Lahad Datu Incursion: Our Troops are on the Defensive, Why?

March 4, 2013

Lahad Datu Incursion: Our Troops are on the Defensive, Why?

Hakby Captain Hussaini Abdul Karim (Rtd)*

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 Vat69 Commandodonning 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.

sulu lahad datu soldiersKnowing 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.

Malaysian tankThe 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 Zahid and Hisham10 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

22 thoughts on “Lahad Datu Incursion: Our Troops are on the Defensive, Why?

  1. It is a ragtag army but the soldiers of Sulu know how to fight a guerrilla war and have a cause to defend ; they are willing to put their lives on the line for that cause, and if we are arrogant and showy, as the pictures put up by Dato Din of a VAT69 Police commando and our soldiers suggest, we are going to be losing a lot more personnel as we take them on.

  2. Brotherhood of Islam overrides national security. Difficult to pull the trigger as the enemies are not kafirs or pendatangs. Mahathir’s and Najib’s orders “Take it easy” they are our fellow muslim brethrens.

  3. Like I said, wars and strife are costly. The merchants of death are laughing all the way to the gates of hell (bank) by now as this is the beginning of a very lucrative undertaking.

  4. I was playing golf with a senior police officer from Bukit Aman.He make the same comment on why our V69 commando were not weaing bullet proof vest and not wearing the helmet.
    A shocking comment from rtd army officer..?

  5. The captain makes so much sense. Now does it make you wonder why all the generals with macho moustaches and chests laden with medals and ribbons are not doing what we ordinary guys and gals would expect? Why? Still waiting on the higher up (the one above Najib) to give the OK? Or are they anxious that the beans will start spilling out of their bags when the bullets start to fly?

  6. Anakrakyat, yes it is definitely not easy for the brotherhood of Islam to be killing one another. This is why LKY reasoned that it was not possible to make a Malay a general in the SAF, I think his quote was “it will be difficult for a Singaporean Malay General to order an attack of Muar if needs be” or something to that effect. What the old goat feigned ignorance was a professional soldier will be able to take orders. There is no democracy of freedom of thought or speech in the armed forces. Captain Hussaini Abdul Karim (Rtd) understands this well hence his elaborate mustering of all services of the armed forces,seemingly heavy handed against a armed group of 100 odd men.
    All said and done I pray that this will be settled with the least casualties on either side, after all they are also humans and secondly Muslims.

  7. If Anwar, Hadi or Lim is the PM now, would they be leading Malaysia to war against the Sulu terrorists like what Thatcher did to Argentina ?
    Dato, I only wish we have a Leader now who is not afraid to lose GE13, but to show to the world he is fighting for the nation. I want a decisive leader to tell us how he is going to defeat the enemy and not say the enemies are Muslims so we must be soft to them. Is there a difference between the Sulu terrorist and the participant in Bersih1,2 and 3? I know there is no difference between the Sulu terrorist and our common criminals except that the terrorist is hell-bend on stealing our soil.
    Common reasons have left our leaders for they are only interested in winning GE13. I see the PM campaigning in Malaya when Sabah is being attacked. Should he not be in Sabah as Malaysia’s commander-in-chief. Najib is the biggest letdown in our history including to the legacy of his daddy. I for one do not wish him to be my leader anymore.
    Adieu Sabah I think we may have lost you for good.
    Thank You MM for giving 500,000 ICs to these terrorists for these terrorists will decide the future of Borneo.
    From Sarawak.

  8. Maybe our soldiers do not understand how to use the sophisticated weapons that was purchased by the government in the billions of ringgit. Weapons were purchased without any thought of it being used in an actual war because the leaders were lackadaisical in thinking that Malaysia would never be involved in an actual war. Weapons were simply purchased to line the pockets of politicians and top security officers. That why there was a quandary among the armed forces that there might be no one trained to use such sophisticated weapons. Thus the delay and the deployment of the police instead of the army, the navy and the air forces.

    The intruders on the other hand know how to use their weapons effectively and they are at home in a natural environment that is more familiar with their type of fighting – guerilla warfare. And they have a large pool of their countrymen already rooted in Sabah for support and morale, courtesy of the evil Project IC hatched up by Mahathir.

    Sophisticated weapons are no guarantee to win a war. Witness the defeat of the Americans in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq; the French in Indochina; the British and the Soviet in Afghanistan in spite of superior weapons. Our poor soldiers have been brainwashed by sophistry of greedy politicians and corrupt officers to trust solely on weapon sophistication and less on training.

  9. Hak,
    This is shocking! I mean I understand how nong nong time ago, Chiang Kai Shek’s elite troops ain’t fully as equiped as the Japanese invading army in Shanghai. At least, they stood their ground for 3 months……Hahaha, you know now China, South Korea dislike Japan so much especially when Abe in power

    To set the record straight, Thatcher sent in the armada after Falkland island was conquered unopposed by Argentina. I would rather admire Jim Callaghan instead……He sent in the subs to pre-ampt the stalling of invasion from Argentina. If only Jim Callaghan were Malaysia PM……well

    You are wrong! Melayus in Singapore hold important position. Some are flying the latest fighters. They are tougher than the melayus over here. Perhaps, it’s time to do away with this stupid special position

    What’s the point of sending subs when it can’t sink……Hahahaha

  10. our troops/army is on the defensive as the order from ‘above’ is to treat ’em invaders and killers of our Vat69 commandos, as “fellow muslim brother”…Can duh 1leaders please tell this to the families of our fallen heroes?

