When Airborne Goes Feet Wet

A guest post by Ferret.

SHAH ALAM: THERE have been several good discussions here about amphibious forces. But to start this article, I would like to remind ourselves of what they’re good for. Most of the literature say they are good for establishing a landing site for larger friendly forces, deny the enemy use of an area and, of course, the grandfather of amphibious operations, conducting raids to destroy facilities, gather intelligence and for deception.

Does Malaysia need amphibious forces? Yes, since Malaysia is not like Nepal, Laos or Afghanistan. It is an archipelago: peninsular Malaysia and Sabah are surrounded by the sea on three sides while Sarawak on one, and there are several plausible scenarios where an amphibious action may be the only viable option. One example is executing a contested landing on one of its many islands, either to reoccupy the island or to deny the enemy its use.

Malaysian soldiers at RIMPAC 2014. They are referred as "Malaysian Marines" in the US captions below. The M16A2s and armour vest are obviously on loan from the US Marines. Malaysian Marines "prepare to engage "enemy" forces at Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) during the air assault portion of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014. Twenty-two nations, 49 ships and six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 26 to Aug. 1 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2014 is the 24th exercise in the series that began in 1971. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mathew J. Diendorf/Released)
Malaysian soldiers at RIMPAC 2014. They are referred as “Malaysian Marines” in the US captions below. The M16A2s and armour vest are obviously on loan from the US Marines.
Malaysian Marines “prepare to engage “enemy” forces at Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) during the air assault portion of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014. Twenty-two nations, 49 ships and six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 26 to Aug. 1 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2014 is the 24th exercise in the series that began in 1971. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mathew J. Diendorf/Released)

Who should constitute the landing force of Malaysia’s amphibious forces? Watching the video of the Army Day seaborne demo (nod to Malaysian Defence.com) at Port Dickson, it appears that one of the Para battalion has been earmarked and, according to reports, perhaps a couple of line infantry battalions as well.

(The footage of the landing demo was very bad due to the unfavourable location permitted to the press and the lack of a tripod. -ED)

But of course, watching a dedicated airborne unit conducting a seaborne assault has raised some questions in my mind (not knowing the “evolution” of the exercise beforehand, I had expected to see a different unit). Conversions of Army battalions into new roles are nothing new, but in the case of amphibious forces I would argue the case for the conversion of one or more of the RGK regiments.

Malaysian soldiers taking part in RIMPAC 2014 exercise.
Malaysian soldiers taking part in RIMPAC 2014 exercise.

Why do I say this? Well, first, there’s the history. The RGK was formed at Tun Razak’s behest with help from the UK’s Royal Marines at Majidee Camp; hence symbols of the RM — the green beret, the Fairburn-Sykes knife, the lanyard, and the name “Komando” for the new unit. And the RGK has been involved in amphibious training and operations ever since. In fact, it was the de-facto amphibious force before the advent of Paskal, some of whom had initial training with Indonesia’s Marinir (and hence the crimson beret and the initial qualification badge). (GGK’s Special Boat Squadron is still active – ED)

Get Ready.
Get Ready.

Since they have been doing things amphibious all their life, I have always thought that the GGK (perhaps less one regiment for SAS-type roles) would be the ideal unit for conversion into an amphibious force. I would think that they were born for it — in general they’ve been trained to perform tasks done by the Royal Marines and they would be doing nothing different from what they have been doing all this while.

What about Paskal? Paskal has proven itself to be very good in the SBS role. It should ultimately be the nucleus of the specialist commando unit of the amphibious force. (Paskal is actually more attuned to SEALs. Every year they send a junior officer to Coronado to undergo training there – Ed)

Having said all that it could well be that the GGK have been earmarked for other tasks and operational constraints prevent their conversion. If that is the case, so be it. But it does raise an interesting question: wouldn’t 10 Para, the MAF’s rapid reaction force, be short of a parachute battalion? Is a brigade-sized airborne force, together with its supporting arms, no longer needed? I know “Flexibility” is a Principle of War but asking a unit to specialise in two roles (airborne and amphibious) is asking too much isn’t it?

Hold, Hold
Hold, Hold

Related to that, why do we have to look to the US Marines Corps (specifically, the MEU/MEB) for a model? Don’t get me wrong — the USMC is among the best in the world and the single superpower amphibious force remaining, but why are we not also looking at the Royal Marines (RM)? (Basically the US Marines are available in our vicinity due to their Forward Deployed strategy. Small teams of British Army and RM advisers are deployed to Malaysia annually, it must be noted including SF ones. Their visits are never publicised for reasons unknown – Ed)

I’m not talking about fighting prowess or firepower here; the USMC is at the top and no other marine outfit can beat it. I’m talking about “modeling”. My understanding of “modeling” is the usual dictionary one: “To try to make yourself very similar to someone else”.

Looking at our situation, it may be better to look at a smaller unit than a very large and well-endowed one. The US is a rich country, its armed forces are equipped beyond the means of any country in the world. But being rich brings along with it a “rich man’s” mindset. One of the problems of rich men is that they can’t think small or think cheap: who can afford to routinely expend divisional firepower to dislodge a platoon of Vietcong as happened during the Vietnam war? Not the UK and certainly not us.

If we model ourselves on the USMC, we are going to fight like them and that entails a very large logistic tail. We’ll need equipment similar to theirs, which we certainly can’t afford.

The RM, on the other hand, has several things going for it vis-a-vis the MAF. There’s the history (all of Malaysia’s wars since 1941), commonality in terms of traditions, military culture and doctrine, and thus operational familiarity. The sea component of the amphibious force, the RMN, is based on the Royal Navy, the parent service of the RM.

Also, there’s the FPDA. Operating under the ambit of FPDA has its advantages: it is low-key, well-established and not likely to raise the hackles of powers who view the US as a rival, if not an overtly hostile nation, in the Pacific and the South China Sea. (Sending an RM Task Force for a beach landing exercise even for FPDA is too expensive. More over the last decade or so, they were not available as they were mostly tasked in Iraq and Afghanistan) – Ed).

But most of all, the Royal Marines are what our amphibious force want to be: a brigade-sized force — small, well-trained, well-equipped and potent.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2149 Articles
Shah Alam

1 Comment

  1. AM says:
    January 23, 2015 at 11:54 am

    “So how does one overcome it? See paras 2 & 3…”

    An enemy who lands successfully on Singapore will find the tactics you cited are absolutely necessity. I would say anyone who can put a large force on Singapore has a fair chance. That can only be done either with the element of surprise or by engaging in a conventional battle to wear down the SAF before the invasion.

    Surprise will be impossible to achieve because large troop movements inevitably take time and are impossible to conceal. There will be gradual warnings from the SAF. At the ultimate stage, the SAF’s standing forces will strike preemptively and the reservists, having additional refresher training, will mobilize quickly and suddenly.

