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National Task Force Realises Total Defence Concept

Its establishment is only at its infancy but the achievements and success is very impressive, where the activities that threaten national security were successfully defeated either by road or through national waters.

It is the result of cooperation, integration and careful planning by all enforcement agencies under the coordination of the National Task Force (NTF).

NTF was established on May 6, 2020 aiming to strengthen the country’s border control from the entry of illegal immigrants to curb Covid-19. This operation is implemented by mobilising integrated forces to control the land and the maritime and air, through the 6D method, namely Deter, Detect, Deny, Detour, Detain and Deportation.

MAF was appointed as the lead agency in the NTF along with police, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and 15 other enforcement agencies including the Health Ministry (MOH).

Through the implementation of Operation Benteng, NTF made national history when the Security Forces together with 19 enforcement agencies and the MOH had been involved in an unprecedented mission as entrusted by the country’s leadership. Interestingly, these 19 agencies are not all from uniformed teams but also involved non-uniformed agencies and departments.

With the cooperation in this operation, NTF succeeds in tightening land and sea border controls and facilitating the work process of each agency. This is because most aggression activities are interrelated with other cross-border crimes. Also, NTF coordinates the sharing of intelligence information between the agencies involved through the Combined Intelligence Working Group and coordinates the logistics procurement of the agencies.

The integration of the land, sea and air components under the NTF also succeeded in enhancing cooperation in terms of information sharing from the tracking system and strengthening the communication system network.

With a strong communication network, it managed to improve the relationship between all agencies. Uniquely, the task integration performed under this agency does not interfere with the essential tasks of the departments and agencies concerned.

The priority is the tasks coordination so that this integrated operation can be conducted optimally using the existing assets in all the agencies. The use of human resources, especially in intelligence capabilities and information sharing between agencies fully mobilized to achieve the objectives.

Although it seems that NTF establishment is similar to the assignment of other agencies, from the strategic point of view of national defence, the existence of the NTF directly supports the Defense White Paper (DWP) and realises the HANRUH Concept or Total Defence outlined in the document.

HANRUH is a concept of understanding and emphasis that the responsibility of defending the country’s sovereignty and security is not only on the shoulders of security personnel alone but also the responsibility of every individual born, and who professes, to be a Malaysian regardless of age, race or sector.

There are three main messages in the DWP: avoid taking national security and defense lightly, emphasise the mobilisation of the entire government and society (whole of government and whole of society), also the credible partnerships for national security both inside and outside the country.

Thus, NTF success can be used as a cornerstone and benchmark so that such cooperation is implemented by the government and the private sector in other fields to benefit the country.

Undeniably, a lot had been achieved. Every day, there are reports of successful arrests of illegal immigrants, smugglers and drug traffickers either by land or through national waters. It is even more gratifying when the NTF also managed to detect some hotspots, the preferred route for illegal immigrants to cross the country’s borders, making it difficult for them to enter or leave the country.

Through NTF sources, about 500 hot spot routes have been detected in the

Peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak and this number may have increased. As for the maritime route, there are several hotspots for PATI’s entry, namely in Langkawi Island, Kedah; Kuala Selangor, Selangor; Tanjung Piai and Southeast Johor. In fact, the authorities managed to detain hundreds of landlords, agents, ‘transporters’ and owners of ‘shelter’ premises.

NTF is also involved in coordinating the repatriation of illegal immigrants from several neighbouring countries with the Malaysian Immigration Department and this successful enforcement is testament to the close cooperation between all agencies.

The issue of Rohingya migrants currently trying to infiltrate into the country, is also the main focus of NTF radar nowadays.

The next series of writings will be about operations and assignments implemented, the challenges and experiences that NTF went through in carrying out the responsibilities to safeguard our country.

By Lt Col Dr Maimunah Omar, the assistant director of the Contemporary Security Study Centre at the Malaysian Institute of Defense and Security (MiDAS), Ministry of Defence Malaysia.

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