90 soldiers will leave for Maoist bastion Selangor in two weeks.
NEW DELHI: In less than two weeks from now, about 90 battle-hardened soldiers from the Indian Army will leave for the thick and lush jungles of Malaysia’s Selangor, a Maoist bastion in the 1950s, to exchange ideas, tactics and techniques with one of Malaysia’s finest jungle and guerrilla warfare exponents.
Besides Selangor, Kelantan, Perak, and Johor were among the most active areas for the Maoist insurgents.
The Exercise “Harimau Shakti”, literally meaning ‘tiger strength’ is particularly significant because Malaysia is one of those very few countries globally that has successfully exterminated organized insurgencies even as India’s fight against insurgency across many regions continue.
Detailing the exercise in Selangor’s Hulu Langat, Colonel Aman Anand, spokesperson of the Indian Army, told this newspaper: “It is the first iteration of this exercise that is happening in Malaysia that too at a much larger scale including the field training phase involving operations in deep jungle terrain.”
“From the Indian Army side, one of the oldest and proudest battalions of the 4 Grenadiers (CQMH Abdul Hamid, PVC) will train together with the 1, Royal Ranger Regiment, a unit considered to be a master in jungle warfare. Both sides have great experience in counter insurgency and counter terrorist operations so we expect to learn a lot from each other,” he added.
In course of its history, Malaysia has endured two serious internal security challenges, termed ‘emergencies’ in the form of armed insurgency by Maoist communists. While the first emergency continued for 12 years from 1948 to 1960, the second lasted for 21 years from 1968 to 1989.
Initially finding that conventional tactics like cordon and search operations not working, the Malaysian state resorted to raising of Special Forces which attained huge success. One of the first moves comprised recruiting the aborigines to set up special paramilitary forces like the Sarawak Rangers which was renamed as the Royal Rangers regiment in 1963.
About 113 soldiers from the Malaysian Army’s Royal Rangers regiment are expected to participate in the two-week-long exercise that ends on May 13. Both the armies’ will use the M4 A1 assault rifle—one of the favourites of Special Forces’ commandos across the world for its lightweight and accuracy.
While the main aim of the exercise is to enhance army to army coordination and cooperation with a focus on counter terror and counter insurgency in jungle terrain, the operational exchanges between the two teams will include search and destroy operations, staging attacks on enemy camps, mounting an ambush, jungle survival tactics, handling and countering of IEDs etc.
In 1960, the Malaysian government had pushed the remnants of the Maoist movement to the Malaysia-Thailand border from where they again raised the banner of rebellion in 1968 only to be completely quelled in 1989.