Come Monday, May 24th 2010 the newly minted Chief of Army (COA) Jen Dato Zulkifly Zain will make his maiden speech in what is known as ‘The Order of the Day’ speech at Sg. Besi Army Camp in a grand army parade. The speech sets in motion the COA desire on the shape and form of what he expects the Army to be. Normally, it is from this speech that policies/instructions emanate and to be disseminated down to the various commands for implementation. It is quite normal too that a text of the speech is prominently displayed at various places within the formation and units, to be mustered by officers and soldiers.
I do not know what is in the mind of the new COA, and how he intends to structure his speech. I hope the contents of the speech is not going to be one that is too ambitious and high sounding, but a speech whose ideas and thoughts are achievable, practical, desirable and most of all benefiting the army. I hope too that the speech is void of any intended acquisition of more sophisticated military hardware and grandeur projects. I would rather like to hear how the new COA intends to consolidate the forces (equipment and men) presently at his disposal, and to build them into a formidable force capable of meeting the challenges and demands of a modern army.
To meet the challenges and demands of a modern army, the developmental aspect of the human capital is of primary importance. Hence, I hope to hear the measures that the COA would take to fulfill the aforesaid requirement that not only emphasizes the development of the officer corps, but including the other ranks as well. Related to this, I hope he allude to the developmental aspect of the various army training institutions, to be coupled with the introduction of new teaching and training methods that is based on technologies that can generate excitement and realism in training.
I would also like to hear how he foresees the army reserve force (ARF) be develop into a force that can truly augment the regulars in time of need. There should be greater emphasis on ‘cross training’ and affiliation with the regulars so that a common bond and understanding is achieved. ARF must never be treated as a ‘second class army’, rather they be treated as equals with the regulars, if not better.
In so far as the technical units are concern, the thrust would be to develop knowledge and skills that can lead officers and soldiers alike to become experts in a specialized field. They should also be encouraged to go into research and development that can contribute to the development of the local defence industry. I have no doubt that our officers and soldiers have the prerequisite knowledge and skill to indulge in research and development; an area that has not been given focus in the past. The knowledge and skill that they have acquired is no loss to the army when they retire; on the contrary it will be a gain to the private sector and the nation upon them leaving the army.
I also hope that the speech does allude to the importance that the army is apolitical organization and should not be dragged into any political squabble by any one political party. Politicians must be told to avoid inferring the use of the army in any foreseeable civil disturbance. The decision to use the military or otherwise is a military one, and is not to be dictated by politicians. The public has to be reminded of the army’s primary role and it’s pledged loyalty to King and country. A word should also be made as to the army’s continued role in support of national development, particularly of the rural areas.
An emphasis must also be made with regards to developing a joint force operational capabilities with the other two armed services, because future wars will be joint in nature. Every effort must be made to include the participation of the other two armed services in all major army exercises, and such exercises must be well scheduled and regulated. The idea is to think 'joint', and not single service anymore.
Finally, make it clear that the army does not tolerate corrupt officers and soldiers, as the profession is a noble and honorable one. Establish a clear policy to refrain officers from having any dealings with businessman, or be seen to favour a particular businessman that has business interest with the army. If officers and soldiers are found to be corrupt, the punishment must be severe as a deterrent to others.
I wish the new COA the best of luck, and I have every confident and hope that he will lead the army to new heights.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION