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21st Special Service Group

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21st Special Service Group
21 Gerup Gerak Khas
The 21st Special Service Group's beret backing.
Founded1 August 1970; 53 years ago (1970-08-01)
Country Malaysia
Branch Malaysian Army
TypeSpecial forces command
Part of Malaysian Armed Forces
HeadquartersSri Iskandar Camp, Johor
Nickname(s)"21 GGK", "GGK", "Grup Gerak Khas" (Bahasa Indonesia), "21st Special Forces Group"
Colours   Jungle Green and Caribbean Blue
MarchGerak Khas
Mascot(s)Malayan tiger
Anniversaries1 August
Commanders
Current
commander
Major General Ahmad Shuhaimi Mat Wajab
Colonel-in-chiefSultan Ibrahim Ismail of Johor
Notable
commanders
Borhan Ahmad, Zaini Mohd Said SP, Awie Suboh, Adi Ridzwan Abdullah
Insignia
Tactical formation patches

The 21st Special Service Group (Abbr.: 21 SSG, Malay: 21 Gerup Gerak Khas), also known as the Grup Gerak Khas[note 1][1] and the 21st Special Forces Group, serves as the command for the Malaysian Army's special forces, the Gerak Khas. 21 SSG is a fighting formation within the Malaysian Army. This unit operate independently[note 2] under the Malaysian Army and directly report to the Chief of Army. The headquarters of the 21 SSG are located at Sri Iskandar Camp in Mersing, Johor.

Major General Ahmad Shuhaimi Mat Wajab has assumed command of the 21 SSG, succeeding Major General Mohd Adi Ridzwan on 10 May 2024.[2]

History[edit]

The 21st Special Service Group, formerly known as Rejimen Pertama Gerak Khas Malaysia or the 1st Malaysian Special Service Regiment, was founded on 1 August 1970, at Sungai Udang Camp in Malacca.[note 3] This unit directly succeeded the Malaysian Army's special operations task force, the Malaysian Special Service Unit, and served as the spiritual successor to Malaysia's first modern special forces unit, the Malayan Special Forces.[note 4][3][4][5]

Background[edit]

Following the conclusion of the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation in 1966, the army command contemplated disbanding the Malaysian Special Service Unit (MSSU). The MSSU, stationed at Sebatang Karah Camp in Negeri Sembilan, was a task force whose members were all commando-trained but belonged to their respective regiments or corps, including some sailors from the Royal Malaysian Navy.[4][6]

In 1969, the 13 May incident occurred, leading to the MSSU's deployment to Kuala Lumpur to safeguard the weapon depot within Mindef Camp (Malay: Kem Kementah). The MSSU also collaborated with the Royal Malaysia Police's Special Branch to apprehend leaders of gangs and triads who had played a role in the racial tensions behind the scenes during the incident. The crisis was short-lived due to the swift response of both units, prompting the leadership to decide against disbanding the MSSU.[4][6]

Established as the 1st Malaysian Special Service Regiment[edit]

The Malaysian Army established the 1st Malaysian Special Service Regiment (1 MSSR) in 1 August 1970 to succeed the MSSU. As a task force, MSSU members remained accountable to their original units. To address this, by 1973, MSSU members desiring to join the special forces unit had to resign from their original units and volunteer to enlist in the 1 MSSR.[5]

In the mid-1970s, responding to the swift expansion of the Malaysian Army's special forces, the 2nd Malaysian Special Service Regiment (2 MSSR) was formed.[7][5] Additionally, in 1975, the Special Warfare Training Centre (SWTC) was established to provide Gerak Khas with commando and special operations training. Given its seniority, members of the 1 MSSR were selected as instructors at SWTC.[6][8]

Separated from the 1st Malaysian Special Service Regiment[edit]

