KUALA LUMPUR: If one was troubled by the PV fiasco, outrage should be the natural reaction after reading the Auditor-General report on the management of the Army’s personal combat equipment.
Why outrage? It is not only the amount of money wasted on defective equipment but the fact that the Army actually allowed these products to be issued to soldiers.
If its just a camouflage uniform that was not stitched correctly, it would not be that outrageous but with some 5,000 defective ballistic helmets issued to soldiers, it is simply unacceptable.
It is outrageous because the Army is aware of the helmets weaknesses, its testing team had conducted tests on them and concluded that these helmets did not meet the armed forces requirements.
It means that these “ballistic” helmets have no ballistic protection at all and the soldiers would be better off using the Givi motorcycle helmets for duty. Its lighter and cheaper for that matter
Outrageous because instead of chucking the whole batch into the lap of the contractor, Seri Mukali Sdn Bhd, the Army for reasons unknown, actually issued them to its combat units.
As the audit report concluded “the supplier should have been told to replace the helmets with those meeting the contract specifications or be fined accordingly” ,which of course was not followed.
According to the report, based on the army testing, the quality of the helmets made by Seri Mukali, was not consistent with one batch manufactured in July, 2006 meeting the specifications while another 5,000 helmets made just one month later failing the testing.
The report went on to say ” Bagaimanapun, helmet berkenaan telah diagihkan untuk kegunaan anggota tentera.”
Malaysian Defence believes the decision to issue the defective helmets is completely wrong. In fact, it is criminally negligent and also a dereliction of duty on the part of those directly involved in making the decision.
Malaysian Defence also believes that the Army should immediately withdraw these defective helmets and punished those involved in issuing them.
Sub-standard uniforms and blistering boots may be uncomfortable (though our soldiers may have more thoughts on this), defective helmets are deadly even during training exercises.
One thing though was not revealed by the report. How many helmets that were actually manufactured by Seri Mukali? As the contract was worth some Rm19 million and with a unit price of RM481 and RM484, depending on size, Malaysian Defence guess-timates that more than 40,000 helmets were manufactured from 2004 to 2006.
How many are defective? At least 5,000 were found to be defective, and with another 5,000 meeting the specifications, leaving a probable 30,000 helmets of undetermined quality being used by soldiers in combat and training operations.
Seri Mukali will not be affected by the audit’s revelations. Their contract which also include repairing and re-painting the helmets, ended on Dec 12, 2006. Anyways, they can always cry “national interest” to prevent any further probes into the deal
For Malaysian Defence, the audit report is a clear revelation on how Mindef works and doesnt work but as similar happening are reported every year, one wonders how effective it is.
Malaysian Defence believes the best way to ensure fiscal and monitoring discipline was for the defence budget to be itemised in detail when it is presented to parliament for approval.
Anyhow, it is also disheartening to find out that the army Personal Combat Equipment only included camouflaged uniform, ballistic helmet, webbing (which include water pouches, compass case, belt and patrol pack) and combat boots.
Based on that list, Malaysian Defence presumes that other essential items for a modern soldier – bullet proof vest, weapon holster, goggles , NBC gear, gloves, socks, undies etc – are not considered as personal combat equipment but as optional gear based on case to case basis.
With the Armed Forces set to emulate the US military concept as reported by the New Sunday Times today, one wonders whether the additional gear would be included in the future.
“Army to adopt ‘soldier of future’ concept”
KUALA LUMPUR: The defence forces will adopt the “soldier-of-the-future” concept practised by the United States to meet the country’s defence needs, said defence forces chief Gen Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Zainal.
He said under the concept, defence forces personnel would be exposed to the latest technologies and be equipped with sophisticated weapons to make sure they kept abreast of the times.
“At the same time, their discipline will also be boosted to make sure they are combat ready.
“The new doctrine has been approved by the Defence Ministry and is awaiting implementation,” he said in conjunction with the defence forces’ 74th anniversary here yesterday.”
Based on the report, it does sound impressive but if the army continue to issue defective equipment to its soldiers, all of that planning and hot air will come to naught.
— Malaysian Defence
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