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Monday, June 20, 2016

Young Men Die Fighting Old Men's War

There is a saying, young men die fighting old men's war. That saying can never be so true.

The recent release of 4 Sarawakian sailors by kidnap-for-ransom group (recent events and info points to possibly a different KFR group and not Abu Sayyaf Group which I will elaborate further) has reignited calls for Malaysian government to send armed combat troops into Southern Mindanao to destroy Abu Sayyaf Group.  Read it here.

This also coincide with Armed Forces of Philippines deployment of 5,000 ground troops to deal with the Abu Sayyaf, which is conservatively estimated at most 500 men.

I have come out to call for caution on my personal Facebook wall on this issue. As I have mentioned in my previous articles, here on this blog and main stream media during the Lahad Datu crisis, we should thread this cautiously.

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto
And as such, some have thought that I looked down on our military. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto too called for caution and opposed war against America during Second World War. His views were set aside, but he still served and even led the Imperial Japanese Navy attack on Pearl Harbour.

We (as in several other defence writers and myself) call for caution as things currently do not add up.

Philippines Claim over Sabah
One of the first act by President-elect, Rodrigo Duterte was to declare Philippines claim over Sabah.
This claim, while is without merit, has not deterred the populist President-elect to bring up the issue.
The Philippines is one of the 2 countries in ASEAN that had protested against the formation of Malaysia. The other being Indonesia.
President-Elect Rodrigo Duterte

While the Confrontation often saw Malaysian and British forces clashed with Indonesian regulars and irregular, Philippines Air Force had once did a straffing run in Jesselton. Then Navy Chief, Vice Admiral R Thanabalan was instructed by then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman to shoot down the offending aircraft if they appear again.

Then in the late 60's, then President, Ferdinand Marcos tried to plan for Oplan Merdeka, which called for infiltration of sleeper agents into Sabah before activating them to create insurgency in Sabah. The insurgents whom would then have the appearance of being locals, would then issue out request for international help to 'liberate' Sabahan from Malayan 'colonial-yoke'.

The plan failed when the men identified to be sleeper agents rebelled which led to Jabedah Massacre.
The incident which was announced by Senator Benigno Aquino Sr led to international condemnation
and Kuala Lumpur had even recalled our ambassador.

While ties between both nations have since normalised, the Damocles sword still hangs over Malaysia - Philippines relationship.

Lahad Datu Intrusion
During the 2013 Lahad Datu intrusion, more than 200 men from an obscure group calling itself as Royal Sulu Forces had landed in Lahad Datu, Sabah.  When their arrival was discovered by several auxiliary police who immediately informed the local OCPD.

The call to the local OCPD immediately started a plethora of activities unseen by most eyes.

Special forces troops were activated immediately and flown to Sabah.  As to prevent alarm to general public, they went to Sabah as normal tourists.

While on the ground, local OCPD tried to ascertain their identities. When it was ascertained these were Filipino, only then the government activated deployment of additional troops to Sabah.

And unlike computer games where you can leave redeploy your troops at your whims and fancies, deployment of troops have to consider local ground needs.  Remove too many troops from another location, and you opened up your flank for exploitation.

You might be asking.  Like who would be invading us?  The answer would be like any other countries which would want to exploit your weaknesses.

Who would that be?  Read my article on the regional geopolitics here.

So troops were activated from where we are least vulnerable and brought to Sabah while existing troops in Sabah were activated to their stations.

In my article back then which was published in the NST, I called for restrain, as there was a high possibility the attacks were targeted to destroy the Bangsamoro peace process framework, of which Malaysia is a key stakeholder, as the mediator.

Failure of this peace process will lead to return to status quo in the Southern Mindanao, where militants and kidnap-for-ransom groups reign freely.

One of the most aggrieved person with this peace process was Nur Misuari, founder of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Nur Misuari, Once a Friend, now a Foe
Malaysia had once provided sanctuary to Nur Misuari, believing that he was persecuted for being a Moro.
Nur Misuari

In fact, Malaysia had helped his MNLF till it obtained political recognition, similar to the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) is receiving today.

He was appointed as a Governor, but he squandered the chance.  As mounting allegations of corrupt practice, he launched his second rebellion in 2001.

Failed to gain ground, he tried to flee to Malaysia.  Upon entering Malaysian water, he was arrested and extradited back to the Philippines.

Many, including myself believe he has a hand behind the 2013 intrusion by RSF.  Most of RSF 200 men were MNLF men.

Thus was a surprise when recent noise pointed that Nur Misuari was a key negotiator in obtaining the release of the 4 Sarawakian sailors.

As he staked his claim again in the Philippines political scene, his intention was brought out to the open when he openly declared that he still wants to wrest Sabah from Malaysia.

Some of his men had unabashedly wore patches you can see here.
Patch with Philippines flag and the
word Sabah

MNLF requesting for ammunition.  Best we stay put
and let them fight it out themselves.


How Does These Link to Malaysia Going to War Against Abu Sayyaf?
Very likely, the war against Abu Sayyaf will be used to entice Malaysian government to provide troops for ground operations.

Very likely, our ground troops would be receiving hostile reception.  And in a worst case scenario, our troops could be trapped without support.

As there is a preexisting anger against Malaysian intervention in the Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf could manipulate the situation where our forces are being seen as occupying forces.  It happened to our police force once in the 70's.  Our Police Field Force based in Betong, Thailand were chased out of Betong due to untenable political situation for both Thailand government and our troops.

And in a short while, our troops which is supposed to be there to eliminate and pacify the Abu Sayyaf would be seen as an enemy instead of trusted friends.

Soldiers Have Families Too
As I have mentioned from time to time, soldiers have families too.  They will be more than ready to defend the country if we provide them with the right type of equipment.  They're not machines that have no feelings.

And likewise, they are not cowards.  They will answer the Nation's Call to defend their country if needed to.  But are we giving them enough and not tying them down.

Army Day 2014 - A soldier with his family

Puan Rosiah Dahalan.  Her husband was killed in Kampung Siminuljaya.
I managed to rush to his funeral. 

Father of Kpl Abu Hurairah, killed in battle at Sungai Semut, Lahad Datu.
Can you look into his eyes and thank him?

Another photo of a soldier with his children. 
Wak Tukiran and his wife.  Their son, Kpl Azrul was killed in
Kampung Siminuljaya.
All that is left, a medal in place of a son lost in battle.

And I write all my articles not for the fun of it.  Nor for popularity.  But it is for these men and women, who bear arms for our country.  It is for their family, that I continue to write, so their heroism will not be forgotten.  It is for them, that I continue to write, that their voices be heard.  And in today's world of old politicians, we do not want young men to die for their war.

As requested by a friend.  A tribute to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

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