On 4 April 1980, the Malaysian Army separated the command of special forces from the 1 MSSR by establishing the Malaysian Special Service Command (Malay: Markas Gerak Khas) at Imphal Camp in Kuala Lumpur. Meanwhile, the 1 MSSR and 2 MSSR continued to function as combat units. Subsequently, on 1 April 1981, the Malaysian Army renamed the Malaysian Special Service Command to the Malaysian Special Service Group (MSSG). Concurrently, the 1 MSSR was renamed the 21st Para Commando Regiment, and the 2 MSSR became the 22nd Para Commando Regiment.[6][8]

Simultaneously, two new counter-revolutionary warfare and military intelligence units were formed: the 11th Special Service Regiment (11 SSR) and the 12th Special Service Regiment (12 SSR), with the purpose of providing specialised support to the Para Commando regiments. In December 1981, numerous support units were established to provide additional combat support to the combat units under MSSG. However, in 1983, the 12 SSR was disbanded, and the 11 SSR was no longer exclusively assigned to the 21st Para Commando Regiment.[6][8]

Renamed to the 21st Special Service Group[edit]

In 1985, the MSSG underwent a name change and became the 21st Special Service Group as part of the Malaysian Army's initiative to standardise unit names and formalise the unit as the 21st brigade within the army. This restructuring also involved renaming units under the command of the 21 SSG. The 21st Para Commando Regiment was re-designated as the 21st Commando Regiment, and the 22nd Para Commando Regiment became the 22nd Commando Regiment.[6][8]

Additionally, the 21st Engineering Squadron of the 21 SSG, now known as the 10th Squadron (Parachute), Royal Engineer Regiment was decommissioned from the 21 SSG in 1986 and transferred to the Malaysian Army's 3rd Infantry Division. The Special Warfare Training Centre was placed under the command of the Malaysian Army Training and Doctrine Command.[6][8]

Formations[edit]

As a nation that is part of the Commonwealth, the Malaysian military adheres to the traditions of the British Armed Forces. In the case of the 21st Special Service Group, they adopt the structure of the British Special Air Service, employing the term 'sabre squadron' instead of 'company', unlike other units within the Malaysian Army.[6]

1970–1980[edit]

1980–1981[edit]

  • Malaysian Special Service Command
    • 1st Malaysian Special Service Regiment
    • 2nd Malaysian Special Service Regiment
    • Special Warfare Training Centre

1981–1983[edit]

1983–1985[edit]

  • Malaysian Special Service Group
    • Garrison Command
    • 11th Counter-revolutionary Warfare Regiment
    • 21st Para Commando Regiment
    • 22nd Para Commando Regiment
    • 21st Signals Squadron, Malaysian Signals Regiment
    • 21st Composite Company, Malaysian Service Corps
    • 21st Ordnance Company, Malaysian Ordnance Corps
    • 21st Military Police Company, Malaysian Military Police Corps
    • 21st Workshop Company, Malaysian Corps of Electrical & Mechanical Engineers
    • Armed Forces Payroll Affairs Company, Malaysian General Service Corps
    • Special Warfare Training Centre

1985–2022[edit]

  • 21st Special Service Group
    • Garrison Command
    • 11th Special Service Regiment
    • 21st Commando Regiment
    • 22nd Commando Regiment
    • 21st Signals Squadron, Royal Signals Regiment
    • 21st Composite Company, Royal Service Corps
    • 21st Ordnance Company, Royal Ordnance Corps
    • 21st Military Police Company Royal Military Police Corps
    • 21st Workshop Squadron, Corps of Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers
    • Armed Forces Payroll Affairs Company, General Service Corps

Current formations[edit]

21 SSG's Current Organisational Structure
21st Special Service Group
Unit's name (English) Unit's name (Bahasa Malaysia) Abbreviation Beret backing Headquarters Specialty and purpose
11th Special Service Regiment 11 Rejimen Gerak Khas 11 SSR Sungai Udang Camp The 11th Special Service Regiment stands as a top-tier special forces unit within the Malaysian Army and is one of the three combat units under the 21 SSG.

