Friday, June 13, 2008


I had just finished reading a book titled ‘In The Line Of Fire’ written by President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan. On page 76 (paperback edition), he wrote the following:

“The outstanding performance of the Pakistan troops under adverse conditions is very well known to the UN. Regrettably, the film Black Hawk Down ignores the role of Pakistan in Somalia. When US troops were trapped in the thickly populated Madina Bazaar area of Mogadishu, it was the Seventh Frontier Regiment of the Pakistan Army that reached out and extricated them”

Being a retired Army Officer, I was aware that the Malaysian Army too had a contingent deployed in Somalia at the time, and was directly involved in the incident mentioned by President Musharraf. I was privy to the entire incident that resulted in one Malaysian soldier dead, nine others suffered serious casualties, and four Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) destroyed.

From the briefing that I had upon the troops returned to Malaysia, I could not remember having heard the involvement of the Seventh Frontier Regiment in the extrication of the trapped US soldiers, as described by President Musharraf. The truth of the matter was that, there was the Pakistani Tank Troop that were tasked to escort the combined Malaysian/US troop for the night rescue operation.

En route to Madina Bazaar, and upon reaching the last check point manned by some Pakistani soldiers, the escorting Pakistani Tank Troop Commander refused to move any further, stating that his tanks are not equipped with night fighting capabilities. An argument ensued between the Malaysian Troop Commander and the Pakistani Tank Troop Commander over the reluctance of the latter to continue the task of escorting the combined Malaysian/US troop.

Since time was the essence, and any delay could jeopardize the rescue operation and the safety of the trapped US soldiers, the Malaysian Troop Commander took a unilateral decision to proceed with the rescue effort without being escorted by tanks. The result of the rescue operation was a success, but during the fire fight, our troops suffered losses as mentioned above.

This significant incident is well documented by the Malaysian Army, and a commendation letter issued by the US Military Commander in Somalia, to the Malaysian Contingent Commander for a daring and successful rescue operation is available for viewing. I am not quite sure whether a similar letter was issued to the Pakistan Tank Troop or the Seventh Frontier Regiment.

President Musharraf’s book obviously has worldwide circulation, and for those who do not know about the incident, will believe in what has been written. And also, neither has the book made any mention about our troops participation in the rescue operation. Not even in the film Black Hawk Down, which only depicts US soldiers heroism in its most distasteful form; a propaganda that is typically American.

For the information of our Malaysian readers, the soldier who died in the incident and the Malaysian Troop Commander was meritoriously awarded the Pingat Gagah Berani (PGB) by the Yang Di Pertuan Agong in 1994.

1 comment:

captazhar said...

Just a note to add.

In a courtesy visit by the Commander of the US Pacific Fleet to MINDEF (1995/1996), he presented a certificate of commendation to the CDF for the Malaysian Army's role in the rescue operation in Mogadishu.