Malaysian Special Operations Force

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Malaysian Armed Forces
Malaysian Army Flag of the Malaysian Army.svg
Royal Malaysian Navy Naval Ensign of Malaysia.svg
Royal Malaysian Air Force Ensign of the Royal Malaysian Air Force.svg
Military history of Malaysia
Related information
Awards & decorations
Special Operations Force
National service
Military manpower
Military age 18 years of age
Availability males age 16-49: 7,501,518
females age 16-49: 7,315,999
(2010 est.)
Fit For service males age 16-49: 6,247,306
females age 16-49: 6,175,274
(2010 est.)
Of age / year males: 265,008
females: 254,812
(2010 est.)
Military expenditure
Dollar figure $1.69 billion
(2000 est.)
% of GDP 2.03%

Source :
CIA World Factbook 2006
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Malaysian Special Operations Force (Malay: Pasukan Operasi Khusus Malaysia) is a multi service force tasked with a counter-terrorism mission. It consists of 10 Paratrooper Brigade, Grup Gerak Khas (GGK), Pasukan Khas Laut (PASKAL), Pasukan Khas Udara (PASKAU), Pasukan Gerakan Khas (PGK), Unit Gempur Marin (UNGERIN), Trup Tindakan Cepat (meaning: Rapid Actions Troops) and Special Task And Rescue (STAR).


The eight elements of Malaysia's Special Operations Force have been tasked with the important objective of maintaining Malaysia's security, specifically in combating terrorism. A mission especially important in the wake of the 11 September attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and in a climate of global terrorism which would see the later bombing of the tourist centre of Bali and the J.W. Marriot Hotel in Jakarta, bombings and murders in Southern Thailand and the bomb explosions in the railway stations and transit systems of Madrid and London. Malaysia's security agencies eagerly studied the lessons to be learnt from all such incidents so as to prepare to deal with similar terrorism, in the event that the terrorists agenda should see them target the Malaysian homeland. In November 2003 Malaysia passed new counter-terrorism laws that were widely criticised by local human rights groups for being vague and excessively broad. Critics claim that the laws put the basic rights of free expression, association, and assembly at risk. Malaysia persisted in holding around 100 alleged militants without trial, including five Malaysian students detained for alleged terrorist activity while studying in Karachi, Pakistan.[1] Malaysia maintains a high level of security and to date no similar terrorist atrocities have occurred.

Previously the only incidents with possible links to Islamic terrorism have been the detonation of a small bomb in Kuala Lumpur's Puduraya bus station and more significantly the 2000 Sauk raid[2] by Al-Ma'unah militants, an audacious raid to steal weapons from a military base to arm an Islamic insurrection.[3] This attempted insurrection was swiftly defeated, the result of the close co-operation and relationship of the government, private agencies and society as a whole. A co-operation and relationship born from the initiatives that from 1948 to 1989 defeated the communist insurgents of the Malayan Emergency and the later Communist Insurgency War. The Malaysian peoples eager not to suffer for a third time in their history a repeat of the previous insurgencies and terrorism.

In assessing the tactics, strength, equipment, personnel and abilities as a whole of these Malaysian special forces, they are the equal in competence with the special forces teams of Indonesia, Britain and the United States. In fact, since being raised Malaysian forces have been involved with such teams on an international level, for example whilst being part of United Nations peace keeping missions.



10 Paratrooper Brigade[edit]

Paratroopers board the USS Tortuga during the CARAT Malaysia 2006 with U.S forces.
Commandos of GGK on standby during the 56th National Day Parade.

10 Paratrooper Brigade is an elite rapid deployment brigade which is a branch of Malaysian Army. This was then merged by other infantry elements including 3 battalions, 1 artillery regiment, 1 armour squadron and 11 supporting units.