Referred to as the 11 Unit Lawan Keganasan (Abbr.: 11 ULK), or the 11th Counter Terrorism Unit in English, its duties encompass counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, close protection, and special reconnaissance.

21st Commando Regiment Rejimen 21 Komando 21 Cdo Sungai Udang Camp The 21st Commando Regiment (21 CDO) is one of the three combat units within the 21 SSG.

Specialising in traditional special forces roles, the 21 CDO distinguishes itself by emphasising airborne operations, in contrast to the 22nd Commando Regiment. Its capabilities encompass unconventional warfare, direct action, counter-insurgency and special reconnaissance.

22nd Commando Regiment Rejimen 22 Komando 22 Cdo Sri Iskandar Camp The 22nd Commando Regiment is among the three combat units within the 21 SSG. Undergoing a restructuring in 2009, the 22 CDO now places a greater emphasis on amphibious operations compared to its previous specialisation in mountain warfare.

Like the 21 CDO, its responsibilities encompass unconventional warfare, direct action, counter-insurgency, and special reconnaissance. Additionally, it has taken on a new role in anti-piracy.[9]

Garrison Headquarters Markas Garison Mk Garison Sri Iskandar Camp The Mk Garrison is a company-sized unit that provides administrative support to assist the 21 SSG in its administration.
21st Logistics Group 21 Kumpulan Logistik 21 Kump Log Sri Iskandar Camp The 21 Kump Log is a specialised unit that supports combat operations for the 21 SSG by providing services like military logistics.

Formed in 2017, it is one of the newest units alongside the 21 Medic. Merging service support companies from the 21 SSG created the 21 Kump Log, resulting in three squadrons: the Royal Ordnance Corps' 21st Materials Squadron, the Royal Service Corps' Logistics Service Squadron, and the Royal Service Corps' 21st Workshop Squadron.[10]

21st Signals Squadron, Royal Signals Regiment 21 Skuadron Semboyan Diraja 21 SSD Sri Iskandar Camp The 21 SSD is a special operations combat support unit tasked with providing communication support to all units under the command of the 21 SSG.
21st Medic Squadron 21 Skuadron Medik 21 Medic Sri Iskandar Camp The 21 Medic is a special operations support unit assigned to provide medical support to all units under the command of the 21 SSG. Alongside the 21st Logistics Group, established in 2017, these are the newest units of the 21 SSG.

Its duties include supplying special operations combat medics and delivering medical care to all special forces members and their families at army camps occupied by the 21 SSG.

21st Company, Royal Military Police Corps 21 Kompeni Polis Tentera Diraja 21 KPTD Sri Iskandar Camp The 21 KPTD is a military police unit responsible for law enforcement within the 21 SSG and Sri Iskandar Camp.
21 SSG's Intelligence Cell, Royal Intelligence Corps Sel Risik 21 GGK Sri Iskandar Camp This unit manages military intelligence operations, overseeing the careful dissemination of information within the 21 SSG to avoid leaks.

Family welfare support[edit]

The 21 SSG's BAKAT manages family welfare support for the 21st Special Service Group. The spouse of the Commander of 21 SSG leads the organisation, with the commander serving as its patron.

Uniforms and insignia[edit]

Green beret[edit]

Members of Gerak Khas inherit the green beret and Fairbairn–Sykes fighting knife as a symbol of commando qualification, a tradition adopted from the Royal Marines Commando. This practice originated when the initial group underwent commando training at the British Army Jungle Warfare Training School with the 40 Commando Royal Marines.[note 6] Unlike the British Armed Forces or the U.S. Army, where only those who have completed the Basic Commando Course[note 7] or the United States Army Special Forces selection and training are authorised to wear the green beret,[note 8] all members of the 21 SSG wear the green beret, irrespective of Basic Commando Course completion.[6]

Members who have successfully completed the Basic Commando Course have the option to wear their unit's beret backing (Malaysian renditions of the U.S. military beret flash) to distinguish themselves from non-commando-trained members.[6] As of 2023, only those who have passed the Malaysian Special Forces Selection are allowed to don the green beret. Other members of the 21 SSG who have not yet passed the selection process continue to wear their original unit berets.[11]

Shoulder sleeve insignia[edit]

Shoulder sleeve insignia of the 21st Special Service Group. Worn from the 1980s to the present.