    The conventional option assumes that one has the deep pockets to build up a large force at Singapore’s doorstep over many years. Not necessarily rich, just large and willing to spend consistently. This will have to be an extremely competent and large military that surpasses the level of the PLA versus Taiwan- considering that the PLA will not be ready for many years. This force will have to take on and wear down the completely mobilized SAF.

    Singapore’s grand strategy is to build its defences such that no one is willing to embark on the kind of generational effort that will be necessary to defeat the SAF. This transformation will be difficult to achieve in a lifetime, much less the time spans that are relevant in politics.

    Singapore in its early years had a local defence strategy that was nicknamed “poisoned shrimp”. This changed to a strategy of preemptive strikes to keep the battle outside Singapore territory. If a rich and powerful threat to Singapore emerges in the future, at which point Singapore is numerically challenged by comparably sophisticated forces, some elements of the old strategy will probably return.
    Ferret says:
    January 23, 2015 at 8:43 am

    Hmm, interesting debate about Singapore’s defence now ;]. Here’s my take.

    Singapore is a city state on a small island about 50 x 25 km, separated from the Malaysian mainland by a narrow straits. Population about 6 million, dominated by Chinese (before somebody gets hot under the collar unnecessarily, I’m not being racist, just applying Clausewitz’s “wondrous trinity”) and therefore there’s good social cohesion, and a significant number of migrant workers. It has a well developed defence industry but has to import all raw materials for it.

    It does not have a hinterland. By itself, the country does not have the basic necessities to sustain life. It doesn’t have enough water, grow its own food or extract fuel. It is not known to have many fishermen.

    In a gist, in the event of an out-and-out conflict, Singapore has to prevent its people from dying of thirst, hunger or inability to watch their favourite Amerrcan movie, first.

    Its armed forces assume an offensive stance (cf Indonesia or Malaysia which have defensive stances. Don’t forget that Indonesia has a land and sea area as big as continental Europe to protect) — with airborne, mechanised and amphibious infantry, and armoured brigades. It has the strongest air force in the region and a very strong navy.

    It’s a defence based on a ‘poison pill’ strategy. Militarily, it’s a ‘cili padi’ (some say it’s a ground cili padi — get too close and it’ll bite your nose). So how does one overcome it? See paras 2 & 3. Also read up on FIBUA/OBUA/MOUT, Soviet/Russian ops in Grozny/Chechnya, Israeli operations in Gaza and the Geneva Conventions and International Humanitarian Law.
    Ferret says:
    January 23, 2015 at 7:13 am


    Yes, they were actually good friends & wrote good books about the Falklands. Thompson also wrote a book about the UK Paras.

    Did you know Jeremy Moore came here after he retired as part of a trade delegation (we bought their ambulances)?
    azlan says:
    January 23, 2015 at 3:20 am


    My take is that Singapore’s concern about ballistic defence is not about future threats from “outside” the region but much closer to home: Indonesia. Bear in mind that Indonesia publicly expressed an interest for Scuds in the 1990’s and at present is working with the Chinese to develop a land attack version of the
    C-802. There is also nothing stopping Indonesia from making an off the shelf buy of something like Brahmos.

    That Singapore has gone to great lengths to strengthen it’s bilateral defence relationship with Indonesia (in the 1990s TNI officials stated that they had suspicions that Singapore’s desire to expend ties was also to send Malaysia a message) in the form of consultations on shared regional concerns; joint exchanges and training opportunities for the TNI is also telling.

    I’ll be a broken record and say again that like it’s neighbours Singapore faces a dilemma: military options (in Singapore’s case, despite a policy of maintaining an edge over neighbours and spending more) does not provide solutions to the threats currently faced or is likely to be faced in the coming decade; which is why there is now increased focus on regional cooperation in the form of dialogues, and other areas of mutual benefit.
    AM says:
    January 22, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    “You might think we over doing it.”

    I did not say Singapore was overdoing it. If I were a Singaporean, I would be proud of your achievements in defence. You are very right that no one knows what is in these shelters. Let me add that some have “No Smoking, POL Store” signs.

    “Remember we r looking at anti balisitc defend..tat not for because region has it. But outside region.”

    I disagree that Singapore will ever be the target of (Chinese?) ballistic missiles. To me, this one statement is not sensible.

    Singapore is a facilitator of the US for logistics use. It is far from that Singapore will host US combat forces, or even break neutrality by continuing to be a logistics hub, in time of war. The postwar future of interaction with China, and the million plus Chinese in
    Singapore, makes it hard to choose the US side. Choosing the Chinese side is equally hard, therefore the most likely option is strict neutrality. Singapore buys US weapons, but after the war if these are cut off, it can always go for European and Israeli suppliers.
    Tomahawk says:
    January 22, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    When you see wut SG build something you need to think of many angles…for example roads and highway. Even the location of buildings.Tat how Sg govt operate. Those shelters are part of…XXX and can be use for both offense and defend.Some have certain thing in them. It complicated. Wut enemy will face is not just one or two item and equipmen but a web over web over web of connected defend and offense men and machines in air, land and sea.

    Look at our air defend shield. Aster 30 and 15, Spyder, Bolide, mistral, Igla and soon XXXX. Or our air surveliance..G550 AWAC, aerostat, satellite, UAV..not counting ground and sea radar.

    You might think we over doing it. Some people use kiasu word. For Sg is just abt deterrence and being prepare for worst. And that mean our focus is wide. Remember we r looking at anti balisitc defend..tat not for because region has it. But outside region.

    Because if this shit hit the fan you got no time to debate in parliament wut to do.
    AM says:
    January 22, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    Tomahawk: “my house downstairs has war bunker”

    In Singapore, older government flats have a communal shelter (reinforced concrete) on the ground floor. New ones have it in the flat itself (closet size).

    Will this save lives in war? Considering that Riau or Johor (depending on the enemy) will be quickly occupied and the RSAF will sweep the skies, if it saves lives it must mean the enemy has some serious range ballistic missiles. Anyway, it shows how serious they are about putting defence in the minds of the population.
    stanman says:
    January 22, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Siapa nak jadi ‘Kommando Sampan’?
    azlan says:
    January 22, 2015 at 12:36 pm


    A good book on the subject is “Reasons In Writing” (Ewen Southby Tailyour). The author was an RM amphibious specialist who spend time sailing in the Falklands before the war. He later played a big part planning and advising the landings.

    This is what Julian Thompson said if the author: ” If I was to name one man whose knowledge and expertise was irreplaceable in the planning and the conduct of the amphibious operations I would without hesitation name..”
    azlan says:
    January 22, 2015 at 11:41 am

    We also had a class of locally built (probably the MARA yard) riverine boats. Although armed with GPMGs, original plans called for them to be armed with a 20mm Oerlikon.

    The hardest part of having a Marine unit is not so much training someone to run off the ramp of an LCU or stuff like that but actually getting the men and equipment delivered on time and in the right place in face of whatever obstacles are faced. In our case there will also service issues to sort out as the unit will be an army one but primary responsibility in delivery will be the RMNs. We will also have to have beach masters, coxwains, quartermasters trained to combat load ships, etc. Off course if the unit is mainly to operate by the sea as opposed to bring delivered by sea to shore then things are simplified to a large extent. Then there is the question of whether the unit selected will retain its jump capability; a strong likelihood if it comes from 10 Para.

    The first that comes to my mind when mention is made of non amphibious units being moved around and landed is Japan in WW2. There was an IJN Marine unit but the bulk of “amphibious” ops during the war were done by army units who were packed mostly in destroyers and delivered to shore by small boat (like for the invasion of Malaya). The Falklands also comes to mind; there were Royal Marines at San Carlos but also 2 and 3 Para which deployed by landing craft. We can also mention the Normandy and Gallipoli landings where the majority of troops put ashore were not “marine” units per say.
    Ferret says:
    January 22, 2015 at 11:19 am

    ‘d just like to round up my arguments for an amphibious force if I may. My reasons for choosing the RGK as the basis for the force and using the RM as a model are in the article. Comments about assets and roles are also in the article and won’t be repeated here. Readers may agree or disagree with the contents of the article and that’s fine — indeed that’s the hope.

    The article was instigated by Marhalim’s video of a beach assault conducted by airborne troops. This demo says a few things about force planning of the MAF. Force planning, in the usual sense of the term, takes about 5-7 years to fruition.

    First off, let me get a few things straight: amphibious ops involve all three elements of a force — sea, air and land. Thus they are different from Alphonso de Albuquerque’s assault on Malacca which was a seaborne op. Also, try to get rid of the picture of Normandy from ‘The Longest Day’ out of your minds. Op ‘Overlord/Neptune’ is unlikey to be repeated but a smaller version of ‘Corporate’ could conceivably happen.

    Because of its nature, amphibious ops are usually joint ops and they are the most complex to execute, more so than even airborne ops. They require lots of training not just for the troops but also for higher HQ.

    Amphibious ops have been and, will always, be relevant, more so since the formation of JF HQ — are they just to take care of UN ops and joint training?

    At the strategic/policy level, an amphibious force (all components — sea, air and land) supports Malaysia’s defence policy of ‘defence diplomacy’ and HADR (even though HADR has not been included formally in the MAF’s Roles), and by extension contributes to Malaysia’s ‘Presence’, a concept that’s important in maritime strategy. An amphibiuous force in very flexible and usually self-contained and can rapidly convert from a combat-ready force afloat into one supporting humanitarian missions quickly.

    Here we have to differentiate between sealift capability and amphibious capability. The MAF has no problems with sealift. Not just the RMN, but industry can provide sealift capability. In fact industry can also provide oilers and supply ships. Amphibious ships provide something extra — command & control, organic ship-to-shore capability and base facilities like water, medical suport and maintenance.

    At the operational/tactical level, trained amphibious forces provide flexibility to the commander — around 80% of Malaysia ends at the sea and a significant part of Malaysia’s extractive resources are at sea.

    Every state in Malaysia has a river and a river forms a natural border in the north-east of peninsular Malaysia. Riverine patrols are part and parcel of an amphibious unit’s role, though it must be said that line infantry can also fulfil the role, an extension of river crossing capability.

    Planning an amphibious operation involves a steep learning curve — not just for the men, but more so for the commanders. In the Falklands conflict, the British were lucky and could readily tap senior Royal Marines/Royal Navy commanders to plan and lead the task force. These were men who spent their careers in an amphibious environment. To say that one specialised unit could be turned into another specialised one — an amphibious one at that — and be ably led in the blink of an eye betrays lack of understanding of amphibious operations.

    It is true that units have a flexibilty that allows them to jump into and out of boats and thus constitute an ‘amphibious force’. The same thing applies for air assault & landing (parachute training takes a bit longer). The crucial question is, of course, are they readied for the job from the commander right down to the last soldier.
    nimitz says:
    January 22, 2015 at 1:08 am

    Landing crafts of MAF, a pity not even one was preserved or exhibited as museum piece. Saw 1 LCU@LCM in a movie (the young Hashim Hussein was in as one of the real character himself), and pics of LCA&LCI, Australia-made, based at former KD Sri Rejang (thanks to blogger utohpaloi ex-RMN)

    Yes parachute & mechanised unit is unique in how they go into combat and fight. They could be involved in amphib ops as long as the amphib ships are available. There is long list of amphib ops which was sucessfully executed not by a marine force. No amphib delivery assets, no amphib ops.

    In Malaysia context, the lacking is not on the manpower or skills, but more on delivery assets; amphib ships,landing crafts,hovercrafts,sea-borne helis. I believe RMN put up a need of 4 MRSS, and that number “4” is significant. If a MRSS carrying capacity is a battalion, then 4 equals a brigade.

    What is the training course for qualification of amphib-operation-capable? Is it “Flying Fish”? Never heard of it. Knew about jump-qualification “Para-Wings”. Its good to have men trained & qualified as a marine, but since history had shown that a conventional amphib ops can be done without a marine outfit, those BIS can remain BIS but it has the appropriate exposure on how to go into combat from a boat. Last year Army deployed normal line infantry formation to train for limited amphib ops with USMC in ESSZone. Do the same thing (Army learn & experience to deploy from shore-to-ship-to-shore, let Navy worry on how to get Army in and out of their domain,like what Air Force is doing with paratroops) again & again then MAF will have brigade-strength force that know how to fight from the sea.

    IMHO the Army brigade and KD Sri Sandakan in ESSZONE should be prioritized to train together for amphib ops.
    azlan says:
    January 21, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    Thank you for the explanation. Had no idea that Hashim was also “Jack Palance” 🙂 I believe the Lundu crash also killed the son of Osman Jiwa. He was a RMR battalion CO at the time of his death.


    Yes the RMN should be the sole operator and have full operational control of any delivery assets. Up to the 1980’s the army operated a number of landing craft. I believe these were originally given by Australia in the 1960’s, together with the RMN riverine craft operated in RASCOM.

    nimitz says:
    January 21, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Ambalat, a sea area between Sabah & Kalimantan, offshore Sebatik Island (the other island that shared land border with Indonesia is Borneo Island) where the maritime border is not clearly defined, and if I’m not mistaken, the area was an O&G block codename Ambalat. Is it Petronas who create and named the block?

    And also waters around Pedra Blaca & South Ledge is not clearly defined in whose territory, correct?

