Joint Special Operations Command

A Special Forces officerstalks on his radio with his signaller. RSD picture.

SHAH ALAM: Joint Special Operations Command. Months after the National Special Operations Force (NSOF) was quietly disbanded, the Armed Forces chief Gen.Zulkifli Zainal Abidin today announced that the military will set up a Joint Special Operations Command (JSO) tasked with duties of national and strategic interest.

He did not say when the new command will be stood up and where but it will work together with the Joint Force Headquarters and Armed Forces Headquarters. It is likely the three special forces units in the military – GGK, Paskal and Paskau – will work together under a single command much like NSOF though without the police’s own UTK and MMEA Star team.

NSOF personnel conducting a Hostage Rescue demonstration at the launch of the unit in Oct 27. 2016

The new command will likely come under direct control of the Armed Forces chief instead of the National Security Council like those of NSOF. GGK is likely to lead the command as it is the biggest SF unit in the military though it is likely the chief’s post will be rotated among the units.

Paskal range of HK firearms displayed at the NSOF launch in 2016. The XM8 carbine is the one nearest with the HK417 next to it.

Zulkifli also said 2019 will see the military work to develop its joint-ness capability. He said towards this,the Armed Forces is in the process of creating regional joint command to better integrate the three services in conducting operations.

An exercise called Ex Pahlawan will be held in October to test the joint ness of the three services and the new JSO.

Last October, Malaysian Defence had reported that NSOF was disbanded but the story was made off line following several requests of those involved. People were not keen to confirm the disbandment as the NSOF was launched by the then Prime Minister himself and would like to have the current Prime Minister, who ordered the disbandment, to announce it officially. The story was also reported on Shephard Media so you can see it here. You can also find my story on the disbandment by searching for it on Google.

Some of the firearms of NSOF at the launch ceremony

I apologised to anyone who was offended by my decision to take the story offline but I am not a big media publication which can write anything on the military and still get invited, not only to cover their events but also paid to give pep-talk to military big-wigs themselves.

It is interesting to note that as our comments section are talking about the need for the military to relook of its priorities due to fiscal difficulties they actually want to increase the expenditure further.

–Malaysian Defence

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16 Comments

  1. A good decision to ensure the best unit to use to deal with the incident. But to be more effective the PDRM n MMEA should be invited to join in . This is to prevent duplication of effort n blue on blue.

  2. So bsically the NSOF minus other “special forces units”? I don’t get it. Why? Then where’s the joint-ness in that new outfit?

    All the SOFs has their unique roles and can complement each other but only if there is an oversight chain of command that can identify and use these resources. Having the UTK in the loop, the JSO would able to allocate them for urban & low level terror response.

  3. @ Marhalim

    “It is interesting to note that as our comments section are talking about the need for the military to relook of its priorities due to fiscal difficulties they actually want to increase the expenditure further”

    Right now of course we need to relook out priorities. Things such as
    MPA (probably convert our existing CN235 to MPA)
    LCA/LIFT
    LMS (the ship is fine but the price is not)
    Kedah Class (forget about building new kedah class and pass this task to APMM with their cheaper Damen 1800 OPV)
    NCO (IMO this is needed for the whole of navy and airforce, but only selected army formations like SF, PARA, MECH, armor, artillery, air defence, risik and signals)

    The increased expenditure is for the next Rancangan Malaysia, starting 2021 Rancangan Malaysia ke 12. Im looking at just 10% increase from what we have now, and to be constant for 20 more years to come. That would not give us unlimited buying powers, but enough to get our basic needs.

  4. What i am looking at is for the development expenditure for each 5 year Rancangan Malaysia to be:

    Navy USD2billion
    Air force USD1.6billion
    Army USD1billion

    That number will need the budget to be increased by around 10%. Still it would be very tight to get any big ticket items (like MRCAs, which clearly need to suck the budget of at least 2 rancangan malaysia)

    With such a limited resource, even my previous TUDM plan needs to be pared down further.

  5. Restore the chain of command away from that ridiculous NSC in other words.

    @…
    10% yoy increase is a lot

    Reply
    That’s why they disbanded NSOF to get the NSC out of the loop of command.

  6. @Neb
    Cute but really, having a partial SOF means the rest doesn’t know what is happening. They might be deployed as well and, because special forces teams are usually all black and unmarked, the chances of friendly fire is very real and very likely.

    Having 2 management of SOFs means a duplication of activities and wasteful resources (that includes lives). I thought PH is about eliminating this, not create their own wastages?

    JSO should have been mirrored to US JSOC where all SOFs are under a singular command regardless to which branch of US military their joint commander comes from. In our context, a low-medium threat response would be tricky, whether to use GGK, UTK, or Renjer. With clear oversight like JSOC and good intel, an appropriate response can be taken without duplication of effort and risk of friendly fire.