Number 5 uniform (Combat uniform)[edit]

The insignia, alternatively referred to as a tactical formation patch (Malay: Lencana formasi taktikal), is affixed to the combat uniform and bears olive and black colours. The patch prominently showcases a roaring tiger's head with a commando dagger positioned at the centre.

Number 2 uniform (Bush jacket)[edit]

The personnel of the 21 SSG don their command insignia on the left shoulder sleeve of their number 2 uniform. The 21 SSG shoulder sleeve insignia closely resembles the beret backing but incorporates a distinct black outline. This current design draws inspiration from the insignia of the Malaysian Special Service Unit, featuring a striking depiction of a roaring tiger's head with a commando dagger at the centre. The background is a fusion of jungle green and Caribbean blue, where jungle green signifies commando specialities and serves as a representation of the colour of Islam, while Caribbean blue pays homage to the founder, 40 Commando Royal Marines.[12]

Stable belt[edit]

Members of the 21 SSG don the number 3 uniform (work dress) paired with a green and light blue stable belt.

Commanders[edit]

Since the establishment of the Malaysian Special Service Unit in 1965, 22 individuals have served as the Commander of Gerak Khas, also known as the Panglima Gerak Khas (lit.'Commander of Special Forces') in Malay. Out of these 22 individuals, 17 have held the position of the Commander of the 21st Special Service Group (Malay: Panglima 21 Gerup Gerak Khas), which was created after 1981.[13]

Commander of the 21st Special Service Group[edit]

The position begins after the Malaysian Special Service Command was renamed to the Malaysian Special Service Group on 1 April 1981.[14]

