March 4, 2013
Lahad Datu Incursion: Our Troops are on the Defensive, Why?
Based on the reports and images as shown in our mainstream newspapers on the standoff between our troops and the armed Sulu group at Kampong Tanduo, many things seem to be wrong.
Firstly, while there are some members of the troops who were seen to be donning bullet-proof vests, none were wearing helmets. Some were seen wearing long-sleeved tee-shirts and standard ‘soft’ headgear, bandanas and some were not even wearing any headgear at all, especially the members of the VAT 69. Many were also seen not wearing bullet-proof vests. This is most surprising and wrong.
We are not cowboys on horses fighting against Red Indians armed with arrows, spears and axes!
Malaysian soldiers guarding the area were, however, seen wearing helmets and bullet-proof vests.Mind you, unprotected bodies and unprotected heads aren’t bullet proof!
Secondly, there doesn’t seem to be any trenches and bunkers with sandbags to protect troops who are keeping watch and who came into contact with the enemy, resulting in eight already dead. Soldiers taking defensive positions must be dug in, whether in bunkers or trenches. They should not be taking up positions where they can be seen and shot at.
What I wrote above is basic modern warfare tactics, and in the standoff at Semporna, even these basics are not followed. I was a soldier before and I do know something about basic modern warfare tactics.
After 20 days, our troops, based on land and air reconnaissance, would have known every inch of the ground where the militants are stationed. They would know every detail including the number and the various types of weapons the enemy carry and how they are positioned. This would allow our troops to prepare for a proper defence or even an attack.
Knowing that some members of the militant group (the enemy) are armed with SLRs using 7.62mm bullets and 81mm mortars, these can be deadly. Even a hit on the arm from as far as 600m, because of its sheer power, can kill.
This is very much unlike the bullets used by our troops, which are the 5.56mm type where sometimes even a direct hit to the body may only injure and are not strong enough to kill. If I were the commander on the ground, I wouldn’t want to position my troops to be anywhere nearer than 200m of the enemy.
The Malaysian troops, Police and the Army, with our strength and superiority in the number of men, equipment and logistics support, would probably have soldiers from the infantry, mechanised infantry, paratroopers, commandos regiment, artillery regiment, armoured corp, engineers corp, etc. plus the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) and the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), all by now should be fully ready.
Strafing from the air, harassing fire using high explosive (HE) ammunition from mortars, the light and even the medium guns of the artillery regiment should have been carried out already.
The tanks, mortar and the Royal Malaysian Artillery Regiment gun positions, tanks from the Royal Malaysian Armoured Corp and the APCs would already have been deployed and be in place by now, all ready to launch and support an offensive.
At this stage of the operations, our leaders should not start pointing fingers at anyone, they must look for the right, proper and most effective and quickest solution to end the Semporna standoff and also, to minimise lives lost on either side.
Another thing that surprises me is the report on the latest landings of about 10 men in military gear sighted in Kunak, following the killing of six policemen and six intruders in a gun battle at the Simunul water village in Semporna on Saturday night. Why is this happening, aren’t our Intelligence Unit doing their job and don’t they by now already have a full and accurate assessment of the threat?
I thought with the ground, air and sea surveillance, by now, a cordon, maybe up to three layers, would have been organised by both the Police and the military and all the confirmed and possible entrance and exit points would have already been blocked and guarded leaving no chance for the enemy to escape at all.
We have lost eight men, how many more lives must be lost before our troops would launch an attack?For a battle of such a size, which is not a very big battle, losing eight men is already considered a huge loss!
I am surprised that even after 20 days, our troops are still on the defensive. When are they going to launch an attack which by right should have taken place a long time ago already?
* Captain Hussaini Abdul Karim (Rtd) reads The Malaysian Insider