Softies and the Army’s Responsibilities

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KUALA LUMPUR: The country’s top soldier and one of his generals seemed to have a different opinion on the toughness of the current batch of recruits joining the force (see bernama story below).

But in the next breath, Tan Sri Muhammad Ismail quickly corrected himself, stating it could be that reporters had misquoted retiring First Infantry Division Commander Let Gen Datuk Muhd Effendi on his softie remark.

I stand to be corrected but I believed the retiring three star was quoted correctly with the NST saying that Effendi even suggesting that only tough guys and gals should apply to join the army. Wimps need not apply.

I believed that Jen Muhammad was being diplomatic when he was asked to comment on the story. One need to be the consummate diplomat to become the top soldier. It is not a bad thing but sometimes, it does not make a good copy.

Are the new generation less tough compared to their fathers? I believe so but the situation between the two are totally different.

For example, my dad, a former soldier, ran away from home to join the army at 16. At 16 I was more concerned about watching TV. My father joined the army not because he wanted to defend the country but he was looking for an opportunity to escape the drudgery of becoming another paddy planter while for me, I had the whole world to go for (to be honest of which I did not)

At 26, my father was already married to my mother, had a child, and had been to Congo and was already leading a rifle platoon and was on his way to become an instructor at Pulada. At that age, I had just joined the NST and was looking forward to a long career in the journalism trenches.

It is just my opinion but I believed that the problems in the army and the armed forces in general, are not wimpy recruits but it is larger than that. I cannot put my finger on all of them, but I believed one of them is the lack of good leadership.

It was good leadership that nurtured a Sekolah Melayu 6 certificate holder from Sungai Besar to rose through the ranks and become one of the instructors at the army jungle warfare centre. My father never become an officer but it was not for the lack of trying.

As for the Generals, how can you claimed that the current recruits are soft when it was officers who allowed unsafe “ballistic helmets” to be issued to soldiers?

How can you claimed moral high ground when you allow soldiers under your command patrolling our borders without body armour and the latest soldier tech while those sent overseas are so equipped?

How can you claimed to be a leader when you know that those below you are ruling by fear and not respect? There are dozen of examples but I believe three is enough.

To me simply, the debate should not be about the generation gap but the ability and capability gap especially for those with the power to do something about it.

–Malaysian Defence

No Softies In The Army, Says Army Chief

General

October 18, 2007 16:18 PM

KUANTAN, Oct 18 (Bernama) — There are no “softies” in the army and Malaysian soldiers are tough physically and mentally and able to think quickly on their feet, Army Chief Gen Tan Sri Muhammad Ismail Jamaluddin said Thursday.

He said First Infantry Division Commander Lt-Gen Datuk Muhd Effendi Mustaffa’s remark that the army recruits were too soft was Effendi’s personal perception.

“The comment is a personal statement by him or is taken out of context by the reporters.

“It does not reflect the army’s observation and finding,” he told reporters after meeting officers and personnel of the Malaysian Contingent (MALCON II) here.

He said the word softie was a misnomer as he believed that challenges were one of the criteria that made young men and woman join the army.

“Remember that they were civilians first before joining and therefore the army’s basic recruit training programme, which lasts six months, is focused on toughening them up physically and mentally,” he said.

At the end of the programme, those who made the grade, which is quite stringent, were posted to units while those who failed were discharged, he said.

Asked to comment on ragging incidents in the army, Muhammad Ismail said they were isolated cases.

Nevertheless, he would not condone such action and those found guilty would be severely punished and could be dishonorably discharged from the armed forces.

“We find that there are two main causes of this problem (ragging), namely, overzealous seniors trying to induct new recruits into the unit and lack of command and control by commanding officers,” he said.

Meanwhile, 358 officers and personnel under MALCON II will leave in stages for Lebanon to replace MALCON I in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the war-torn country.

The first batch of 90, including 12 women, is scheduled to leave on Oct 22 and the main body on Oct 29.

Muhammad Ismail said the involvement of women personnel for the first time in the nine-month mission showed that that there was no discrimination between men and women in the military.

“The women personnel will also carry out patrols and checks but will not be invovled in direct combat,” he said.

— BERNAMA

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