There is still so much fight left in them after their ser­vice is over

New Straits Times - - Opinion -

THERE is truth in the say­ing that old sol­diers never die, but sim­ply fade away. How­ever, metaphors aside, the fad­ing away part can be dif­fi­cult these days in the age of smart­phones and break­ing news. Stuff con­tin­ues to hap­pen, and news of events as they un­fold will spread very quickly. Many of these can be dis­con­cert­ing and cause alarm.

In the past, sol­diers would have rest­less sleep, wor­ry­ing if a mil­i­tary con­voy had not al­ready been am­bushed in Bukit Kayu Hi­tam, or if there had been contact or fire­fight with the Com­mu­nist ter­ror­ists in the Korbu jungle.

Nowa­days, they may be up all night won­der­ing if war had bro­ken out on the Korean Penin­sula — a war that will be dis­as­trous for the whole world.

How­ever, it will be most un­likely that it will oc­cur, at least, not for now. No­body wants a war, not the United States, not even North Korea. The US can­not af­ford to add one more to its list, es­pe­cially with nu­clear-armed North Korea.

Kim Jong-un, mean­while, in fo­cus­ing on his regime’s sur­vival, would not want to see it end by a war with the US and its al­lies.

He is adept at brinkman­ship, but at the same time, is also “one smart cookie”, to quote US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

It is ter­ror­ism, or more sig­nif­i­cantly, ter­ror­ist at­tacks in the West that has be­come very wor­ry­ing. These are cruel acts against fel­low hu­man be­ings.

Un­for­tu­nately, these at­tacks will con­tinue and al­most al­ways, will be blamed on Mus­lims and Is­lam. Worse is when some hap­less hostage gets killed and the hor­ri­ble video of it goes vi­ral.

Con­se­quently, ev­ery­one will be­come an­gry and de­spon­dent. Is­lam­o­pho­bia will then per­sist and made even more dif­fi­cult to erad­i­cate. The mis­ery then wors­ens with the re­al­i­sa­tion that noth­ing much else can be done to al­le­vi­ate mat­ters, not un­til the whole global com­mu­nity does more to ef­fec­tively deal with the prob­lem.

There will al­ways be wars and con­flicts. It is the in­her­ent ex­is­ten­tial story of mankind on planet earth.

But, what makes the blood boil is when these are de­lib­er­ately started by states or groups for their own self­ish ends. Such wars or con­flicts are noth­ing more than about em­pire, politics, con­trol and the gath­er­ing of wealth. It can be brought to de­scend any time upon any coun­try or na­tion.

Such a prospect re­minds me of the vet­eran sol­diers, of their pledge and com­mit­ment to de­fend King and coun­try. They have all con­tin­ued to hon­our these, al­beit some in their own pe­cu­liar and con­found­ing ways.

Many are loud when voic­ing their con­cerns on mat­ters per­tain­ing to the coun­try’s se­cu­rity, the mil­i­tary, and the rakyat’s well­be­ing. Some study deeply the is­sues and prob­lems at hand, and of­fer con­struc­tive views and rec­om­men­da­tions.

One is­sue that is cur­rently trou­bling them is the use by oth­ers of mil­i­tary uni­forms, ranks, des­ig­na­tions, in­signias and cer­e­mo­nial swords.

They are be­fud­dled and dis­mayed over the many non-mil­i­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions and agen­cies be­ing al­lowed to use all of these. They be­lieve that this has hurt the pro­fes­sional mil­i­tary’s own unique iden­tity, sense of hon­our and pride, and their morale.

What irks them is that no­body seems to care. Con­se­quently, many have drawn back to fume in si­lence or to be­come more of­fen­sive. Which is all right, ex­cept that some have cho­sen to at­tack with a bit­ter vengeance, spar­ing no­body, in­clud­ing the lead­er­ship, gov­ern­ment and car­ing less of the con­se­quences. This is, of course, not wise.

Theirs is just too ex­treme, not un­like what came out of many of their for­mer fel­low US course­mates, who gave a quick “nuke ‘em” as an an­swer to elim­i­nate a stub­born enemy.

Nowa­days, the an­swer will cer­tainly also fea­ture the use of the “mother of all bombs”, the GBU43/B MOAB (Mas­sive Ord­nance Air Blast).

Such a solution, of course, can work ex­cept that the overkill will also usher in another “mother” in terms of ef­fort and cost of re­cov­er­ing and re­build­ing from ut­ter chaos and des­o­la­tion, not un­like what is seen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There is trou­ble for some to ride away hap­pily into the sun­set. This has led to some of my fel­low old sol­diers to re­sort to un­nec­es­sary mea­sures and fire away at what­so­ever they think de­serv­ing.

Hope­fully, they will not for­get to tem­per their ac­tions with good sense and deep re­spon­si­bil­ity, so that peace and or­der are pre­served on life’s path.

A path that will be treaded by many oth­ers trailing very closely be­hind them.


The writer, a for­mer army field com­man­der and re­cip­i­ent of the Seri Pahlawan Ga­gah Perkasa,

Malaysia’s high­est gal­lantry award, is well known for his role dur­ing the Al-Mau­nah siege in Sauk, Perak, in July 2000

Hope­fully, they will not for­get to tem­per their ac­tions with good sense and deep re­spon­si­bil­ity, so that peace and or­der are pre­served on life’s path. A path that will be treaded by many oth­ers trailing very closely be­hind them.


Sol­diers have made a pledge and com­mit­ment to de­fend King and coun­try.

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