Friday, 15 November 2013


By M. Hanif Ismail
(Source: KD Mahawangsa)

In Part IV we have looked at the resources that we currently have to form the base for the new Marine Corps. From this base, we can grow the capabilities and reach of the new Marine Corps to be a strategically mobile rapid deployment force.

Here we will look at the requirements for a tactically mobile Marine Corps as well as for a strategically mobile, power projection-capable Marine Corps.


TRAINED TROOPS: While the initial troops for the new Marine Corps can come from the commandos / Special Forces formations and the 10 Para Brigade, making this a permanent arrangement will dilute the focus on the core tasking of these formations. The commandos / Special Forces formations are tasked to conduct special operations including unconventional warfare and counter terrorism, while the 10 Para Brigade are tasked to conduct airborne operations. The tasking of each formation determines the kind of specialised trainings their personnel have to go through. For example, members of the 10 Para Brigade not only have to qualify as an airborne trooper (by passing the basic airborne course), but also need to maintain currency in airborne operations. Same goes for members of all the Special Forces formations who have to qualify and maintain currency in their own specialised skill sets.


A number of infantry battalions were disbanded when the Malaysian Armed Forces was downsized post-Second Emergency (Plan Force Level 2000), including the 26th and 27th Royal Malay Regiment and 11th Royal Ranger Regiment. These 3 infantry battalions can be re-raised in stages with initial troops / nucleus coming from one company of 9 RMR with experience in amphibious operations. The newly re-raised infantry battalions will form the main elements of the new Marine Corps, tasked to conduct amphibious operations. The Corps will be based at the new Bintulu Naval Base / Joint Base, “Home of the Marines”.

Reconnaissance elements will come from 21 GGK / PASKAL, detachments  to be forward deployed to Bintulu Naval Base / Joint Base.

AMPHIBIOUS WARFARE SHIPS: See previous post. KD Mahawangsa and KD Sri Indera Sakti will need to be based at Bintulu Naval Base / Joint Base to enable rapid deployment of the new Marine Corps. Some dredging work may be necessary to support the operations of these ships at the new Base.

SPECIALISED CRAFT: Modern specialised craft such as the L-CAT (Landing CATamaran) from CNIM or LCM-1E from Navantia would be needed to transport Marines, vehicles and materials from ship to shore. L-CAT has a range of about 1,000km / 600 nautical miles, more than enough to reach any place in our Exclusive Economic Zone (200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured).

The helicopters to transport Marines and materials from ship to shore will come from the Air Force, embarked on Navy ships. 

AIR COVER: For regional operations, the air cover and close air support can be provided by forward-deployed, shore-based Air Force aircraft such as the F/A-18D and the Su-30MKM.  Alor Setar, Subang and Kuching Air Bases as well as Tawau Airport will need to be upgraded with the necessary facilities to support rapid forward deployment of these aircraft (ordnance loading area, ordnance storage area, etc.).

MARITIME PROTECTION: More multi-role frigates are needed in the near future; as the current 2 Lekiu-class frigates in service are just not enough. Near future option is to arm the 6 Kedah-class offshore patrol vessels. These escort vessels need to be based at Bintulu Naval Base / Joint Base to support rapid deployment of the amphibious warfare task force.


TRAINED TROOPS: See above. Additional support elements: air defence, armour, armoured personnel carrier, artillery, engineer, signal, etc. are needed to make the new Marine Corps tactically and administratively self-sufficient.  These support elements also need to be based at Bintulu Naval Base / Joint Base.

AMPHIBIOUS WARFARE SHIPS: A more modern LPD design would be needed in the next 10 years as KD Mahawangsa and KD Sri Indera Sakti would be over 40 years old then, as both were commissioned in 1983. 2 Rotterdam-class LPD which can transport 1 battalion / 600 troops of Marines each would be a good choice to fulfill that requirement. Again, some dredging work may be necessary to support the operations of new amphibious warfare ships at Bintulu Naval Base / Joint Base.

SPECIALISED CRAFT: See above. A Rotterdam-class LPD can embark 4 Sea King-sized helicopters and 2 L-CAT. 

AIR COVER: See above. The facilities at Layang Layang island (Swallow Reef) should also be upgraded to support forward deployed fighters, as its strategic location will further expand the reach of the aircraft.

Airborne early warning aircraft are also essential to provide early warning to the amphibious warfare task force the farther the operation area is from land-based air defence radars. E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning & control aircraft with the new AN/APY-9 radar offered by Northrop Grumman is among the best available on the market right now. The AN/APY-9 has a quoted range of “more than 300 nm”. Being a smaller aircraft means it is easier to be forward deployed to places like Layang Layang island if necessary, as it can operate from shorter runways.

MARITIME PROTECTION: See above. Future option includes the procurement of the 6 proposed Littoral Combatant Ships and / or the 2 enhanced Lekiu-class frigates.


7 Ps, a British Army adage, states that, “Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance”.

With proper planning and budget, the new Marine Corps can smoothly transition from a force with limited capability and reach to being a modern, strategically mobile force in about a decade.

The military is an instrument of the national policy. Thus, it cannot be stressed enough that a strong political will is imperative to turn this dream of a modern and capable Marine Corps into a reality. The formation of the new Marine Corps not only can act as deterrence for any military adventurism in the South China Sea, but in the long term will also act one of the symbols of national power as we continue on the path to reach the status of a fully developed nation by 2020.

1 comment:

  1. Bintulu is too far from ESSCOM. Put the marines in Sepanggar or Labuan.


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