? Simple, they make sure their borders are secure.

The best investment we could make for our security is to ensure that those guarding our borders are given the best and latest.

Apart from the personal safety gear, the policemen on patrol were also not equipped with Night Vision Goggles, and not even torch lights although they patrolled the jungle at night! More ominous, no one seemed to be carrying walkie-talkie, let alone a GPS tracker that in case they ran into trouble, the battalion headquarters would be able to intervene decisively.

The armoured car that sent the GOF platoon had machine guns but clearly if the patrols had ran into trouble they would be unable to intervene as they only had line of sight weapons.

As the border is long and the terrain is difficult, perhaps the police and Mindef could look into using the latest high tech devices from short range radar, sound, infra red and micro-wave detectors to help our security personnel in their duties.

Foot patrols remained necessary of course but it could be augmented by UAVs, aerostat and satellite imaging. Furthermore, mounted operations on the latest mine resistance ambush protected vehicles is a must. These vehicles must also be equipped with mortars or missile launchers so they could helped soldiers and policemen on patrol if they encounter determine enemy on the ground.

One must never underestimate what criminal gangs would do to protect their contraband. If money (bribes) doesnt work, they would always resort to guns and more guns

The RTM documentary is a real eye opener. Although it is just limited to one small area of our country border, it could be repeated all across the nation the very moment you read this post.

–Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

6 Comments

  1. It is sad that the GOF personnel are not equipped with night vision goggles, body armour and ballistic helmets. Sometime back, Najib announced the possibility of creating a dedicated border patrol force, whatever happen to it ? Perhaps if the border patrol force is established the necessary equipment will be supplied.

    I understand the need to have non line of sight weapons, mortars perhaps … but missiles ?

  2. Probably the garden variety anti-tank guided missiles with an all purpose warhead like the TOW or the Pakistani Baktar Shikan. The real reason is that missiles could be guided into the target. One need to be really trained on mortars to hit the target instead of the soldiers we want to protect but I admit it remained a line-of-sight weapon.

    On the Army Border Regiment, it is just a renaming of the current 303 series Wataniah Regiment, meaning its really reorganisation not a modernisation of the regiment. The 303 series regiment are already posted along the Thai-Malaysian border.

  3. Truck mounted ATGMs? What about APCs like Condor that we have aplenty for use by GOF conducting border patrol ? It is not equipped with ATGMs but it packs enough punch for possible skirmishes with smugglers.

    Interestingly enough, in the Battle of Mogadishu, none of the extraction convoy of Task Force Ranger had any ATGMs, not even MK-19 was mounted on HUMVEEs. Apparently they fear causing massive civilian casualties had they enter the Bakara market with MK-19 mounted on HUMVEEs.

    By the way, in your previous posting you replied to my suggestion that AC-130 is expensive to maintain but you didn’t say anything about my suggestion about a dedicated helicopters for special forces. I know it would be wishful thinking to suggest a Pave Low type, but I am alright with even Mi-24.

    Imagine the force multiplier effect if the special forces have a dedicated helicopters for assault. US and Israel effectively used Pave Low for assault by their special forces. I know the comparison to US and Israel is a bit unfair considering our budgetary constraint, but i know that we can make request to US under the Excess Defence Articles. We even bought Newport class for a bargain price of USD 2.6M under EDA.

  4. The Condor is already 30 year-old, and like the rest of the fleet it is only equipped with one man turret. It is not a good idea to perpetuate such a bad idea. A new vehicle like the MRAP with stand-off weapons would be a much better idea.

    A joint-Spec-Ops helicopter fleet is actually already in existence. The Nuri! Even if they purchased three different type of helicopters for each services within the next five years, actually in reality, it will be a joint-fleet as RMAF pilots will be flying them!

    Whatever you want to say about RMAF, they really come out with good helo pilots. notwithstanding the CFT incidents. It is probably RMAF culture. The army air wing and navy pilots came from the same training school.

    We cannot buy PAVE LOW as it is full of restricted equipment so the US will not sale it to us. Even the Israeli uses a different type of technology for their spec ops helos. Even pave lows used in Vietnam was never sold to anybody.

    Speaking about the LST, did you know that we spent about RM40 million (yes more than what we purchased it for) to repair the ship after it caught fire several years ago.

  5. I hope you don’t mind me prodding you on the issue of spec ops helo.

    I understand that heavy lifters like the Pave Lows are not something we can afford. I made use of Pave Low as an example because the US Spec Ops have used it extensively during the Afghan war and the invasion of Iraq and Pave Low is like the classic when it comes to spec ops helo.

    When I suggested a dedicated spec ops helo, I mean a dedicated spec ops helo (say for example an MH60L or Mi24), with upgraded eletronics, armour and with a bit of armament thrown in, a joint special forces aviation wing. Not to be shared with others, the helicopters would be tailor made for spec ops. It would also be nice if we could follow the UK and have a unified command over all 3 spec ops services. Our defence force after all is quite small and with limited assets.

    I didn’t know about the LST being caught on fire. But one should never discount buying EDA. Turkey with large defence budget got 3 Knox class frigates and 2 Perry class frigates under EDA and if I am not mistaken so did the Thais (2 Knox). The only bad thing about buying EDA is that the politicians dont make a commission out of it.

    Granted those may be out dated, but defence spending although a necessity is such a waste that, where possible either you milk it via off set programme, barter trade, ToT or get ’em free when you can.

  6. For the Spec Ops helo, a missionised AW101 with terrain following radar and IR turrets would be a good choice, the same helicopter would also have to be used for CSAR, the mission profile is almost the same.

    The EDA would have been programme for us to continue but with the US being so unpopular over here with iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine and with its Congress placing all sort of restrictions when selling things to us (no source codes for the Hornets unlike the Singapore F16s) it will be hard for MIndef to justify the deal to us.

    Even the M16 purchase is rumoured to be in trouble as the Congress took their own sweet time to clear it. Mindef apparently was not amused by it. I however am pretty pleased with development as I believed the army deserves a better AR.

    It is cheaper of course but with RMN pervasion to gas turbines buying ships fitted with these powerplants will not be appreciated.

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