While primarily tasked with rapid deployment, it is also involved in the fight against terrorism but in a different manner. This is because the operational tasks for the 10th Para involves the convergence of conventional warfare tactics requiring a high number of personnel and equipment. This includes amphibian warfare and airborne operations, just to name a few. 10 Para is not considered as a special operations unit. The paratrooper force consists of male and some female paratroopers.

Grup Gerak Khas[edit]

The Grup Gerak Khas (English: Special Service Group) is the main entity element in Malaysian Army. It is basically a commando regiment in the Malaysian Army Corps. The mission of the GGK is to provide a squadron to locate, report, harass and disrupt the enemy through long range infiltration as well as operating in close collaboration with guerrilla or partisan forces. GGK will also plan, prepare for, and when directed, deploy to conduct unconventional warfare, internal defence, special reconnaissance and direct actions etc. in support of Government policy objectives within designated areas of responsibility.

GGK continuously trains to conduct unconventional warfare in any of its forms – Guerrilla / Anti-Guerrilla Warfare, Escape and Evasion, Subversion, Sabotage, Counter-Terrorist and their most highly regarded expertise – Jungle Warfare. They have a great reputation in operations against the communist terrorists. The troopers are also schooled in direct action operations and special reconnaissance. Currently, there are 3 fully equipped regiments (21st, 22nd & 11th GGK). GGK had seen action in Cambodia, Somalia, western Sahara, Namibia and Bosnia among others. Most recently GGK has also been involved with peacekeeping missions in Lebanon and East Timor.


PASKAL which are trained by KOPASKA, Royal Marines and Navy SEALs is an Malaysia's No.1 Special Force.

The Royal Malaysian Navy also has an elite forces to secure the Malaysian maritime especially Malacca Straits from intruders and the terrorist groups. The unit is known as an Naval Special Warfare Forces (Malay: Pasukan Khas Laut, a.k.a. PASKAL) by its Malay acronym in year 1980. The unit was established using commando-trained officers and men from the Security Regiment. The first batch were trained by Komando Pasukan Katak or called KOPASKA, the naval special forces from Indonesia. In first establishment in the year 1975, the role of this team is similarly with coast guard whereby it was assigned to secure the RMN vessels, and the beach which near with forest which can bared from some desertions the smugglers which able to escaped to next country on the sea.

However, the UK Royal Marines Commando and US Navy SEALs are restructured the PASKAL forces. Some PASKAL operators have also been sent to the SEALs training center. PASKAL now is a highly competent special forces unit with responsibilities to secured all strategic areas and now conducting in other counter-terrorism operations in cargo shipments, oil rigs and the terrain. Some of its personnel are stationed in man-made 'islands' in the Spratlys and in strategic areas within the country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). PASKAL is equipped with the latest hi-tech weaponry as they are also funded by a group of oil consortium (one of the PASKAL's main missions is to protect oil rigs in Malaysian waters) and shipping companies.


The Royal Malaysian Air Force once had a special operations force which abilities to secure the RMAF strategic airbase which known as Air Special Forces (Malay: Pasukan Khas Udara, PASKAU). In first establishment, the name of this unit is known as HANDAU (Air and Land Defense, Malay: Pertahanan Darat dan Udara) and that a moment it was not had the role as the counter-terrorism units. The tentative "special forces" designation is probably due to the unit's airborne capability. This units is established when after the covert attacks to RMAF strategic amenities in Sungai Besi by agents of Malayan Communist Party.

With the very important requirement level as the special forces were given to the unit for secure the amenity and RMAF airbase and also civil airport including Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) if it needed if earned some attacker and hijacker to RMAF owned amenity and military aircraft or civil aircraft, under the Directive No.18 National Defense Council (Malay: Arahan 18 Majlis Keselamatan Negara). The GGK army commando were also roped in to join this unit at is formations. Nowadays, PASKAU had the three branches including Flight Hostage Rescue Team (Malay: Skuad Udara Penyelamat Tebusan, tasked on Counter-Terrorist force), Combat Air Rescue Team (Malay: Skuadron Penyelamat Tempur Udara – SPTU, CSAR task) and Force Protection Teams (Malay: Skuadron Kawalan Medan – SKM, Air Base protections task). The unit conducted with special training technic and rescue missions, especially rescue operations the downed pilot behind the enemy lines or hostile territory, but they much more was very popular with life-saving services to the civilians (courtesy flights etc.). Other than that, PASKAU may also search and eliminate enemy troops who execute sabotage against RMAF air bases.