    In South China Sea, overlapping claims Malaysia have with Brunei remains, although Limbang issue is resolved.

    On the issue of landing crafts, if it is bought together with amphib ships which the crafts are part of the ship’s equipment, Navy must be its operator.
    azlan says:
    January 21, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    P.S. Hasbullah Yusof (Bond).
    azlan says:
    January 21, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    Thanks Marhalim.

    Ferret mentioned an officer with a Hollywood/movie star nickname, I believe it was “Bond’ and I know who it is but I forgot the name. He was a Gerak Khas CO and before that head of PULAPAK. The former army chief, who was the first 10 Para Brigade CO, was Hashim Hussein.

    The movie star name is for Jen Hashim, universally known as Jack Palance. Bond was the nickname of Brig Hasbullah Yusuf, who was killed in the Nuri crash in Lundu, Sarawak, in Dec, 1989. Some people speculated that if the Brig had not died then he would have become a PAT, his career progression mirrored Jen Borhan as the CO of GGK, Pulpak and 21st Commando. Jen Borhan is the first and only commando who became the Army and PAT. Borhan was a RMR officer first of course.
    azlan says:
    January 21, 2015 at 2:29 pm


    Yes the first brigade CO was previously the first MALBATT CO and later army chief and PKR candidate for JB. He came out with a book on MALBATT in the 1990s – ” Malaysian Tigers in Bosnia”. I’m interested in finding out the names of the first battalion COs.

    No I was not testing for height, I really wanted to know.

    9th RMR first CO as a Para battalion was Lt Kol Zulkifeli Mohd Zin who is now the PAT.
    Ferret says:
    January 21, 2015 at 9:45 am


    “Had no idea the first battalion COs of 10 PARA were Gerak Khas. Do you know their names?”

    To borrow a Para phrase, “Are you testing for height”?

    I didn’t say “first”, I said in “the early days”. But since you ask, IIRC first Cdr 10 Bde was former Force Cdr Malbatt Bosnia (nicknamed after a Hollywood movie star) & later 4 Div Cdr & PTD. Para qualified at Malacca DZ, not Kelantan. 2nd or 3rd cdr was Cdo who retired Fd Cdr. CO 9 RMR during and after conversion is now PAT.

    I can give you names but this is a public forum.
    AM says:
    January 21, 2015 at 3:00 am

    What Tomahawk said about paranoia = preserving the ruling party is true.

    I wish to add that all governments, especially bad ones, are self preserving. They act rationally from their perspective to stay in power, even if our perspective differs.

    Firstly, a government spends to keep itself well informed of threats, and where there are external security threats, spends amply in defence- it is not their money after all. An external threat is treated as just another threat to rule. Secondly, if this threat were Singapore, Johore would be a fortress, the economic price be damned. Obviously, neither has happened.

    What has happened is plenty of nationalistic paranoid talk, which is rational from their perspective. Conversely, any loss of our territorial integrity would threaten their legitimacy to rule. Therefore if there was a threat, be assured the government has it covered.
    Tomahawk says:
    January 20, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    Paranoia is like vicious circle. like azlan say all countries are not the same and have different need. If RSAF fly off 30 F16s is that consider show of force? It only ard 1/5 of RSAF combat jet. To RSAF it just an exercise. And SG people are so use to it. Every day I see Apache, F16 and F15 and my house downstairs has war bunker. This is our life. You have yours. But it does not mean we will go to war.

    Always remember. Sg people and My people are one and the same. In fact we are more serumpun with you then Indonesia. We don always see eye to eye but like wut tat Tamby Chik or cheeky fella last time Chief Minister of Melaka say it take two to tango.
    Every time you think we are each other enemy is one more vote to ruling party.
    AM says:
    January 20, 2015 at 8:45 pm


    I would actually like to be in the Golan to watch the next show. Although Syria is in no shape to invade, if ever they tried, Spike, Spice and Merkava are going to leave a burning constellation of de-turreted wrecks on the ground. That would be a sight to behold.
    azlan says:
    January 20, 2015 at 5:54 pm


    One would think that he was describing living in close vicinity to the Korean DMZ or the Golan.

    At the end if the day, we have to focus on acquiring the gear and capabilities we need, rather than basing it in what others are getting or doing. We also have other more vital areas we need to keep watch on (non-state threats, the potential for tensions in the South China Sea, the unresolved Ambalat issue, etc) rather than what neighbours are doing in line with their respective threat perceptions and requirements.
    AM says:
    January 20, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    RedSot: “u guys ar living in your comfort zone up north why not stay in the south for a period n u will agree with me whole heartedly”

    I am curious, have you seen any shows of force or overflights lately? How is it different down there?
    RedSot says:
    January 20, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    I agree n i respect what the owner does but certain things its best not to discuss in the open its not scarcsm im throwing but to remind ourself dont be compancey dont get caught with our pants down be ready and be wary even with our closest neighbour………..
    azlan says:
    January 20, 2015 at 12:21 pm


    I admit I like conspiracy theories, e.g. Hitler never died in 1945, Elvis is still alive, the Yeti exists in the Himalayas, etc, but at the end of the day I try to stick to reality. Off course Marhalim has to exercise control over what is written, if he didn’t and allowed guests to post rubbish such as “why doesn’t the RMN get carriers” or outrageous stuff that can’t be substantiated, this blog would be no better than many others out there.
    RedSot says:
    January 20, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Actually ah azlan i have got tons to spell out to all but too sensitive n got sensored by the owner of the blog these are all evidence….indonesian as i know is preparing herself against its nearest neighbour that indirectly liberatef timor leste…u guys ar living in your comfort zone up north why not stay in the south for a period n u will agree with me whole heartedly before that i same as any of u thing our southern buddy is really a fren in deed but a cloak in a dagger like in macbeth hehehe
    azlan says:
    January 19, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    Given that there is little chance that we will be faced with a scenario that calls for 3 jump battalions to be air dropped (for one we don’t have sufficient airlift) it makes more sense to train 10th Para to do new things in order to be more relevant – it wouldn’t be the first time and from Day One it was intended that the unit be transportable by different means. Having elements of a jump trained unit concentrating on other areas will not be a major problem. Even the various squadrons in Gerak Khas’s 11th Regiment specialise in different roles; similar to the SAS’s air, free fall and mobility troop; and the Parachute Regiment has converted a battalion (either 1 or 3 Para – lazy to check) to do other roles in place of it’s traditional role as a jump unit.

