Saturday, July 12, 2008


I read with interest a report cited in Utusan on line dated July 12, 2008, that the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) wants to establish a Commando Unit to the the newly formed Joint Force HQ (Markas Angkatan Bersama).

I am informed that the Joint Force HQ ( a tri service outfit) is already being created (though not fully manned), and is presently located at the Ministry of Defence complex at Jalan Pandang Tembak, Kuala Lumpur. I am not quite sure how the HQ is organized, where is it to finally located, and to which organizational model have they adopted. I am not surprise if they have adopted the Australian model, knowing that our MAF has had close affiliation with the Australian Armed Forces.

While I was in service, I had the opportunity to undergo a Joint Warfare Course at the Australian Joint Warfare Training Centre at Williamstown, Australia. It was a new exposure for me, since joint warfare training has never been taught at our training institutions at the time. The course participants comprised of officers from the three services i.e. Army, Navy and Air Force.

The objective behind the creation of a Joint Force is to ready troops for deployment outside the area of our own defences. In other words, having the capability to deploy troops overseas, for whatever the purpose. The force being joint in nature, would perforce have it own resources in ships and aircrafts, beside the infantry component.

Such being the composition of the force, it is a highly mobile force capable of operating independently. I would say that it is the most expensive force to maintain, and there are not very many Armed Forces in the world today, having such a force. I don't remember both the Indian and Pakistan Armed Forces having such a force, despite them having quite a large Armed Forces.

With the establishment of the Joint Force HQ for the MAF, several questions need to be asked:

1. Is there a real necessity to create a dedicated Joint Force component for the MAF?
2. Is the establishment in conformity with the needs of the country's national defence strategy?
3. How would the force be equipped? Is it through the concept of affiliation of current Army, Navy and Air Force resources to the force, or it is through the concept of having dedicated resources comprising of components of the three services?

Joint Warfare training is highly complex, with a unique command and control organization. Jointry can only be exercised if the force is a dedicated one. If the concept is one of affiliation, then I am afraid, jointry will not be achieved.

I wish the Armed Forces all the best in its new undertaking, and it is my hope to see the aspirations of the force be fulfilled.


maurice said...

Really a good move to have Joint Force HQ responsible for special forces operations.It would optimize our military resources and economy of effort at the highest level of command.

It would be interesting to see how this is going to be done since the Commandos, PASCAL and PASCAU are currently under the command of the respective Army, Navy and Air Force Chiefs.Would elements of the above be assigned on rotational basis to the Joinf Force HQ by the respective service? Or the Joint Force HQ to have its own dedicated special forces operations group.

I anticipate the military planners will weight the pros and cons of the options available to them and adopt an approach that would be cost-effective and enhance further the level of inter-service cooperation to a greater height of success.

maurice said...

The Joint Force HQ is best suited when there a need to conduct operations involving the participation of more than one service on a piece-meal basis within and outside our national territory.

For example if one of Petronas oil-rigs in the EEZ is held hostage by a Lanun Force, then the Joint Force HQ will need to deploy its joint special operations group to rescue it.

On the other hand if one our islands in the EEZ is occupied by a hostile force, then the Joint Force HQ will need to conduct a bigger operation involving the Army, Navy and Air Force components to repel the hostile forces.This is where the challenge is, to make the joint forces operations workable in times of conflicts.There is a lot of work, sweat and money involved here to put the required joint systems in place such as the intelligence systems, operational procedures and tactics, common user equipment, communications systems, logistics support etc, etc.It is a mind-bogling problems which will test the limit of the military leadership.

The Joint Force HQ concept is unlikely to be suitable for the general defence of Malaysia.We need a national composition HQ for this purpose.

ArshadRaji said...

Dear Maurice,

Both your comments are extremely valid. These are issues that the Armed Forces has to resolve, if indeed the nations wants to have a credible joint force. I do hope some guys from the Armed Forces do read your comments.

Anonymous said...

Only individual who some or rather made a mistake of joining The Armed Forces before would understand what you are talking about.

Dont explode your mind to assist the existing PAT to think about how to defend this country as it is proven on record that we Malaysian especially Johorean have lost an island by a stroke of a pen. What did the Armed Forces do to defend the rest of our islands "tidor" that is what they did. The Armed Forces dont even know their jurisdiction and power during peace time. Read the Federal Constitution and Akta Angkatan Tentera 1972 before u talk about Joint Forces HQ and what not. Look at the Armed Forces position now vis to vis the Police who dont have YDP Agong as their Supreme Commander.Other organisation like Rela,JPJ,Bomba,Kastam,BPR and the rest now is happily wearing the same stars that u wear before and claim their position to be equivalent and same status as Armed Forces General. Again the Generals "tidor" like their political master "cari makan".

The Malaysian Armed Forces should be free to demarcate its own Defence Policy rather than copy its counterpart in Australia, as we have different background,different policy,different enemies,different threat etc etc..........I believe in home grown theory relevant to Malaysian environment.Jawatan Kuasa Panglima Panglima please think (if they still in existence).

M Hanif said...

The Joint Forces HQ as I understand it works on an assigned forces concept, with component commander from individual service, and one joint commander from JFHQ
each joint task force is task-oriented and not permanent (no permanent attachment to JFHQ)
all current and future ops involving more than one service (or potentially will involve more than one) will be under JFHQ
eg, the current UNIFIL in Lebanon

Zali said...

It true that the JFHQ does not have any asset as to conduct any operations. It depend on the Service that will be assign when needed but some how rather it also depend on the JCC (Joint Chief Committee). The troops all belong to Single Service Chief. If the Service Chiefs does not allow their troops and assets to be assign to JFHQ, what is the role of CDF? Even the Service Chief does not favor the joint concept. It is very complicated since the joint will depend solely on Single Service. The real story forming up the JFHQ is just to get the 'stars' appointments. That is the reality.