PETALING JAYA, Dec 8 — The National Patriot Association (Patriot) has called for the formulation of a clear policy on troop deployment overseas following the recent controversy over the armed forces’ mission under Ops Yemen II.
Its president, Brig. Gen (Rtd) Datuk Mohamad Arshad Raji, said the policy which includes the procedure and process of troop deployment must be fully understood by all armed forces generals.
He also encouraged all generals and senior officers in the Defence Ministry to be well-schooled in international laws and United Nations’ Conventions, particularly in the international rules governing military operations.
“Patriot supports the decision by the Ministry of Defence to carry out an investigation into the decision-making process of sending troops to Saudi Arabia that was deemed illegal and reconcile the wrongs committed,” he said in a statement today.
Mohamed Arshad also urged the chief of the defence forces to come forward and clarify the “unsatisfactory and confusing explanation” given by former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein that the National Security Council (NSC) had a role in the decision-making on Ops Yemen II.
He said this was important to put right the standard operating procedures relating to the deployment of troops overseas for missions other than those under the auspices of the United Nations.
“The National Security Act 2015 stated that the primary role of the NSC is to formulate policies and strategic measures on national security. Its role is also to monitor the implementation of the policies and strategic measures on national security.
“The Act does not empower the NSC to declare war or to deploy our troops overseas,” Muhammad Arshad said.
He added that the controversy over the deployment of troops alongside Saudi coalition forces in their war against Yemen since 2015 must be a lesson for the armed forces leadership.
“Troops must not be placed in harm’s way and that their deployment overseas must be legally justified,” he said.
On April 6, 2015, the Malaysian military deployed 26 officers, 16 rank-and-file troops and two C130 to Riyadh Saudi Arabia under Ops Yemen I. Its purpose was to evacuate Malaysian citizens from war-torn Yemen. This had received Cabinet approval.
However, the operation was extended from June 11, 2015 to September 4, 2018 under Ops Yemen II which saw 27 officers and 62 rank-and-file troops being deployed on a three-month rotation to support the Arab Alliance’s military operations by flying equipment, bullets and explosives into Saudi Arabia airspace.
On Monday, Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong alleged that Hishammuddin departed from standard procedures in the deployment of Malaysian troops to participate in a Saudi-led coalition that is in conflict with Yemen by neglecting to seek Cabinet approval beforehand.
Responding to Liew’s claims, Hishammuddin had told reporters on Wednesday that he had already briefed Parliament on the issue of the deployment of Malaysian military personnel to Yemen two years ago.
He further explained that the decision to deploy military personnel in Saudi Arabia was made through the NSC and that he also disclosed that the personnel deployed were not on active duty with no combat training.
The second phase of Ops Yemen cost the nation RM14.6 million for the 12 flight missions and roughly RM1.5 million per three-month rotation.