    Apart from being time consuming and creating a whole list of administrative and other issues; converting a whole new brigade and maintaining the capability is a costly exercise and is simply not going to happen. Another problem is that with the budget we have and the size of our army; having several combat units doing different things is a luxury we simply don’t have and from a operational perspective makes little sense. We have to tweak what we currently have to get better results.
    Lee Yoke Meng says:
    January 19, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Well i suppose each type of battallion must have their own specialise role. Infantry for general fighting n boots on the ground. Para for rapid reaction n to support any amphibous operations n a specialised marine unit for heach assaults. Which unit?. Let the commandos, paskal n paskau have 5heir specialised roles. Leave the paras too. Train n convert.a new brigade for the maritime role. I am sure all of you disagree. But these roles are specialised roles. We have sufficient army batralions to convert. This is because we use the brigade system. So we have armoured n mechsnical, para, normal standard i fantry n the marines. Each have their own roles. But their specialisation role is just the method of entry. After the entry all will conyinue to fight as normal infantry. The riverine battalions dont fight as normal infantrys. They will fight from the boats against the enemies. They will provoke n fight enemy but they dont occupy the land
    nalzar73 says:
    January 19, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    Might I remind you all what happened in World War Two. Britsh make Singapore into a fortress but what happened at the end. The Japanese Imperial Army still conquered Tanah Melayu and Singapura (Singapore), We have to rely on ourselves to defend our country. Even if Singapore have strong armed force, what guarantee that it will not be defeated like the British Empire Army. Having a diversified Rapid Reaction Force means we have many ways & options in defending our country. The Special Forces than can do what it specialized to do.
    stanman says:
    January 19, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    Coastal Jaegers in the Swedish model rather than the USMC. They really do need have their own boats for the task, be it CB90s, SURCs etc. Actually rather handy in East Malaysia given the long coastlines and riverine aspects. Of course the Navy is not likely to man lots of small boats if they can avoid it and MMEA is going to have turf issues.
    AM says:
    January 19, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    I would argue against the AAV. The concentration of men and money in a slow and thin skinned vehicle is foolish in the kind of forcible entry operations it was designed for. It is also a weak vehicle on land.

    I suggest something like the fast CB90 which can be used with LPDs from further offshore or independently for coastal operations over moderate distances greater than RHIBs.

    Once a beachhead is secure, conventional vehicles can be landed which are much more effective than the AAV.
    azlan says:
    January 19, 2015 at 1:34 pm


    Interesting. Had no idea the first battalion COs of 10 PARA were Gerak Khas. Do you know their names? The first CO of 10 PARA was off course the first MALBATT CO and later army chief and PKR candidate for JB, but I don’t know if he had a Gerak Khas background. 12th Regiment was similar to 11th in terms of roles (our SAS equivalent) but was reportedly stood down due to a lack of manpower. One of the first detailed accounts of the unit in English was Ken Conboy’s “South East Asian Special Forces”. The author told me that his info was obtained from the defence attache at our embassy in Washington.
    Rokuth says:
    January 19, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Perhaps if they changed Para “Wings” badge to that of a “Flying Fish” badge, it will adequately convey the amphibious role of the Para battalion…

    The Para badge is already earned. Just need another badge.
    azlan says:
    January 19, 2015 at 10:39 am


    I stand by what I said, about how we probably welcome a strong SAF as a counter against Indonesia. If you actually have anything to say, beyond childish sarcasm, I would be interested to hear it.


    I would argue that the main utility of LSTs for many if our neighbours would be disaster relief and fulfilling lift obligations, rather than supporting amphibious ops. We might have the least “capable” sea lift in the region but we can argue that Indonesia (the largest archipelago) and the Philippines (a disaster prone nation whose sea present lift assets are more than 50 years old) have a more pressing need to focus on this area due to their requirements. As for using RHIBs and assault boats, if the requirement calls for moving small groups of men in a low threat environment, then RHIBs would be more practical than AAVs or BMPs; all depends on the actual requirement doesn’t it?
    kerberosWXIV says:
    January 19, 2015 at 3:15 am

    I might be wrong but shouldn’t the intelligence, border patrol and maritime surveillance be of priority to prevent something like the embarrassing LD incident, instead of a amphibious force which primarily remain reactionary in the events like this. Instead of a dedicated marines, it might be make more sense to strengthen special forces units, seeing that Malaysia is more likely to be engaged in brief, intense assault against small group of relatively lightly-armed aggressors than in large scale, extended amphibious operation/ force projection to distant shores.

    By their nature, SF units are not easy to expand especially for a small country like us. I believed we have enough SF troops to deal with the LD kind incident. The issue is when such an overwhelming force be unleashed to prevent or deal with such a situation. We have good intelligence that the remnants of the Sulu Army is in Tawi-Tawi but we have yet to do anything about it.
    RedSot says:
    January 19, 2015 at 12:43 am

    please lah pple why waste money on defence….we can always rely on our southern neighbour….because most of malaysian politician welcome a strong SAF…
    AM says:
    January 18, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    For airborne or amphibious operations, especially large ones, to succeed, it is necessary to have control of the surrounding air and sea space. Without the tools to support this (and all your other obligations) don’t dream of it.

    Developing concepts is fine, but don’t go too far without getting these tools first, especially since they have 101 other uses.
    nimitz says:
    January 18, 2015 at 10:53 pm


    We learned from history, but do we act upon what we learned? Look around, we learned then why no action to rectify the same ol mistakes? The tidak apa mindset.
    azlan says:
    January 18, 2015 at 10:46 pm


    Unless or until something happens to drastically change the security status quo, defence will not be a priority and neither the government or opposition will make a serious effort as spending on defence does not gain votes. A lot of Malaysians would actually say that the defence budget should be reduced further.

    I wouldn’t say that 10 Para is under equipped, just that certain gear the unit has long been asking for has not been granted – one can argue that both are the same thing! And to think that original planning in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s called for a division size jump unit – the 11th Strategic Division. Plans to raise a Marine unit were first heard of several years ago but gained momentum after Lahad Dato.
    nimitz says:
    January 18, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    Indonesia have invested into amphib ships (Makassars & new local-produced LST), landing crafts and AAVs (russian vehicles). IMHO TNI is confident to conduct an amphib ops in their own homeground. TNI amphib task force also comes with a hospital ship, wow.

    Then the Phillipines, two SSV is on their way to its home waters before 2020, while PMC in process of getting new AAVs.

    Singapore have the Endurances and now looking for a bigger home grown amphib ships.

    Thailand Marines can hit a beach with its Endurance & LSTs. Vietnam invested into new landing ships & crafts so as to able better support its forces on the islands it owns.

    Malaysia have its amphib fleet reduced with the loss of LSTs, leaving MPCSS which is so “multi-tasking capable” but without AAV, LCU,medium lift seaborne heli, the best it can do amphib ops by deploying men using assault boats and RHIBs.

