Mat Sabu: Use of ‘live’ ammunition in training will continue

Defence Minister Mat Sabu (left) arrives at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur October 24, 2019. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana
Defence Minister Mat Sabu (left) arrives at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur October 24, 2019. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 ― The use of ‘live’ ammunition during military exercise and demonstration for commando or special forces unit personnel will continue to enhance their competence, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu stressed that the use of ‘live’ ammunition in military training, called live-fire training, had been used by special forces around the world to produce tough and highly competent personnel to deal with special operations especially during hostage rescue operations or in ‘hostile’ situations.

However, he said, the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) would review and improve the standard operating procedure (SOP) through the formation of a special team to prevent the recent fatal incident involving the late Major Mohd Zahir Armaya from recurring.

“In terms of the risks in using ‘live’ ammunition, the ministry does not deny that there is a risk faced by military personnel involved in such training.

“However, it is worth it, as the results obtained, based on the ability of the 21 Special Forces groups to produce highly competent, motivated officers and personnel to continue carrying out the country’s specific and strategic missions,” he said in an oral question-and answer session.

He said this in his reply to a question from Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (BN-Bagan Datuk) who wanted to know if there was a need for a change in the SOP for any military demonstration conducted by the MAF following Mohd Zahir’s death.

In the incident on Sept 4, the late Mohd Zahir, a commando with the 11th Special Forces Regiment, was killed during a demonstration exercise held in conjunction with the launching of the 13th Infantry Brigade and Fifth Infantry Division at the Lok Kawi army camp.

Mohamad said the SOP on training and safety instructions issued by MAF were comprehensive to ensure the safety of those involved and they covered aspects of administration, implementation, safety in training and demonstrations.

Referring to the standard of bulletproof vest used during the demonstration, Mohamad explained that it was in accordance with United States National Institute of Justice Level III standard (7.62mm), which was suitable for use in the army’s close-range live-firing exercises.

“There was no problem with the bulletproof vest we are currently using and I personally witnessed a training session at the special forces group (GGK) headquarters at the Iskandar Camp in Mersing, Johor, on how ‘live’ ammunition were used in the close-range firing exercise.

“During the exercise, I also witnessed our military personnel’s high competency,” he said.

He said this in his reply to a supplementary question from Noor Amin Ahmad (PH-Kangar) about the risks of bulletproof vest used by MAF personnel during military exercises.

Mohamad also said that the investigation papers on the case had also been completed and submitted to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for further action. ― Bernama

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