(Note: All special operations force of Malaysian Armed Forces was involved with the Malaysian UN force in Lebanon.)

Law enforcement[edit]

Pasukan Gerakan Khas[edit]

PGK operators on CQC drill.

In those days of communist insurgency, the Royal Malaysian Police had a paramilitary arm called Pasukan Polis Hutan (PPH). They had several battalions and among them was the elite one, known as 69 Commando Battalion or VAT 69. It was actually formed in 1969 (hence the name – 69). The normal police too had an elite unit – Unit Tindakan Khas (UTK). UTK had a SWAT-like function as well as close protection roles. After the communist terrorist laid down arms in 1989, VAT 69 had problems finding a proper role. Finally on October 1997, the PPH was renamed as Pasukan Gerakan Am (PGA) while UTK and 69th Commando Battalion was merged. It was then called Pasukan Gerakan Khas (PGK).

All officers and mens of PGK were ever conduct the special training from United States (besides Germany GSG-9, Australia, Britain and New Zealand SAS) including special investigators, counter-terrorist experts, risk, special demolitions, airborne and much more. The PGK police counter-terrorist ever involved in anti-terror operations in Malaysia, exampled the arms rebellions from Al Ma'unah terrorist militia led by Mohamed Amin Razali. The police special force which together with Grup Gerak Khas were success to tracked down the rebellion as well as involved to arrested suspected of Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist groups who involved the 9/11 attacks and Bali bombing. Beside that, the unit were also take over the 10 Para and GGK duties in Timor Leste after the terrorism in the country is calmed down.


The UNGERIN anti-terror operatives on patrol with MP5A3.

The Marine Combat Unit or UNGERIN is a newly maritime anti-terror special forces which established in March 2006 and there were under control to marine police of RMP. Very different with other Malaysian special forces, the UNGERIN is only one special force in Malaysia which trained by the United States (all special forces of Malaysia is regularly trained with foreign special forces including the Special Air Service Regiments of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and a number of US services). The unit which special trained by 69 Commando and US Navy SEALs were tasked to secure the Malaysia maritime especially Malacca Straits and Sulu Sea from some threats in the seabed, especially the piracy activities or smugglers and cooperations with naval elite units and coast guard.[4]

Rapid Actions Troops[edit]

The Rapid Actions Troops, or Trup Tindakan Cepat, is a new Prison Department anti-terror special forces squad, which was established on 3 October, 2005 and operates under control of the Malaysian Prison Department. Formed with 20 members that had undergone three months training at the Special Warfare Training Centre (PULPAK) in Sungai Udang Fort, Malacca by 11th Rejimen Gerak Khas Counter-Terrorist Regiment for dealing with terrorist threats and riot which occurred inside the jails in Malaysia.

With the formation of this team, the Prisons Department was able to carry out escort tasks without police assistance, escorting prisoners that are listed as high profile criminal records to detention centres. When the conditions needed, the team is also used to assist the other Malaysian special forces to counter-terrorism missions.

Special Task and Rescue[edit]

The Special Task And Rescue (Malay: Pasukan Tindakan Khas dan Penyelamat Maritime) or STAR team is the official coast guard special forces of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency which established to protect local maritime assets, especially Straits of Malacca. The commando initials was formerly trained by Air Force PASKAU and formed in 25 April 2005, STARs is trained to be a first responder to potential terrorist situations; deny terrorist acts; perform security actions against non-compliant actors; perform tactical facility entry and enforcement; participate in port level counterterrorism exercises; and educate other forces on Coast Guard counterterrorism procedures.