    Regionally, MAF amphib fleet is the least capable. Work on getting better amphib asset, if not, we will see govt have to charter merchant ships to bring the forces designated to secure a beach head.
    azlan says:
    January 18, 2015 at 10:09 pm


    To answer your question –

    When talking about amphibious ops a a Malaysian unit would conduct, many are assuming it would conduct similar ops to other foreign units. This ignores the fact that we have different requirements, in that we won’t have to go far to get to a hot spot and that the hot spot will most likely be on our territory or we’ll within our backyard. Given our requirements, in addition to being trained to conduct amphibious landings, the unit would also operate on land along coastal belts and do things such as garrisoning the Spratlys (this would enable PASKAL to concentrate on other things and would be akin to what Taiwanese and Turk marines do in the Taiwan Straits and Aegean). Which is precisely why I mentioned Marine units of certain countries which do not necessarily spend most of the time doing dedicated amphibious ops, the kind that first comes to mind when the subject is mentioned (mistake on my part to mention “amphibious types of ops’). For many countries, marine units (despite the “marine” designation) can be more accurately described as elite quick reaction units, which perform roles that other (more conventional) units can perform – I gave the RTN’s Marine Corps as an example. Yes it’s certainly trained to be deployed by sea, to conduct forced beach landings and to be self-supporting for limited periods but it’s main AOR has traditionally been a long the Cambodian border.

    As I explained, the fact that 10th Para has more organic assets and thus is more suitable for being self-supporting, compared to Gerak Khas (which with the exception of 11th Regiment, mostly comprises of 2 light commando battalions specialising in recce and behind the lines ops), would make more sense if an existing unit within 10th Para was converted into a “marine unit” – the British army has done something similar with converting one if it’s Para battalions into a special forces type unit. We can off course argue that in our context that there is little need to maintain 3 Para battalions and because we are a littoral nation, one of the battalions should be converted.

    Off course there is a difference between a “quick reaction force”, “airborne unit” and an “amphibious unit” but there are no set rules and a dedicated amphibious unit can also be a quick reaction force – all depends on the assigned role and one’s requirement. Yes, combat jumps (as I previously mentioned) are rare these days but (as you’re aware) deploying by parachute (despite associated risks) remains a fast and practical mode of deploying troops should a requirement arise. Whether or not armies would actually take the risk of deploying jumps units behind enemy lines these days is a matter of debate – it is telling that there have been very few combat jumps undertaken in recent history. A problem faced is that raising jumps units is not only costly and time consuming but maintaining the capability diverts resources from other areas.
    nimitz says:
    January 18, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    MAF have manpower (special forces & RDF) who have the know how on amphibious ops, what is lacking is the amphibious ships, landing crafts, sea-borne helicopters, combat engineers.

    Looking back into the past, IJA conducted amphib ops using normal infantry forces, so does the USA in Aleutians. The big enabler is those amphib ships&crafts. Inchon was taken after reactivation of mothballed amphib ships of WWII.

    Lahad Datu is a sucess as additional forces came in by air. But luckily have enough time to deploy from the nearest airports. If only at that time RMN have been operating a more capable amphib asset, maybe it can put to sea at least 2 infantry battalions complete with supporting elements in a short notice then standby just within sight of the beach.

    Someone landed on one of our island (pangkor,langkawi,tioman,labuan etc) & to retake it, 3 ways to come in; by air, by sea surface, by submarine. But follow-on forces have to come in by sea surface. This comes back to the point; the need for a capable amphib assets.
    ghostrider says:
    January 18, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    So azlan,

    even after 20 yrs, our best brigade is under equip : (.

    The main issue is “no focus, no priority n no urgency = no fund for our Defence.

    sad, i wish, no i hope we can demand for the next GE all the party who participate must come out with their plan for the safety n security of our country, for many others, this is the only country i called home, it just right to have someone or grp entrusted of our well being to make sure Security is one of main priority not by the way thing.

    Ok back to marines or amphibious unit, i concur with ferret that i confuse between QRF and amphibious forces.

    What i believe is , to have and to keep the peace , we must prepare for war. We can learn from history.
    Ferret says:
    January 18, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    There’s a difference between a quick reaction force, airborne forces and amphibious forces. Many people have confused the three and wrongly conflate them into one.

    In the grand scheme of things, both airborne and amphibious ops — and by extension airborne and amphibious forces — have a place.

    A QRF means simply that: a force that can react and be deployed quickly. As speed is of the essence, they usually choose to travel by air and then may jump out of planes or be landed by aircraft (fixed wing or rotary) or both (parachute + air assault or, if someone is a stickler for terms, parachute + airlanding + air assault). It so happens in MAF’s case that the unit is a parachute bde (easier to convert and takes less time than Cdo training). But QRF may also be landed by watercraft or simply drive to a trouble spot.

    QRF may be airborne, SF or line infantry. But the article is not discussing QRF; it’s discussing amphibious forces, which of course may also make up a QRF.

    Airborne operations are a specialty by itself, as are amphibious operations. Airborne forces have missions some of which are similar to those of amphibious forces (please read Para 1 of article), the difference being that airborne can penetrate deep behind enemy lines. The classic use of airborne forces is in the coup-de-main operation ie to capture a bridge, enemy leader, airhead, etc. Like I said, ‘Flexibility’ is a Principle of War but I don’t think these two specialities can be handled by a single formation because of the complexity of both type of ops.

    Both airborne and amphibious ops usually operate as part of a bigger plan and need follow-on forces.

    Just like airborne forces, amphibious forces need time to train and form before they can become operational. Just like 10 Bde, a new amphibious force will also need to add supporting arms to the basic infantry unit/s. 10 Bde started with only parachute infantry as its component units.

    Some have difficulty imagining the use of amphibious forces during the current situation. The same can be said for airborne forces (in its designated role ie executing mass parachute drops). AFAIK 10 Bde has not executed a real combat jump. In its QRF (vs its airborne) role, 10 Bde has either been transported by ship or landed in a civilian airport. No work for the riggers required. Purely airborne ops are far and wide nowadays. Again, please read Para 1.

    Op Fajar was an amphibious op but for argument’s sake, lets suppose that someone grabbed one of our oilrigs or landed on one of our islands (say in the Sulu sea) and proclaimed that as their ‘sultanate’. Or the enemy has taken taking Layang-Layang with its airstrip. What would be the most suitable op to neutralise the situation in this case? Airborne or amphibious? If you say these are improbable scenarios, you are probably correct but was Lahad Datu predicted?
    Ferret says:
    January 18, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    Before I go further, a bit of history.

    GGK once had 2 regts designated as ‘Para-Komando’; 11 Regt, and at one time 12 Regt, remained RGK. This changed when 10 Para, all trained by RGK, was formed. 8 Rgr, first unit to convert, had a Cdo offr as CO in early days, and 10 Bde was commanded by a Cdo offr, with another Cdo offr as deputy.


