Malaysian Armed Forces’ responsibilities evolve according to changing times, says chief

Chief of Defence Forces Gen Tan Sri Affendi Buang speaks to the media at Wisma Pertahanan in Kuala Lumpur, July 1, 2020. — Bernama pic
Chief of Defence Forces Gen Tan Sri Affendi Buang speaks to the media at Wisma Pertahanan in Kuala Lumpur, July 1, 2020. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — Beginning from the Second World War when they fought against the Japanese army, right up to countering communist threats when the state of emergency was declared, the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) had the formidable task of defending the country from external threats.

Now after 87 years, the functions and responsibilities borne by the MAF have evolved in response to changing times.

Established in March 1933, the MAF which consists of three branches, namely the Army, Navy and  Air Force had always been involved in various operations either within or outside the country, with the same mission of defending national security and sovereignty.

In celebrating its 87th anniversary, Chief of Defence Force General Tan Sri Affendi Buang has outlined four main thrusts as a guide to enhance the team’s image, namely empowering asset readiness; empowering MAF excellent staff; strengthening MAF capabilities in the cyber domain; and translating the Defence White Paper.

The Defence White Paper, which sets out the strategic direction of the country’s defence for a period of 10 years to defend national interests and protect Malaysia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, will continue to be the main guide when implementing and planning short, medium and long-term goals.

“Development of MAF capabilities for both maritime and air domains has been given special focus in the Defence White Paper and the development of these two domains will take a long time as its implementation period is from 2021 to 2030,” Affendi said in a special interview at Wisma Pertahanan here, in conjunction with MAF’s 87th anniversary celebrated each year on Sept 16.

Affendi said to ensure tasks and responsibilities entrusted are carried out effectively, it is important to have a certain level of operational readiness, and focus should be given to ensure that the existing assets are fully prepared to face any eventuality.

Citing Ops Benteng under the National Task Force (NTF) which was implemented during the movement control order (MCO), Affendi said the main challenge in safeguarding and controlling the country’s border was the need for additional assets to handle entry of migrants and smuggling activities.

“In Ops Benteng, instead of large assets, only interceptor boats, four-wheel-drive vehicles and scrambler bikes were required for patrolling and monitoring activities.

“This is because migrants and smugglers will not land at large jetty areas but will instead choose remote areas,” he said, adding that the use of drones had also helped in such situations as migrants were constantly changing their modus operandi to enter the country.

He said it was difficult to read the smugglers’ strategies which were ever-changing and this had been one of the challenges faced by the MAF in safeguarding the country’s borders and vast territorial waters.

“Our main problem had been in dealing with the local smuggling agents who are traitors, but somehow the NTF managed to overcome these challenges,” he said.

He said until today, the tekongs and their informers are still being hunted down and several syndicate members have been arrested following on-going operations.

Ops Benteng implemented since May 2020 is an integrated effort to ensure that the country’s borders are safeguarded and to eliminate cross-border crimes as well as to prevent the spread of Covid-19. — Bernama

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