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7th Rangers: On Operations, Unit Combat Intelligence Course - Special Warfare Training Center

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" “When you're left wounded on
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the women come out to cut up what remains,
Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,
And go to your God like a soldier”
General Douglas MacArthur

" “We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”
“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.
“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,
for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”
“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.
The Soldier stood and faced God
Which must always come to pass
He hoped his shoes were shining
Just as bright as his brass
"Step forward you Soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?"
"No, Lord, I guess I ain't
Because those of us who carry guns
Can't always be a saint."
I've had to work on Sundays
And at times my talk was tough,
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny
That wasn't mine to keep.
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills got just too steep,
The Soldier squared his shoulders and said
And I never passed a cry for help
Though at times I shook with fear,
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around
Except to calm their fears.
If you've a place for me here,
Lord, It needn't be so grand,
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand."
There was silence all around the throne
Where the saints had often trod
As the Soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.
"Step forward now, you Soldier,
You've borne your burden well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell."

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On Operations, Unit Combat Intelligence Course - Special Warfare Training Center
Monday, June 24, 2024

Once we made it to the top of the hill, as our water bottles were filled, we decided to cook for lunch and have our breakfast. Usually cooked the rice. Whatever food carried by the signaler was to be consumed first. So as to lighten his load, he carries the radio set.

The dynamo for the radio set we take turns to carry as it was heavy, which is also known as “baby elephant” (anak gajah). Cooked rice to be packed and carried so as not to waste time and use resources at hand as there was a clear little stream. The combat rations we just needed to heat up or eat them cold. We had coffee and hard biscuits, which even though unappealing we ate.

I also carried five packs of instant noodles, which were considered, contraband. I gave two packs to be cooked and shared amongst all of us. Actually, all of us had five packs of instant noodles. While one person cooked, we took up defensive positions all round. We filled our bellies and continued halfheartedly on our mission as it had already started drizzling. It was cold, I knew we had to stop and create a shelter if we did not want to get soaked through, not only that all the leeches in Cameron Highlands headed towards us.

The temperature was dropping and all of us were feeling cold. We found a spot, which was slightly flat, overlooking a steep drop. Anybody coming from there would be difficult for anyone. I told the team not to do any cutting, just enough to make a hammock. They picked two trees which were near to one another. They quickly strung up the hammocks over which draped the water proof ponchos. I examined the map, we had actually moved around 6 clicks which was 6 kms.

The drizzle turned into a downpour. It was heavy, we stayed dry and above the ground. I decided not to move for the rest of the day, our hammocks were very close to another, in an all-round defense. I personally placed all the claymore mines around us, 6 to be exact. I set up three claymore mines to fire simultaneously and another three to do the same, attached to the M57 firing device. All the two sets to fire in different directions. I gave one M57 firing device to Sergeant Wellington and the other I held it myself.

Told him to fire only on my orders. If anything happened to me, he will decide by himself and likewise the remaining NCO’s according to seniority. What I meant was according to the chain of command. These are always the orders for every event so that the mission is carried out even if there is death. These are the standard co-ordination instructions, given down the line by every fighting unit or support unit.

That evening we did a stand-to at dusk, each member of the team marked his arc of fire using sticks driven into the ground this is a safety feature so that there is no blue on blue casualty. There were no sentries at night, so no one was sleeping like a log. Everyone was alert; snatching at sleep was an art. We lay on our hammocks listening to the sounds of the jungle, the patter of raindrops, wind rustling the leaves on the ground. We had to listen for the approach of humans and animals in a pitch-black jungle.

The canopy of the primary jungle hid the sky. In the morning at dawn before daylight, we did the “stand to”, it is a drill. The appropriate time the enemy would attack. As they believe, our senses and alertness would be dull and they could successfully spring a surprise attack  and slaughter us. Our enemy is experienced and skillful in jungle warfare. After the “stand to”, we packed up and moved to a different location.

After forty minutes of trudging, we came across a small clear stream. We stopped here to rest and have our breakfast of hard biscuits and coffee. After breakfast, we moved silently looking for traces of enemy activity. Sunlight barely got through the thick canopy but there were some spots where the sun shines. One of my guy spotted a glinting object in the bushes. He was my leading scout; he raised his arm to halt us. He looked behind and signaled for me to meet up with me.

He did that by tapping his shoulders and then bunching his fingers on top of his head. The rest of the men moved into an all-round defense position. I moved up to him he pointed at the object. I switched my safety catch on my M16 to auto and went forward. I examined the object, it was an old sardine can discarded by someone. Not very old but for that to be there is activity, plus the fact that there were remnants of burnt wood, someone must have cooked there.


Found a total of three empty and crushed sardine cans and one tin of empty Mei Ling can, which was for stewed pork. Sergeant Wellington moved up and told me, “Sir, I am sure that this is a place where the enemy must have had their food”. I grouped all of them and told them that I would not report this find. After all this was an operational area of the Special Forces. If they could not find these traces, well bad luck for them. I explained to them, in another week this course will end and we can report to our units.

If we reported this find, our operation here would be extended. All of the unanimously agreed with me. Some of the guys were married and had kids. Whom they have already been missing and feeling homesick. Bottle washers (non- Infantry) I am sure will criticize me for this decision, you think I care a flying fuck about what you think. That was a wise decision on my part and my boys. Soon the operation ended. Our passing out was itself done in Cameron Highlands.

We were presented with the UCIS patch, which was a shoulder patch. An eagle carrying a dagger, we were qualified to operate in five men teams. We were of course proud that we passed out after all the challenges of nearly being drowned crossing the Muar River, being gored by a female buffalo with a young calf when doing a map reading exercise.
Five of us were crossing a paddy field, there was an irrigation ditch, I did not notice the buffalo my whole patrol had crossed the irrigation ditch. The buffalo feeling very threatened started charging, my boys started yelling at me to run and jump across the ditch. I was not thinking clearly at that moment. I saw that buffalo galloping towards me at full speed, tufts of earth and grass were being hurled in the air. I saw a tree stump barely six inches in diameter and a mere two feet in height. I dived behind that, smart, real smart!
One of my soldiers started screaming at me, “Sir jump that ditch, the tree stump cannot protect you”. I was with a heavy pack, turned around and ran and jumped the ditch for my dear life, barely made it, two of my boys grabbed my arms and pulled me up. The buffalo skidded to a halt, as the ditch was too wide for it. I looked back at the ditch and knew that on a normal day, I would not be able to cross that ditch with a heavy pack. The pumped up adrenaline in me made me jump successfully.
The whole patrol was relieved, one of the guys said, “Sir, if you had been gored and died it would have been a bloody disgrace for the Ranger Corps”. All of them had a good laugh. Especially about me taking cover behind a two feet tree stump. We returned to our respective units after that course.
I took over command of the UCIS Platoon from my brother officer 2Lt Fabian Bangkong, a Dayak from Sarawak. To command the UCIS Platoon you need to be qualified.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 4:41 PM  
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