  7. On paper it’s a good move but in reality will the establishment of this new command really lead to an improvement in policy and how SF operations are conducted? Will it really lead to more “joint ness” and less service infighting and will the right people be posted to this command? Or will it be like the Joint Forces HQ in which those waiting retirement or placed in cold storage ended up?

    How will this new command ensure that the unit best suited for the job be selected for a particular op? Will another unit, despite not being suited for a particular op, be selected because it has stronger backing and needs to justify funding? Even in Tier 1 militaries despite all the “jointness”, tri service issues can still be a major problem with the various services still not fully understanding how their sister services operate and with turf guarding still prevalent.

  8. @ chua

    It is not 10% YOY. It is 10% of 2019 budget, and to be maintained for at least 3-4 rancangan malaysia’s

    @ Joe

    US JSOC also did not include police teams. UTK is clearly a police force, not military. So what is your complaint exactly??

  9. Lee,

    What added value is there in having the police and MMEA join? At it is, having 3 different services to work alongside each other is a problem and here we are talking about the police and MMEA.

    To really make a difference this joint command has to have as little bureaucratic red tape as possible and it has to have the right people in place, that know what they’re doing and can make the needed decisions, in line with a flexible and clear chain of command, with a clear and realistic understanding of what our SF unit’s can and cant do. On top of that the 3 armed services have to put their own interests/agendas aside to achieve a common goal: much easier said than done.

  10. “Cute but really, having a partial SOF means the rest doesn’t know what is happening. They might be deployed as well and, because special forces teams are usually all black and unmarked, the chances of friendly fire is very real and very likely.”

    The military will only deploy SOF (or any other unit) in support of a police operation if the police request it and have a role for it. It is not as if the services will deploy troops on their own initiative without telling anyone. Unless of course they were seizing power.

    “Having 2 management of SOFs means a duplication of activities and wasteful resources”

    Even in the days of the the NSOF HQ, separate command structures existed for the police and for each service specific SOF.

    In the first place, how integrated were the various units under NSOF? Did any joint training take place and was there an effort to have some of the interoperability you mentioned, or was it simply a house of borrowed units?

    “JSO should have been mirrored to US JSOC”

    You say this but JSOC and USSOCOM do not include police SOF units.

  11. @… & AM
    JSOC may not have an equivalent police SOF unit in their oversight but they do have many more military SOF teams than we do. While their SOFs are an arm of the police, their equipment and tactics certainly are geared more towards military special forces. Having the ability to command them in handling 1st response low threat situations is certainly advantageous and their quick initial assessment of the situation may prove vital if the military SOFs would be needed had it turns out to be a mid level threat which UTK/GGK are not equipped to handle.

    Again, please read my explanation on mirroring the JSOC approach. I didn’t say to copy it blindly and limit its reach to military SOFs. JSOC, in having the clear chain of command and appropriate mandate, are able to cut thru intra service redtapes and confusion to better manage the situation and having the authority to allocate the appropriate resources necessary.

    Neither did I say NSOF was the best that we could do but at least better than JSO with its wider scope of oversight. As AM put it well, NSOF had some problems and they should have been overcomed, not to disband that organisation.

  12. “As AM put it well, NSOF had some problems and they should have been overcomed, not to disband that organisation.”

    To be clear, I never said NSOF should not be disbanded.

  13. One thing is to have a centralized command structure.

    Another important thing to do is to eliminate all (well not all but most) of the duplication of capabilities of the myriad formations of SF that we have.

    IMO

    Gerak Khas
    – CT
    – jungle asymetrical warfare
    – urban special tactics/sabotage
    – regional experts (language/culture/area)

    PASKAL
    – littoral warfare
    – VBSS/anti vessel hijacking
    – anti piracy
    – port facility sabotage

    PASKAU
    – Combat SAR
    – JTAC/FAC

    All the aircraft hijacking stuff to be left with police/UTK.

    Reply
    Both GGK and Paskau CT are also trained and primed for HR in aircraft hijacking.

  14. @ marhalim

    That is the issue, too many formations doing the same thing.

    PASKAU, they are trying to do everything other people is doing, why? IMO they should specialize in something others dont do, which is combat SAR/rescue jumpers. They should also be the center of excellence for forward air controllers/JTAC, and be the seamless link between the fighter pilots and elements to be supported on the ground.

    Reply
    Paskau has been training for aircraft hijacking for years now probably as a result of the GGK then were mostly involved in the CW. GGK became involved in all CT since 9/11.

  15. When the air force cant even commit resources to do proper QRA and air policing duties, a ground unit practicing to storm hijacked airplanes is superfluous.

    Anyway IMO it is a task PASKAU could do without.

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