    Can you please clarify a few things (from your first comment):

    1. “limited force projection role in a littoral environment (as opposed to dedicated amphibious ops per say)”

    What do you mean? Are they different?

    2. “I would think that the unit most suitable for amphibious types roles would be 10th Para Brigade”

    Reread your statement at No 1. Are amphibious *ops* different from different from amphibious *types* of ops?
    azlan says:
    January 18, 2015 at 6:54 pm


    If the unit is not going to be deployed beyond our borders and if we are not going to conduct large scale landings on a hostile shore hundreds of miles from the nearest base (extremely unlikely); the lack of sea lift is not too much of a concern. Why would it? The main stomping ground of such a unit would be on or in close vicinity to our shores. Also, if hostile forces land in Sabah and the unit was based in Semenanjung, it would be faster to fly elements in and have the heavy stuff (if at all needed) moved by sea with existing assets.

    Yes, if the unit is to be an army one (which is the case), by logic we should use an existing unit rather than raise a new one.
    azlan says:
    January 18, 2015 at 6:35 pm


    Almost twenty years after it was declared operational, 10th Para still is not fully equipped for the roles it was intended to perform. How on earth do you propose setting up a 2nd rapid reaction brigade without the needed funding? If military planners don’t have a clear idea (I’m not saying they don’t) as to what this new unit is intended to perform and if adequate funding us not there, we will be giving ourselves a “bloody nose” instead of potential opponents……

    As Marhalim is fond of saying: “show me the money” fjrst!
    … says:
    January 18, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    @ azlan

    If a “marine” unit principal task is rapid response/fast reaction and amphibious landings although trained for is not its primary task, then our current pasukan aturgerak cepat, the 10 brigade para is more than adequate for such tasks.

    IMO possible scenario for a forced amphibious landing for a malaysian unit is against a non state actor on malaysian soil, or rapid deployment of a peacekeeping force to a beach head on the request of a friendly government.

    Anyhow in our current situation to retrain a specific amphibious unit should not be a concern, it is the lack of amphibious ships and enough helicopters to support such amphibious landings.

    @ marhalim

    IMO for now rather than having to divert funds and attention to retrain and reequip another brigade with knowledge and equipment (armor/artillery/logistics/aviation unit) for an amphibious misson it is better for the army to concentrate and properly build up an integrated mechanised division 1st. Maintaining the amphibious skill set with 10 para and getting proper ships for the task as affordable as possible and as soon as possible should be enough for now.

    I am not saying amphibious tasking is a priority. Azlan asked my opinion on the issue at hand and I answered.
    ghostrider says:
    January 18, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    We need to have the 2nd Rapid Reaction Brigade similar function and fully equip like 10bgd para to ensure we have the tenacity and capability to repel or at least hold our ground for any incursion or make the other state /or non state actor to think twice or thrice before trying anything to us. Remember “Prevention always better than cure” if it happen its already happen, already Tooo late, so if there is the need for a Marine style unit, so be it, what sort of development program if our country sovereign seems an easy to overcome by the interested party, “we give them bloody nose” if they try.
    azlan says:
    January 18, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    There is also no possibility of defending the reefs 🙂 With the exception of Layang-Layang the rest are simply too small. Not to mention the fact that an opponent does not have to physically occupy the reefs; only to control the air space and waters around the reefs to make things difficult for us. Totally agree with what you propose.
    azlan says:
    January 18, 2015 at 3:20 pm


    There is or was an Italian army unit that was trained to operate in swamps and lakes. If I recall correctly, it’s called ‘Lagunari”.


    If you don’t mind, I would be interested to hear your views on the possible roles a Malaysian Marine unit would be called to perform and what existing unit would best suit the role. By logic and in a perfect world, the RMN would get the go ahead to raise a battalion sized formation, to amongst other things, garrison the Spratlys and have a amphibious (albeit limited) capability, but this off course will be resisted by the army.

    Personally I believe the Army brigade should first be transformed into a complete fighting unit ie with armor, artillery, logistics and aviation unit, ala USMC MEU or the British new multi-role brigades. Training an amphibious combat team within the new brigade will then be elementary. I do not think it is necessary to raise a marine brigade per se. There is no need to defend the reefs by actually landing troops there we should rely on air and naval assets instead.
    azlan says:
    January 18, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    The simultaneous use of amphibious landings and para drops are dependent on the circumstances but in this day and age, para drops rarely happen – recent exceptions to this rule would include the French drop in Mali and the 2001 drop by U.S. Rangers on the compound in Kandahar that was thought to house Mullah Omar. Thanks to higher capacity helicopters, most armies have focused on air mobile formations rather than classic air dropped units. I’m not saying that we don’t need jump qualified units; we do but despite limitations, there are often more practical and safer ways to deploy sizeable numbers of troops than by parachute.

    The reason I mentioned Thai, Philippines and Indonesian units is because they share more similarities in terms of roles (compared to larger more established units with a global tasking) in that although all are trained to perform classic style amphibious ops, are mainly intended to serve as rapid response/fast reaction units in a coastal or littoral environment. In the case of the RTN’s Marine Corps (despite its amphibious training) its main AOR has traditionally been along the Cambodian border.

    In our context, I find it hard to imagine a scenario in which a “marine” unit would have to land on a hostile shore or a scenario in which we would have to rapidly land heavy gear on a beach to support an ongoing operation. Also, a Malaysian Marine unit would most likely be based in Sabah and could moved to the coastal belt or the Spratlys by air (no heavy equipment needed as most of our reefs are small) or road.
    nalzar73 says:
    January 18, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    We shuold had by now a brigade of marine as a support to our army. This should be rapid, flexible and enough power to protect our terriotory and interest. Our country are seperated in two, it’s better we have not only the 10th Para but another fast response brigade. If anybody complaining about no money, that is not accepted. We’re a country, and the safety and protection of our fellow citizen is the utmost important. Lets start small like the UK Royal Marine. Gain knowledged, experience, expertise, quality and finesee before going bigger when the need arise. Maybe we can learn something from the history of Malacca Sultanates Empire on how their pahlawan2 enlarged and enforce the Sultanates rule.
    … says:
    January 18, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    To me there is a difference between:

    – “marine” type amphibious unit

    – Riverine operations unit.

    “marine” type amphibious unit is a conventional force with soldiers, apc, ifv, tanks, artilleries moved by sea to conduct amphibious landings on a beach, then continue to fight basically on land as per normal army. The advantage of amphibious landing versus air movement is more heavier equipments could be brought in in the 1st place. It is also useful in an area where the airport/suitable landing area is denied by hostile forces. But as in any modern warfare, both paradrops and amphibious landing is usually needed (Normandy comes to mind).

