KOTA KINABALU (17 Okt) – Frequent training is what keeps security forces in the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) at the leading edge of combat capabilities, its chief Hazani Ghazali said.
Esscom is tasked with the security of the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone), a 1,700km-long special security area along the east coast of Sabah that borders crime-prone southern Philippines.
Formed after the 2013 armed intrusion into Lahad Datu by militants of the so-called Sulu Sultanate from the neighbouring nation, Esscom has significantly boosted security along the coastline.
The command has also drastically brought down maritime crimes such as kidnapping and piracy, which used to be rampant in the Sulu and Celebes seas.
“We are happy to say that no acts of piracy and kidnapping happened in the Esszone so far this year thanks to the vigilance of our troops and and cooperation of citizens,” Hazani told FMT.
“We don’t compromise with the state’s security, so we are doing everything we can to increase our capabilities to tackle elements of crime and terrorism that approach our country.
“Our secret is that we frequently train and rehearse so that when the time comes, we’re ready for action. That is why we constantly keep our troops at the leading edge of combat capabilities.”
The United States and Malaysia last month conducted Exercise Tiger Strike 2017, a bilateral training exercise intended to increase combat readiness, as well as help plan and execute amphibious operations.
This was the fourth time that the exercise was conducted by the two nations.
The latest exercise was held in Tanduo, Lahad Datu, which was deemed to be a suitable location, because Tanduo was at the centre of the 2013 Lahad Datu standoff.
“We just completed the Tiger Strike exercise, a joint-training with the US Army special forces group, the elite and famous Green Beret,” said Hazani.
“The amphibious exposure we learned from them was perfect for coastal operations like in the Esszone.”
Another training initiative is expected to be held in Sri Lanka to boost Esscom’s skill in maritime security control.
The Sea Combat Course will allow 20 personnel from Esscom to tap into the expertise of the Sri Lankans in safeguarding their waters.
“We expect to send some officers and personnel to a sea combat training in Sri Lanka early next year,” Hazani said.
“Hopefully, the government will approve our request for training with them.”
This year’s third series of Exercise Pasak was held this week at the Sandakan airport to refine Esscom troops’ urban counter-terrorism skills.
In his exercise closing speech yesterday, Hazani said the command was committed to ensuring the Esszone was secure and free of criminal and terror threats.
“We train hard, so that when the time comes, we fight easy,” Hazani concluded.