NON-TRADITIONAL security (NTS) is an umbrella term for security issues such as terrorism and environmental degradation and the term is important because most countries do not give the threats involved sufficient consideration.
Instead, they continue to be mainly concerned with traditional security conflicts between national armies.
NTS has to be seen and acknowledged as a war of the future due to its unpredictability, and the fact that domestic and external factors both usually come into play.
Malaysia is no exception and has its share of NTS threats to handle. Lahad Datu intrusions, the human trafficking camps at Wang Kelian, kidnappings for ransom in Sabah by the Abu Sayyaf are examples of such threats, which have alerted the Malaysian government, especially the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF), to the new dangers at hand.
Several points are highlighted below for preparedness in non-traditional security and in fighting “the war of the future”, which the Defence White Paper should consider.
Enhancing strategic collaboration between the MAF and other agencies, such as the Department of Environment, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), is imperative in ensuring that NTS threats such as industrial contamination, pollution and cyber threats, which the MAF lacks expertise to deal with, can be managed safely.
There are several ways the MAF can enhance collaboration with other agencies. The first has to do with the exchange of knowledge between the MAF and other agencies.
MAF officers can be transferred to other agencies to learn about methods, procedures and guidelines for dealing with issues that are not within the traditional purview of the MAF.
Secondly, the MAF and other relevant agencies should establish a coordination centre that has the ability to immediately activate containment or defence measures without red tape or processes that may delay proper response.
Swift communication and decision making between the agencies and the MAF is essential. Without strong coordination, countering NTS threats will be difficult and ineffective.
On-going training is a must as NTS events are difficult to foresee. Nevertheless, the government needs to prepare to handle them as and when they occur.
Fire fighting such situations would be easier if the MAF undergoes constant and consistent training. Regular training involving NTS elements such as logistics, communication and strategic planning will raise MAF officers’ skills and individual awareness in facing threats at all times.
Besides, the exposure to various elements of non-traditional security in training can equip MAF personnel with the right knowledge to act appropriately and respond immediately especially in matters of life and death.
Regular training also allows the MAF to figure out their own weaknesses and how to surmount them and devise plans to neutralise threats within a shorter span of time.
MODERN TECHNOLOGY AND EQUIPMENT
With modern technology, conflicts will take new forms and become very challenging to train for. Even now, the usage of modern equipment by perpetrators of non-traditional security threats have become a norm.
A case in point are the attacks in cyberspace known as Ransomware Wanna Cry, which affected more than 150 countries including Malaysia.
It holds a system to ransom by locking its computer encryption and unlocking it only on payment of specified amounts of money.
Hence, the MAF must be well equipped to ensure that future threats of this nature can be countered without limitations and drawbacks.
With Industrial Revolution 4.0, wars of the future will no longer be limited to just physical territorial wars, but will advance into cyberspace where availability and accessibility to information will decide the winner — and only with advanced military equipment can Malaysia be prepared for what’s to come.
The writer is an analyst from the Penang Institute