STARs are a quick response force capable of rapid nationwide deployment via air, ground or sea transportation in response to changing threat conditions. Multi-mission capability facilitates augmentation for other selected Coast Guard missions. The STAR's purpose is to develop systems and processes for standardised training, equipment, organisation, planning, and scheduling of rapidly deployable specialised forces to execute mission objectives in support of tactical and operational commanders.

Joint Anti-Terror Task Forces[edit]

Currently, when undercontrol of Arahan 18 Majlis Keselamatan Negara (MKN) or Directive No.18 National Security Council, there are several units distinguished as Special Operations Force, namely;

  1. Grup Gerak Khas (Army)
  2. PASKAL (Navy)
  3. PASKAU (Air Force)
  4. 69 Commando PGK (Police)
  5. Special Actions Unit PGK (Police)
  6. UNGERIN (Police)
  7. Trup Tindakan Cepat (Prison Department)
  8. Special Task And Rescue (Coast Guard)

Discussion had been ongoing that instead of having seven separate units, there should be an initiative to combine all 8 into one organised unit as Malaysian Special Operation Forces or Joint Special Services Regiment.

A successful SAS model based on UK, New Zealand and Australia experience should be taken into a view. In matters relating to national security issue of these countries, the only recognised SAS Regiments will be the choice in order to neutralise the conflict.

Under so called concept of 'Joint Services Special Forces', the great seven units can be combined together as one regiment headed by a major general/vice air chief marshal/vice admiral or even a deputy commissioner of police. This unit should be placed under matrix organisation as to report directly to MKN and to each respected Chief of Army, Navy, Airforce and Inspector General of Police.

Within the joint unit, all seven units can be re-organised as per SAS models such as;

  1. Mountain/Land Troop (including/combining all specialised skills/unit acquired by the former Army Grup Gerak Khas, Police VAT 69 Pasukan Gerakan Khas);
  2. Amphibious/Maritime Troop (including/combining all PASKAL specialised trade in seaborne operations, swamp, diving plus etc. together with UNGERIN);
  3. Air Troop (including/combining all PASKAU specialised trade in hostage rescue at the airport or aircraft, air installation protection and also taking over PARA troops facility and training of the HALO/HAHO from Grup Gerak Khas etc.).
  4. Counter Revolutionary Warfare and Counter Terrorist Unit (including/combining skills from GGK, PGK, PASKAL, UNGERIN, TTC and PASKAU to form a several units, with 24 hours standby notice by the MKN. The example of this is Blue Troop and Red Troop of the British SAS that are on 24 hours standby notice.)

The unification of these several units into one special unit does have its benefits and its disadvantages. However, in matters of serving the country, all differences including/especially the self pride should be resolved amicably. Some are the benefits should these units are united into one force;

  1. Joint selection process can be achieved to obtain the best candidate from all Services and also from Police (such as New Zealand SAS)to ensure the highest quality of future unit trooper.
  2. The cost of doing business or maintaining the forces will be much lesser and the saved money can be further invested on new weaponry, new tactics, high tech facilities, staff welfare etc.
  3. The expertise of each respected unit can be cross sectionalised and documented to ensure every trooper is highly specialised in his craft or even better multi-skilled. The future is to sell the 'Malaysian expertise' to other country as to how SAS UK did as part of the marketing of British defence product and experties.
  4. Economies of scales in asset management and procurement in the long run as to have a highly dedicated special forces and also to keep the cost low or manageable.

As to ensure the present of each services is equally exhibited, the head of each new unit can be divided as below;

  1. Commanding officer of the Mountain/Land Troop – Brigadier General (Army)
  2. Commanding officer of the Amphibious/Maritime Troop – Commodore (Navy)
  3. Commanding officer of Air Troop – Brigadier General (Airforce)
  4. Commanding officer of CRW/AT Unit – Senior Assistant Commissioner (Police)

However the officer and the NCOs can be cross sectionalised with each other based on his best achievement of his specialised skills or where he can performed the best.


