(Now it is a whole different ball game in Lahad Datu once the military steps in with its might with surgical air strike and armoured infantry mopping and search exercise – Photo sources: the Net)
The number of our fallen heroes went up to 8 before the Government decided to end their passive approach to the whole situation and came to their senses and finally brought in the might of our trained military power as how it should have been probably after the first 24 hours deadline to surrender unconditionally.
The fact that the Government pushed the military to be second liner to the situation perhaps caused more confusion and suspicion (one that Tian Chua accidentally got entangled for the wrong reasons when he questioned the passive action by the Government) and even ex-military men started to ask questions. First from Capt (Rtd) Hussaini Abdul Karim (http://hak55.blogspot.com/):-
News photographs show some troops in bullet-proof vests but no helmets; others in T-shirts and “soft” headgear; and many not wearing bullet-proof vests. This is wrong. However, soldiers guarding the area were wearing helmets and bullet-proof vests. There didn’t seem to be any trenches or bunkers with sandbags to protect troops keeping watch.
Some of the militants have SLRs using 7.62 mm bullets and 81mm mortars. These are deadly. A hit on the arm from as far as 600m, because of its sheer power, can kill. This is unlike the bullets used by our troops which are the 5.56 mm type where sometimes even a direct hit to the body may only injure and is not strong enough to kill. If I were the commander, I wouldn’t want to position my men anywhere nearer than 200m of the enemy.
Malaysian troops, police and the army, with our strength and superiority in numbers, equipment and logistics support, should be fully ready. Strafing from the air, harassing fire using high explosive ammunition from mortars, the light and even the medium guns of the artillery regiment should have been carried out. Tanks should have been deployed.
And another from Major (Rtd) D.Swami (http://7rangers.blogspot.com/)
We should have struck using the Malaysian Armed Forces with great audacity and at will to bring terror into the hearts of these Sulu pirates who think themselves hardy warriors.
The Police did not have the assets to destroy them. Those Sulu pirates were with automatic weapons and mortars, which killed two of our people. They had frigging mortars, for f***sake!! Najib and company were handling these terrorists with kid gloves, using the Police who are trained to handle internal security situations like the Bersih or Hindraf rally.
The Police are not trained to launch attacks on enemy locations, where the enemy fires back. It is not a Bersih rally. They do not have Mortars, Artillery, Infantry Fighting Vehicles or Special Forces skilled in Reconnaissance, Air Force and Navy. One of the principles of attack is, “the momentum of the attack must be maintained”. There will be more casualties as they did not observe this principle. I doubt the Police have any inkling of that. I guess more Policeman have to die before the sheep calls in the Military.
The Military knows that. It should be their job, as it is an external threat, they are equipped and trained for this. I am sure any soldier worth his salt is raring to go. This should be handled by the 5th Brigade Commander without sparing all the niceties. In fact there is a Tank Regiment in Kota Belud, that would make it all the more easier, minimizing the Malaysian casualties and maximizing casualties amongst the Sulu pirates. We can even use the FGA’s located in Labuan. A couple of sorties with them, followed by a mortar and artillery barrage, would be nice. After which the Infantry mounted in Stormers, accompanied by tanks can finish the job. We should use these assets which are there, instead of throwing away the lives of our brave Malaysian men.
But thankfully all that nonsense that went on for 3-odd weeks (which was way too long to be dealing with a foreign force claiming a stake of the country and asking everyone to buzz off) ended when Najib called in the military and told the intruders that there is only one way out for them – unconditional surrender.
First there was the surgical bombing using laser guided bombs using the F/A 18 jet fighters and BAe 200 Hawks and then pounding of the area with artillery to clear the area for the police and the armed forces to move in and do their mopping and search mission and with that managed to stop further casualties and in the same process managed to kill off up to 52 of the armed intruders and x number of arrested/caught. More battalions were moved up to Sabah and the naval blockade tighten to prevent more intrusion from taking place. And more recently Najib also issued orders the set up of special security areas to maintain high military presence – it makes a lot of sense, we do not want another wave of intrusion taking place soon after we had finished with the clean up of the current intrusion.