No. Portrait Commander of the 21 SSG Took office Left office Time in office Ref.
1
Dato' Harun Taib
HarunBrigadier General
Dato' Harun Taib
1 January 198031 December 19833 years, 364 daysHe retired as a Brigadier General; he previously held the position of the Commander of the 21 SSG
2
Dato' Borhan Ahmad
BorhanBrigadier General
Dato' Borhan Ahmad
1 January 198418 December 19851 year, 351 daysHe retired as a General; he previously held the position of the 12th Chief of Defence Forces
3
Datuk Hasbullah Yusof
HasbullahBrigadier General
Datuk Hasbullah Yusof
19 December 198530 June 19893 years, 193 daysWhile in service, he met a tragic end in a helicopter crash on 8 December 1989. At the time, he held the rank of Brigadier General and served as the Commander of the 3rd Infantry Brigade
4
Dato’ Mohd Ramli Ismail
Mohd RamliBrigadier General
Dato’ Mohd Ramli Ismail
1 July 19892 March 19933 years, 244 daysHe retired as a Major General; he previously held the position of the Commander of the Malaysian Army Training and Doctrine Command. Died on 13 November 2011
5
Dato’ Ghazali Ibrahim
GhazaliBrigadier General
Dato’ Ghazali Ibrahim
3 March 19932 November 19952 years, 243 daysHe retired as a Major General; he previously held the position of the Commander of the Malaysian Army Training and Doctrine Command
6
Dato' Daud Ariffin
DaudBrigadier General
Dato' Daud Ariffin
3 November 1995--He retired as a Brigadier General; he previously held the position of the Commander of the 21 SSG
7
Dato' Ahmad Rodi Zakaria
Ahmad RodiBrigadier General
Dato' Ahmad Rodi Zakaria
---He retired as a Major General; he previously held the position of the Commander of the Malaysian Army Training and Doctrine Command
8
Dato' Awie Suboh
AwieBrigadier General
Dato' Awie Suboh
1 September 200628 July 20092 years, 330 daysHe retired as a Lieutenant General; he previously held the position of the Commander of the 1st Infantry Division
9
Dato' Abdul Samad Yaacob
Abdul SamadBrigadier General
Dato' Abdul Samad Yaacob
29 July 20092012-He retired as a Major General; he previously held the position of the Assistant Chief-of-Staff of Malaysian Army Planning and Development
10
Dato' Harun Hitam
HarunBrigadier General
Dato' Harun Hitam
2012--He retired as a Brigadier General; he previously held the position of the Commander of the 21 SSG
11
Dato' Affendy Abd Karim
AffendyBrigadier General
Dato' Affendy Abd Karim
-14 December 2016-He retired as a Brigadier General; he previously held the position of the Commander of the 21 SSG
12
Datuk Zolkopli Hashim
ZolkopliMajor General
Datuk Zolkopli Hashim
15 December 201622 November 2017342 daysHe retired as a Major General; he previously held the position of the Commander of the 21 SSG[15]
13
Datuk Hasan Ali
HasanLieutenant General
Datuk Hasan Ali
23 November 201719 July 20202 years, 239 daysHe retired as a Lieutenant General; he previously held the position of the Commander of the 21 SSG[16]
14
Datuk Jamaluddin Jambi
JamaluddinMajor General
Datuk Jamaluddin Jambi
20 July 20205 September 20211 year, 47 daysHe retired as a Major General; he previously held the position of the Commander of the 21 SSG[13]
15
Nubli Hashim
NubliMajor General
Nubli Hashim
6 September 202114 May 20231 year, 250 daysHe retired as a Major General; he previously held the position of the Commander of the 21 SSG[13]
16
Mohd Adi Ridzwan Abdullah
Mohd Adi RidzwanMajor General
Mohd Adi Ridzwan Abdullah
15 May 202310 May 2024361 daysHe retired as a Major General; he previously held the position of the Commander of the 21 SSG[17]
17
Ahmad Shuhaimi Mat Wajab
Ahmad ShuhaimiMajor General
Ahmad Shuhaimi Mat Wajab
11 May 2024Incumbent40 days[18][2]

Lineage[edit]

1960 1965 1970 1980 Separated 1981 Name changes 1985 Name changes
Malayan Special Forces Malaysian Special Service Unit 1st Malaysian Special Service Regiment Malaysian Special Service Command Malaysian Special Service Group 21st Special Service Group
1st Malaysian Special Service Regiment 21st Para Commando Regiment 21st Commando Regiment

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ This unit is also known in Bahasa Indonesian spelling as "Grup Gerak Khas", where "group" translates to "Grup" in Indonesian. The official Malay spelling is "Gerup".
  2. ^ Did not fall under the command of either the eastern or western field commands.
  3. ^ The Malaysian Special Service Unit (MSSU) was a temporary special operations task force, not a permanent unit within the Malaysian Armed Forces. Established in 1965 at Majidee Camp, Johor, the MSSU was later replaced by a permanent unit, the 1st Special Service Regiment, founded in 1970 at Sungai Udang Camp, Malacca.
  4. ^ Several older modern special forces units, such as the Malayan Scouts, were established in the region now known as Malaysia. However, the British created these units in Malaysia, while post-independence Malaya formed the Malayan Special Forces.
  5. ^ The 1st Malaysian Special Service Regiment also serves as the Malaysian Army's special operations command at the time.
  6. ^ The British Army Jungle Warfare Training School was located in Johor at the time.
  7. ^ Non-commando qualified Royal Marines wear a dark blue beret, whereas non-commando qualified British Army soldiers wear their original unit headdress.
  8. ^ Soldiers assigned to the U.S. Army Special Forces who are not Special Forces-qualified wear a maroon beret. This is because the 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) is also designated as an airborne unit.