  11. I’d like to repeat what I said earlier, with some modifications:

    What are the implications for Sabah politics and Malaysian politics?
    As Clausewitz said “war is the extension of politics by other means”.
    Smart politicians do not go to war without looking at the political implications and political fallout.

    — final MILITARY assault on the intruders would give rise to the nationalistic
    “rally round the flag effect” and increase some degree of (stupid) voter support for
    the kleptocratic UMNO Baru-BN regime
    — But this might raise the ire of the Project IC Filipinos-turned-Malaysians and counter some of the above effect. Likely to increase tension between Malaysians and these “Project IC Malaysians” within Sabah itself
    — This intrusion will embolden those who make claims on Sabah as Philippine territory etc. Already we see some evidence of (stupid) anti-Malaysia nationalism in Philippines newspapers.
    — The incident is making the two cousins look weak and bumbling,
    thus further strengthening the M-M camp within UMNO Baru.
    — The incident is deflecting attention from what is very important i.e.
    the damning revelations of the Sabah RCI on Project IC.
    We should be wondering why some people in Malaysia still consider Dr M
    to be an “elder statesman” with these revelations !

  12. Our MOD have made a wrong purchase. They should have bought UAVs instead of the unsinkable submarines ( see the breached sabah coastline ). The drones can do aerial surveillance on our borders & drones strikes will bring out the intruders from their rabbit holes.
    Listen to the song ” Battle Of New Orleans ” by Johnny Horton

  13. Dear Capt (rtd) Hussaini,if ever the Army is involved in to Lahat datu incident,(which they should have ) they the rules will be different, ( Geneva Convention Blah3),but when the Home Affairs are involve,a different set of rules apply,tis a game of chess of the highest order,timing perfect,Check !!,Scaring the shit out of Sabahans, Check! Now just waiting for the Marshall Law to be implemented,but only in Sabah (that’s why only the Home Ministry is involved ),the deal is,you give out a few lives and I’d give up some,later I’ll settle with you blood money,but make sure you do your best to scare and gunned down or harrassed most Sabahans,so I can declare Marshal Law and Curfew? that way we both win,you’d get money to fight for your autonomous state n I get to rule malaysia 5 more years,kapish!! Oouch !! but true.

  14. Hahaha, this is what’s running in my mind about what happened during the past 20-over days … while our brave policemen and soldiers were asked to hold the intruders at bay, our leaders and their wives were busy transferring their monies into foreign bank accounts and packing up valuables to be shipped out of Malaysia on short notice. Yes, it takes that many days to organise the logistics to leave the country.

  15. The Malaysian Armed Forces have finally demonstrated their prowess and using fighter jets, tanks and artillery they acted to end the standoff after almost two weeks. All the dead from both sides have all been respectfully buried and hopefully, the welfare of their immediate family members that they left behind are taken care of. Those injured are being treated and I hope all parties concerned have learned a valuable lesson from the tragedy. All efforts must now be taken to prevent a repeat of such a tragedy.

    Our Armed Forces have proven their capability once again and I am sure the confidence the people have in them remains unchanged.

    However, our security forces must not rest on their laurels as there is still plenty of unfinished business for them to sort out.

    Their continued presence must still be seen and felt by the people until such time the situation becomes better and the threat is diminished.

    As in any incident that involves two sides, especially those that resulted in the loss of lives, there will always be supporters and dissenters. The authorities must be to handle this tricky situation well.

    Needless to say, the remnants, sympathisers, supporters and followers of the royal army of the Sultanate of Sulu are now spread all over the state with some hiding in states other than Sabah. Many would probably have gone home. The hardcore amongst them may be planning to retaliate to avenge the death of their comrades at the hands of the Malaysian security forces. This cannot be ruled out.

    A proper heart and mind campaign should have already been planned and implemented and the people

    Flushing of illegals should be carried out not just in Sabah but nationwide and those that have committed crimes must be tried and punished.

    The police and the immigration must be strict in carrying out their duties and overall, the security forces, police and the military, must be alert at all times.

    On hindsight, being an optimist, I saw an opportunity in the Lahad Datu standoff. That incident actually provided an opportunity or a window for negotiations to be carried out with the so-called Sulu Sultan to clear once and for all the impasse and their claim on Sabah. I am not too sure if there were any leaders or senior government representative sent to meet with the so-called Sulu Sultan at a neutral or an undisclosed location to negotiate a deal or any deal.

    Nevertheless, our leaders and politicians from both sides of the divide must now be extra sensitive and be more careful when making statements and they must not politicise this whole incident.

    No leaders or politicians should be pointing fingers at anyone, blaming and alleging anyone as the instigator or cause of the incident. Everyone should start closing ranks from now on and contest the general election pride, a competitive spirit and with dignity.

  16. hak55,

    If thats the case then I’m proud of the malaysian military (or rather the top tier politicians) who finally came to their senses to put a stop to this comedy of nightmares.

    I’m still the opinion that this should have been dealt with from day one by the Army to scare off future intruders who might think of coming to Sabah to negotiate with the homeminister and his welcome party.

    For the delay in summoning the help of the Army and for sacrificing the lives of eight malaysians the homeminister and IGP should be made answerable.

  17. reeperbahn,

    Earlier, the Armed Forces Chief was told by someone very powerful to remain silent and only to remain in the background.

    You know, he is on the verge of retiring (with full pension, gratuities, golden handshake, etc. and he doesn’t want to jeopardise that). After GE 13, he will go.

    I agree with you that ‘this should have been dealt with from day one by the Army to scare off future intruders’ and here’s what I said above, “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?”

    And yes, ‘for sacrificing the lives of eight malaysians the homeminister and IGP should be made answerable’.

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