The fact that we are getting more of the intruders dead or caught whilst at the same time suffering no causalities of our own simply points that we are doing the right thing at the moment. But there is still room for improvement and lesson to be learned when it comes to dealing with foreign armed intrusion.
The obvious one would be the role of the military and the police in dealing with such armed intrusion? Semantics aside (one may argue that it is still considered as an internal affair and that is why we have the police in the lead), we would not seem a positive improvement to the armed intrusion stand-off if the military (with all due respect to the brave & skilled police commandos who had endangered themselves for the country and still fighting in the front-line) have not move in with their powerful assets in land, sky and sea. It is clear that there is a confusion as who to take the lead when such incidents happened (which may have explained the 3 weeks delay nonsense) – on whether the Home Ministry or the Defence Ministry should take charge.
In this instance, the answer is crystal clear – the police may come in to cordon the area and negotiate with the intruders to surrender themselves but once the order has been issued to wipe the Sulu terrorists, they should have fallen back and leave the military to do their job. Press releases thereafter should only come from the Chief of the Armed Forces, Gen Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin or in some instances from the Defence Minister or the Prime Minister. The police will still have vital role to play with maintaining rule of order in other areas (they still have their normal policing work to do), with forensics of the dead bodies and to interrogate & process those who have been caught (and already cleared as not holding any vital information to the on-going military mission) by the military.
It will be even better if politicians with limited knowledge of military tactics and skills stay clear from the on-going military exercise and leave it to the experts to get the job done. This kind of confusion needs to be cleared before we face a similar intrusion in the future (although we hope this would be the last one). The amount of confusion (and unfounded rumours) generated at the first 3 weeks of the intrusion (and no thanks to strict media blackout) is simply astonishing.
Then we have this – one that well observed by Capt (Rtd) Hussaini Abdul Karim above and another by Singaporean former defence correspondent:-
During the three-week long standoff against a force which claims has 200 gunmen and even after blood was shed, Malaysians deployed for security duty do not seem to care much for their personal protection. Body amour is rarely seen.
When worn by some officers, the body amour appears to be of the soft body amour type which is not designed to withstand full metal jacket projectiles discharged from firearms or mortar rounds. Headgear in the form of ballistic helmets is almost never worn. And let’s not even go into protective eye wear like goggles.
The American foot soldier in the Iraq and Afghanistan theatre of war complained the same thing at the initial start of the battle – the lack of body amour when facing a more determined insurgents and when the body counts started to rise, it took some time for the Government to act before the troops on the ground getting the right body armour. Coming back to the scenario in Lahad Datu, due to the media blackout and lack of details on the actual mission on the ground, it is possible that those in the front-line are actually have the right body armor but then if what we see on the news and media is reflective of what is our troops are using to face the heavily armed intruders, we need to revisit this if we are going to face a more sophisticated and trained foreign troops (remember, everyone with military interest in the region is looking at us on our tactics and state of readiness).
And finally there is a small incident of the media in Philippines (quoting their military intelligence) tying the culprits behind the armed intrusion with an opposition party in Malaysia. Utusan and TV3 (given this sweetener) wasted little time and jumped the gun and named Anwar was the one. I don’t think any Malaysian in their right mind (more so a leading politician at the time of general elections) would be dared to do that because it meant high treason and rightfully Anwar have denied the same and is now suing Utusan & TV3 for RM100 million for gross defamation. He should now raise the same concern to the same Philippines media and should demand them to name the opposition politicians. After all, Anwar is the Opposition Leader in the Parliament and any implication of the opposition with the armed intrusion (even if the media there did not name any names) is the last thing that the Pakatan wants at the moment. He should get this thing done and over now instead of just waiting out for the defamation suit trial date which will come over after the general elections.
In the meantime, whilst the rest of us would be looking forward to spend our time with our families on the weekend, our prayers and hopes remains entrenched with our security forces in Sabah to bring the armed intrusion to a swift end and without any casualities.