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Interview With Chief of Navy of Malaysia

In conjunction with the Navy Day which fell on April 27, the Chief of Navy of Malaysia, Admiral Abdul Aziz bin Haji Jaafar is having an exclusive interview with Kuala Lumpur Security Review.

He is warmly welcoming China to provide Submarine Operation training to Malaysia, and confirming that Malaysia will acquire Frigate Batch Two before 2010.

 

KLS: Can you update us the development of Submarines? The training progress? Do you foresee RMN would have cooperation with China regarding to Submarine warfare training?

Chief of Navy: The construction of both SCORPENE submarines is now at 84.1 %. The first SCORPENE submarine is expected to be delivered to the Government in January 2009 with the second SCORPENE scheduled for delivery in October 2009.

The training program is also on going as per schedule. Currently, there are around 145 RMN personnel undergoing submarine training in Brest, France.

It is possible that the RMN would cooperate with China in the aspect of submarine warfare training. Being a new player in the submarine fraternity, any kind of submarine training offer by experienced submarine operating navy is always welcome by the RMN. China has been operating submarines for quite long. It is certainly a good opportunity for the RMN to cooperate and learn from them if there is an opening to do so.

KLS: Would “Quessant” come back to Malaysia to serve?

Chief of Navy: No, Quessant is reaching 30 years old, and very hard to get its spare parts. Malaysia also doesn’t have skillful personal to maintain and service it. However, Quessant will be sent to homeland for display purpose where at museum. Quessant has significant historical value for RMN, and she is important part of the RMN’s effort to establish submarine fleet.

KLS: Historically, Malaysian Chiefs of Defence Force were mainly from Army, the exception was Datuk Mohd Anwar. So, do you foresee that the leadership of Chief of Defence Force would slowly incline to some sort of rotation mechanism?

Chief of Navy: It is a fact that Tan Sri Anwar appointment as Chief of Defence Force sets a history by itself which breaks the tradition of being solely Army bias. Although Tan Sri Anwar had set the precedent, as Defence Minister did stressed that the appointment is not a sign of rotation mechanism. The general understanding derived from Tan Sri Anwar appointment is only the possibility for the Chief of Defence Force to come from other services other than Army if the situasion arises and suitable candidate for the post.

KLS: Director General of Defence Intelligence Staff Division, Dato’ Mohd Salleh Ismail, in his recent published article on 7th January at Berita Harian has stated that ‘Dalam konteks ini, ATM boleh mempelajari bagaimana PLA melengkap dan memaklumatkan angkatan tentera mereka dalam konteks Revolusi dalam Hal Ehwal Tentera (RMA). Selain itu, China juga menampakkan kejayaan dalam teknologi tentera.’ Does it mean that there is an information technology gap between Malaysian Navy and PLA?

Chief of Navy: Being one of the military major powers, China devotion for developing next generation capabilities which include information technology is understandable. It is in tandem with her strategic doctrine which since 1990s has emphasized greater power projection and sophisticated weaponry. Especially in today's evolving net-centric operational environment, the need to get and disseminate accurate data in a secure and timely manner has never been greater. Information technology would deliver superiority in term of an unparalleled level of battle space knowledge and understanding.

Ongoing Malaysian Armed Forces modernization process has also focus on information technology transformation. Over the years there have been substantial investments by the Government in equipping the Malaysian Armed Forces with modern weapon and information system. The Royal Malaysian Navy for example has acquired new generation warships equipped with highly sophisticated and ultramodern information systems which capable of dealing with any kind of warfare scenario including the information warfare. Our level of information technology capability if not higher is at par with other regional Armed Forces.

KLS: Current and future warfare will be conducted under the condition of complicated electro-magnetic warfare, so has Malaysian Navy well prepared to win a war under the condition of complicated electro-magnetic warfare?