    -Riverine units are soldiers who are trained to fight in littoral areas, rivers, lakes, coastal areas and around islands on small heavily armed boats. The littorals are their operational area, patrolling, deploying almost exclusively on boats. Some units that comes to mind is the us navy RIVRON units and sweedish navy Kustjägarna. The mission around lahad datu is a classic riverine operation and more specific training, operational doctrines should be undertaken for this type of operation, and this focus shold be seperate from the amphibious marine type operations as per this article suggests.
    azlan says:
    January 18, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    On Gerak Khas, initial selection and various Commando courses were initially done by the RM but the RM training team was around for only a short period and the unit that played a big part influencing Gerak Khas was actually the TNI-AD’s KOPASANDRA (wrong spelling but what would later become KOPASSUS). In his book Linus Lunsong (whom I had the privilege to correspond with as part of some research) describes his time at Batu Djajar with the Indonesians. The training was physically and mentally tough (to be expected) but unlike that provided by the RM, was brutal.

    At a later date, help in creating Gerak Khas’s Amphibious Wing was provided by the Australian SAS (near Perth) and also of course the RM (at Poole). Judging by the Majalah Tiga documentaries (the one in the 1980’s and the recent one) Gerak Khas’s selection process (unsurprisingly) has a strong Indonesian influence.
    nimitz says:
    January 18, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    Indonesian & Philippines marines is an entity to itself, have its own support elements,operates the signature amphib vehicle the AAV,work with Navy for travelling at seas. It smells & looks like USMC. MAF can copy it if the money is there.
    azlan says:
    January 18, 2015 at 10:59 am

    The problem is not so much about the present lack of a sea-lift capability but the fact that none of us has a clear idea as to what a unit trained for such ops is intended to do in our scheme of things, apart from its general role of force projection in a littoral environment. Countries like Uncle Sam France and Britain need LPDs and a fleet support train to deploy and support units which have a global tasking. In Australia’s case, getting to its most likely area of operations, this region, takes at least a week from Australia.

    In our case, depending on the circumstances but based on the fact we don’t have a need to operate far beyond our territory (i.e. expeditionary role), little chance that we’ll actually be required to land on hostile land and that the unit will not have much “heavy” equipment; at times it will faster and more practical to deploy by air. A marine type unit may be trained to operate in a littoral environment but whether it actually has to be deployed and re-supplied by sea is a different matter all together. A “marine” unit could mean one thing for some countries and a slightly different thing to others; in our case a “marine” unit would share similarities with similar Thai, Philippines, Indonesia and Turk units.
    nimitz says:
    January 18, 2015 at 10:29 am

    Never thought GGK is very deep in amphibiousity. This means MAF have the expertise & equipment to do amphib ops in limited scale. What is still missing is amphib ships better than the Mahawangsa-class.
    This article points out that roots of amphib in Malaysia came from the UK but its influence is somewhat shaken by the USA. RM & SAS style is “think small & cheap” but USMC & SEAL is “think big & money is not a problem”. The look of amphib forces in MAF shown to me is a confused one. An airborne outfit jumping out not from an airplane but a assault boat to storm a beach.

    As we know that money is the big issue in defense matters over here, let paratroops continue on with “jumping out into the skies” while enabling 3 battalion of BIS with amphib means & ways. With this said, looking forward to 3 BIM (batalion infantri marin).
    … says:
    January 18, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Malaysian amphibious force…

    IMO 10 para is currently the division with the most frequent training with the us marines in amphibious operations.

    What could be done is to rotate amphibious tasking/readiness annually between the 3 battalions in 10 para. 1 battalion to be on standby to be deployed by amphibious ships in 48hrs. Pre-positioned equipments in Lumut means that when the call to deploy is given, only thing to do is to transfer the soldiers to Lumut and they are good to go.

    But… Problem is right now, where are the ships?


    Another country that we could emulate or learn from is Australia. They are currently building up their amphibious capability by getting 2 LHD and 1 LPD ships. Interestingly the designated amphibious unit in the Australian army is 2nd Royal Australian Regiment, which is a battalion sized formation.


    Another thing is that riverine operations (coastal/island operations included) should also be given more focus (in tactics/doctrine wise) especially with an enduring operations in lahad datu. The hardware (cb90/RHIBs) and soldiers are there, but how to optimise their operations, can the area be more secure and safe with the employment of current assets there?


    More research papers by UPNM, MINDEF, anyone basically on what is the best options for amphibious operations in malaysia.

    azlan says:
    January 18, 2015 at 9:21 am

    There is a strong need for a unit trained to perform a limited force projection role in a littoral environment (as opposed to dedicated amphibious ops per say), no doubt there, but first we really have to ask ourselves: in times of conflict or in periods of tension, what specific type roles do we expect this unit to perform and what kind of threats are we likely to face. To me, who we choose to model the unit on us secondary; of far more importance is how we enable or tweek the unit to suit our unique requirements; like how countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey and Greece have done with their marine type units.

    In our case, we are unlikely to find ourselves in a position where would have to conduct landings on hostile land; the Spratlys comes to mind but with the exception of Layang-Layang, the reefs/atolls we occupy are no larger than a few basketball courts (to quote a former CO of one of the reefs) and the main concern in this scenario would be maintaining the SLOC to our possessions in the Spratlys and keeping our troops already there supplied; rather than the need to physically re-take them from hostile forces; who BTW will mainly need to control the air and sea around the reefs; to deny them to us.

    I would think that the unit most suitable for amphibious types roles would be 10th Para Brigade, simply because it has better organic supporting assets. Any reason why I would pick this unit is because I feel that in our scheme of things, there is a higher chance of this unit being deployed by sea, land or by air to a LZ, rather than by parachute to a DZ. Others armies with jump trained units have found that the availability of fix wing and rotary transport has done away with the need for units to be deployed into a hot spot by parachute – this is not to say that there is no need for jump trained units but that there are more practical and safer ways of rapidly deploying a unit. Back to 10th Para, we need to bear in mind that giving it a jump role was a means to rapidly deploy the unit rather than having it jump over a hot DZ (something no one would do in this day and age). In short, it’s designation aside, we need to improve on our ability to rapidly deploy the unit by other means apart from parachute, in line with our threat perceptions and requirements.

    Something else that needs to emphasised is that when talking about “amphibious ops’ per say, the hardest and trickiest part is coordinating all the assets needed for such operations and actually getting the troops there, on time and with the gear and support they need, in the face of resistance, weather and other obstacles.

    Once on land, “marines” would fight as other units. Keeping them adequate supplied off course is another headache but off course this would depend on the operational circumstances. The good thing going for us is that we won’t have to deploy the unit over “long” distances, in that we don’t have a global tasking and that if ever the unit is deployed for real, it will be in our backyard.

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