References[edit]

  1. ^ TNI AD (2023-09-23), "Latihan Bersama "Harimau Satya" Indonesia-Malaysia", Kartika Channel⁣ (in Indonesian), Youtube, retrieved 2024-01-17
  2. ^ a b "Major General Ahmad Shuhaimi Mat Wajab Assumes Command Of 21 GGK In Port Dickson". Malaysia Military Times. 10 May 2024. Retrieved 13 May 2024.
  3. ^ Tan Siew Soo, Lt Col (Rtd) (2020-08-03). "Remembering Malaysia's first special forces mission". The Star. Archived from the original on 2020-10-06. Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  4. ^ a b c Ahmad Ridzuan Wan Chik (2011). Rejimen Gerak Khas: Pasukan Khusus Tentera Darat Malaysia (in Malay). Kuala Lumpur: Utusan Publications. ISBN 978-9-67612-522-4.
  5. ^ a b c Arikrishnan, Vijay Gaundar (2017-08-01). "52 Tahun RGK Menjadi Pasukan Elit TD". Berita Tentera Darat Malaysia (in Malay). Archived from the original on 2021-01-18. Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Shamsul Afkar bin Abd Rahman (June 2013). History of Special Operations Forces in Malaysia (Thesis). Monterey, CA: Naval Postgraduate School.
  7. ^ Aliza Minai Rajab. "08/06/1957 - PERASMIAN KEM REJIMEN PERSEKUTUAN SUNGAI UDANG". hariinidalamsejarah.com (in Malay). National Archives of Malaysia. Archived from the original on 2021-09-12. Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  8. ^ a b c d e Buku Jubli Emas GGK ke-50 (in Malay). Kuala Lumpur: Pusat Teknologi Maklumat Tentera Darat. 2015.
  9. ^ "APMM, Rejimen 22 Komando gempur pengganas di perairan Pulau Tinggi". Air Times News Network (in Malay). 2022-10-21. Retrieved 2024-01-17.
  10. ^ Ainur Aisyah Yahaya (2017-07-21). "Enam Dekad KOD Bersama TD". Berita Tentera Darat Malaysia (in Malay). Archived from the original on 2021-01-24. Retrieved 2021-11-04.
  11. ^ "Perbarisan Hari Ulang Tahun Rejimen Gerak Khas ke-58", Air Times News Network (in Malay), Youtube, 2023-08-01, retrieved 2024-01-17
  12. ^ WRA (2017-05-04). "Harimau Berjuang". The Patriots (in Malay). Archived from the original on 2021-01-26. Retrieved 2021-11-05.
  13. ^ a b c Mohammad Shukri Suhaimi (2021-09-06). "Mej Jen Nubli Hj Hashim Panglima 21 GGK Baharu". Berita Tentera Darat Malaysia (in Malay). Archived from the original on 2021-10-30. Retrieved 2021-10-30.
  14. ^ Toharudin Rasid (2019-03-03). "AF 137: GENERALS OF THE MALAYSIAN ARMY". Putera Lapis Mahang: My Military Life (in Malay). Archived from the original on 2019-05-17. Retrieved 2021-11-11.
  15. ^ "Pegawai Kanan TD Naik Pangkat". Berita Tentera Darat Malaysia (in Malay). 2016-12-15. Retrieved 2024-01-17.
  16. ^ Akirul, Mohammad Fadzil (2020-08-27). "Perbarisan Penghargaan Mantan Panglima 21 GGK". Berita Tentera Darat Malaysia (in Malay). Retrieved 2024-01-17.
  17. ^ "Mej Jen Adi Ridzwan Ambil Alih Tampuk Panglima 21 Grup Gerak Khas". Defence Security Asia (in Malay). 2023-05-14. Retrieved 2024-01-17.
  18. ^ "Perbarisan Penghargaan dan Serah Terima Tugas Panglima 21 Gerup Gerak Khas". Air Times News Network (in Malay). 10 May 2024. Retrieved 10 May 2024.