Chief of Navy: The Malaysian Navy has developed our Electronic Warfare capability since the early 70’s. Our ships were equipped with all the three major element of electronic warfare namely Electronic Support (ES), Electronic Protection (EP) and Electronic Attack (EA). Nevertheless, due to technological evolution of the electronic warfare environment, we are continuously enhancing our capability with new programme and procurement. This will help us to be competitive and capable in the scenario you have painted.

KLS: Radar, military computer and communication network, and command system will certainly be prior targets in the beginning of war. Thus, how navy deals with the stated threats?

Chief of Navy: The navy has taken various measures in ensuring our computer based command and control and communication. It is hardened and able to deny any threats. Maybe you’ve probably aware that we are operating in a very hostile environment (existence of hackers and crackers etc) where computer and communication are concern. Being successful in this environment is actually measured on how well you can operate your systems in such a hostile environment, not by the gadget or protection in place. So far we have been successful.

KLS: Do you agree the terms of “How the war was fought, then how the training is conducted?” Can you share with us your opinion thought? If you agree, then how to incorporate this concept into reality?

Chief of Navy: We fully agree with that statement. In order to win the war, we must prepare ourselves in all aspects including equipment, material, methodology or tactics, and the most important aspect will be the manpower. We recognized that all Navy People are our most valuable assets. So as to materialize that statement and concept into reality, the navy will enhance our manpower competencies and knowledge by enhancing hand-on training and man-machine interfaces. Hand with hand with implementing Competency Based Training and Assessment (CBTA) concept in our Training System, the Navy will procure more simulators in order to transfer operation situation into training environment.

To enhance man-machine interface, the Navy will study the possibility to embark Pre-Joining Training (PJT) concept. All Navy People which required handling equipment are then mandatory to undergo this training prior joining the ships.

We will also inculcate and develop strong and effective leader to lead the Navy to the future through our newly formed Leadership Centre.

KLS: Navy is playing an important role in holistic security and comprehensive security. But, as an ordinary civilian we do not know very well about Malaysian Comprehensive Security. So, can you share with us the objective, strategy and action plan of Malaysian Comprehensive Security, particularly the role of Navy?

Chief of Navy: Total Defence is one of the Malaysian National Defence policies. In defending Malaysia, the concept prescribes total mobilization of material and human resources which includes government agencies, private sectors. Further to that, it requires direct involvement and participation of non-military citizen. Total Defence covers 5 spectrums of defence which are military, civil, economy, social and psychology. During crisis situation where national interest is in jeopardy, supporting forces such as reserve and volunteer forces would be deployed to assist the military forces.

In the case of RMN, other than its core business of defending the sovereignty of Malaysian waters and keeping the SLOC remain open, the mobilization of national resources would entail actions such as deployment of RMN Reserve as well as taking command and control of all government and private agencies maritime assets. The RMN is also responsible for ensuring continuous production, supply and communication of strategic and raw material for defence purposes.

KLS: How about RMN future development plan?

Chief of Navy: RMN will focus in enhancing anti submarine capability in the future, and the next is air defence capability. Currently, the planning is including second batch of anti submarine capability NGPV, and under RMK 10 would procure six anti submarine helicopters.

KLS: We all know BAE System has unveiled Malaysian Second Batch Frigate model during LIMA 2007, so may we know when would RMN and BAE sign an agreement to build these ships?

The model that was shown over LIMA 2007 is just an indicative physical representation of the Malaysian Second Batch Frigate. The actual outfitting and onboard systems are still being negotiated. Agreed terms of the contract are still being negotiated with BAE Systems. The Navy is working very hard to assist the Government in acquiring these potent capabilities. So far, we are still on schedule and it is planned for the acquisition to take place in 9th Malaysia Plan.

KLS: The status of first batch NGPV?

Chief of Navy: The third NGPV will be commissioning in January 2009, the fourth ship is scheduled in August 2009. The fifth and sixth ships will be in active service before 2010. The first batch of NGPV will focus in SPECIALLY FOCUSED MISSION, the planned second batch of NGPV would be assigned as anti submarine ships. The third batch would be air defence NGPV.

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