The formalization of a border security force dedicated to manning our country’s borders is apt and timely. I am alluding to the recent establishment of a Border Brigade which was reported in the New Straits Times recently. The Brigade with its Headquarters in Perlis, has five border battalions strung astride the Malaysia-Thai border.
Prior to this, the battalions were manned by mobilized soldiers from the army reserve force, commonly known as territorial units. Being mobilized soldiers, they are governed by a different set of regulations and terms of service, which are not attractive, when compared to their regular counterparts. Hopefully, with the regularization of the border security forces, the soldiers are now on ‘equal footing’ with the regular forces, in every aspect of their career.
Manning of static border posts are not normally liked by the regular forces. It is boring and restricts the initiative of soldiers, and without any activity over a long period of time, complacency will eventually creep in. These are some of the fears that commanders are confronted with, when ordered to do static operational duties. I am quite sure, this fear will also ‘haunt’ commanders of this new border security force, besides other motivational issues affecting soldiers permanently deployed in border areas.
With the establishment of the border security force, regular battalions are now relieved of such duties, and are therefore able to concentrate more on their core function i.e. to train to master the art of a modern war, which is getting more complex.
In light of this new development in the Army’s force structure, I would hasten to suggest that Army also look at a similar force structure, to relieve regular forces manning all islands in Sabah, and along our coastal areas. This deployment which was aimed primarily at curbing the intrusion of illegal immigrants, should not have been the responsibility of army units.