Active use[edit]

Arms Origin Type Caliber Notes
M203  USA Grenade Launcher 40x46mm
HK AG36  Germany Grenade Launcher 40x46mm used by PASKAL
HK MG4  Germany Machine Gun 5.56x45mm NATO used by PASKAL
FN Minimi  Belgium Machine Gun 7.62x51mm NATO used by 10 Para, GGK and PASKAU
RC-50F  USA Anti-material Rifle 12.7x99mm NATO used by PASKAL
M14 sniper  USA Sniper Rifle 7.62x51mm NATO used by PASKAL
HK PSG-1  Germany Sniper Rifle 7.62x51mm NATO used by police special forces
HK MSG-90  Germany Sniper Rifle 7.62x51mm NATO used by military special forces
Blaser 93 Tactical  Germany Sniper Rifle 7.62x51mm NATO used by military special forces
Barrett M95  USA Anti-material Rifle 12.7x99mm NATO used by GGK
Barrett M107  USA Anti-material Rifle 12.7x99mm NATO used by PASKAU
AMP DSR-1  Germany Sniper Rifle 7.62x51mm NATO
AWM  UK Sniper Rifle .338 Lapua Magnum used by PGK
AW  UK Sniper Rifle 7.62x51mm NATO used by other special forces
SIG SG 553   Switzerland Carbine 5.56x45mm NATO used by GGK, PASKAU, UNGERIN and STAR
HK XM8  Germany Carbine 5.56x45mm NATO used by PASKAL[5]
HK416  Germany Carbine 5.56x45mm NATO used by PASKAL and PGK
HK G36  Germany Carbine 5.56x45mm NATO used by PASKAL and PGK
Colt M16A1  USA Assault rifle 5.56x45mm NATO
Colt M4 Carbine  USA Carbine 5.56x45mm NATO
HK UMP9  Germany Submachine Gun 9x19mm NATO used by PASKAL, PGK and STAR
HK MP7A1  Germany Personal defence weapon 4.6x30mm used by PASKAL and PGK
MP5 series  Germany Submachine Gun 9x19mm NATO used by other special forces
FN P90  Belgium Personal defence weapon 5.7x28mm used by PASKAL
Remington 870  USA Shotgun 12 Bore used by other special forces
Remington 1100  USA Shotgun 12 Bore used by other special forces
Mossberg 500  USA Shotgun 12 Bore used by other special forces
Franchi SPAS-12  Italy Shotgun 12 Bore used by GGK and PGK
Benelli M4 Super 90  Italy Shotgun 12 Bore used by PASKAU
Benelli M3 Super 90  Italy Shotgun 12 Bore used by PGK
Sphinx 3000   Switzerland Pistol 9x19mm NATO used by PASKAU
S&W M&P 9  USA Pistol 9x19mm NATO used by TTC
SIG P226   Switzerland Pistol 9x19mm NATO used by 10 Para, GGK and STAR
HK USP9 Tactical  Germany Pistol 9x19mm NATO used by PGK
HK Mark 23  Germany Pistol .45 ACP used by PGK
Glock  Austria Pistol 9x19mm NATO
Colt M1911A1  USA Pistol .45 ACP used by 10 Para, GGK and PGK
Beretta 92  Italy Pistol 9x19mm NATO used by 10 Para and GGK

Phased out[edit]

Arms Origin Type Caliber Notes
M79  USA Grenade Launcher 40x46mm used by PASKAL
M60E2  USA Machine Gun 7.62x51mm NATO used by PASKAL
Steyr AUG  Austria Assault Rifle 5.56x45mm NATO
Carbon 15  USA Carbine 5.56x45mm NATO
CAR-15  USA Carbine 5.56x45mm NATO
AK-102  Russia Assault Rifle 5.56x45mm NATO used by PASKAL

See also[edit]