Irfan Z. is a long time friend of TFB, and has contributed tips about various subjects, particularly within Southeast Asia. This is his first guest post entirely written by him, for TFB.
Malaysia has just completed Independence Day 2017 celebrations and just like every other nation in the region, there was a colorful parade that showed off the countries local culture, innovation, and most interestingly for many of us, their small arms. Many of the local law enforcement and military units marched past carrying their issued weapons.
Most prominent and I hear it’s a favorite here due to the color of their head dress were the PASKAL (Pasukan Khas Laut, Naval special forces) with their magenta berets. This year they were displaying their HK416s equipped with the HK AG36 40mm grenade launchers (more commonly known as the M320), Aimpoint M4S reflex sight and Brugger & Thomet Rotex III compact suppressor. Missing this year are the multiple variants of the HK XM8 that they usually display. In the photograph above, the rest of the naval contingent that is marching in front of the PASKAL forces in their own pixelated camouflage uniforms are carrying the locally manufactured and licensed produced Colt M4 rifles by SME Ordnance.
This year’s uniformity looks much more pleasing as compared to last year’s display of almost all the small arms they had in one contingent as shown in the photo above.
Trailing behind the main naval contingent is a small group of PASKAL troopers on their RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat). It has a mounted FN Mag machine gun mounted up front to engage pirates or other seaborne targets when they are deployed to intercept them.
Pictured above is the Police VAT69 (“Very Able Troopers ’69”) commandos. They were first formed in 1969 as an anti-communist terrorist unit and modeled after 22nd SAS Regiment. They are parading on top of their Streit Cobra APC which is an up armored Toyota Land Cruiser. Seen here they are equipped with the locally manufactured Colt APC carbines. Some are issued the Trijicon TA31 ACOGs and some have the Eotech 552 holographic sights. They’re also donning their new ranger green uniforms manufactured by OPS and distributed by Ur-Tactical of Hong Kong. Their plate carriers are from an obscure manufacturer that I am unable to identify, but from the size of their magazine pouches I am willing to bet that it’s meant to be used with many different magazine sizes of larger calibers.
Urban areas are usually the territory of another unit called the UTK (Unit Tindakan Khas, Special Actions Unit). Unfortunately, their customized Ferfrans Soar P rifles are not visible in the photograph.
Unlike the UTK and Vat69 Commandos which are under the PGK (Pasukan Gerak Khas, Special Operations Command) umbrella of the Malaysian Police Force, there are three other task force groups that operate directly from their headquarters in Bukit Aman. These are the STING (Special Tactics and Intelligence Narcotics group), STAFOC (Special Task Force on Organized Crime) and STAGG (Special Task force for Anti-vice Gambling and Gangsterism). These new groups marching can be seen to be equipped with the CZ Scorpion Evo3 A1 submachine gun and Bushmaster Carbon 15 9mm carbine.
The Royal Malaysia Air Force’s PASKAU(Pasukan Khas Udara) contingent this year is easily identifiable by their bright blue berets and are parading their Milkor M32 MGL grenade launchers and Swiss Arms SG 553 with the Eotech 552 and magnifier attached. The ones clad in black apparel and gear are carrying the HK MP5A5 with an Aimpoint Pro attached. Seen next to the black clad Paskau members are those from their sniper platoon. They’re dressed in their ghillie suits and are armed with the Accuracy International Arctic Warfare Rifles.
Next up is the Malaysian Army contingent. This is by far one of the larger contingents mainly due to the amount of ground based hardware they have. From the LipanBara HMAVs (High mobility Armored Vehicle) by Deftech with a turret mounted DillonAero M134 minigun to their Polish made PT-91M Pendekar Main Battle tank with a 125mm main gun and a secondary FN MAG machine gun.
Marching behind them are the infantrymen donning their older woodland type camouflage dubbed Harimau Belang (Tiger stripe) still carrying the older locally manufactured Steyr AUG rifles. These are being replaced by the newer Colt M4s by SME Ordnance. Just after them like a show of contrast between an older equipped unit and a recently commissioned unit is the 7th RRP (Rejimen Renjer Di raja Mek, Mechanized Ranger Regiment). These soldiers are wearing the newer digital camouflage pattern. Their helmets are a recent acquisition that is a copy of the Ops-core Fast line of ballistic helmets. The manufacturer of these helmets even included a copy of the ballistic side protection that Ops-core originally manufactures. These mechanized Rangers carry the Colt M4s that replaced the Steyr AUGs. You can’t help but notice the progression in terms of equipment that the army infantrymen have made since the 1990s.
The unit that comes after them is the Army’s 10th Paratrooper Brigade. They are easily identifiable by their maroon berets. Right up front you can see their first line of troops wearing their field uniform and carrying an assortment of weapons. The one nearest to the camera is carrying an Accuracy International Arctic Warfare rifle and has a Colt M4 strapped to his field pack. He also has a pistol in a drop leg holster on his right thigh. Down the line you see some are carrying the Colt M4s with Aimpoint Comp M4 and a flip to the side mounted Aimpoint 3X magnifier. Further up is a trooper carrying the Colt M4 with the M203 underslung grenade launcher and FN Minimi Para light machine gun with a 200 round drum. Strapped behind them on their field packs are Spanish made Instalaza C90-CR disposable rocket propelled grenade launchers. Next in line seems to be a platoon that is donning a light ghillie or as some might call it a combat ghillie. It’s similar to wearing a hooded sweater and only covers the top half of the body. They too are seen here carrying the same array of weapons as the first line of troops. Curiously, the soldier closest to the camera is carrying both an Accuracy International AW rifle and an Instalaza C90-CR. Granted this may only be for the parade and not for when they’re deployed.
Behind this line is sniper platoon with Barrett M82 Anti-Materiel rifles. These soldiers are wearing the complete ghillie suit and interestingly enough are issued different colored boots as well. There seem to be 2 different variants of ghillie suits that they are issued. A heavier all encompassing suit that is darker in color and a lighter suit that seems to leave the front of the pants uncovered worn by the closest and farthest soldier in that line.
After the sniper platoon, the Paras have a line of their soldiers in their HALO/HAHO (High Altitude Low Opening/ High Altitude High Opening) gear. These soldiers like most of the rest are also carrying the Colt M4s.
You can always count on Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries to put their arsenal on display during these kinds of annual parades. This makes it easy to track their defense development programs. With the recent terrorist attacks in Marawi, Malaysia is equipping its forces with newer and better small arms in order to be prepared for any eventualities within the countries shores.
Photographs belong to Norzaidi Sham and Opie Harris.