‘Defending peace at all costs’

James Kon

The new Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) Major General (U) Dato Seri Pahlawan Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sahat, in his inaugural speech at the handover and takeover ceremony at the Bolkiah Garrison yesterday emphasised on two important aspects – operational assets readiness and personnel – that will impact the RBAF’s capabilities.

Major General (U) Dato Seri Pahlawan Haji Hamzah said, “National defence and defence institutions are considered a ‘public good’. As in other countries, defending the peace comes at a cost. Peace is priceless and to obtain it requires a huge commitment from the government.

“As a defence institution, we must constantly conduct self-reflection as to the purpose of the RBAF and our role as RBAF citizens. It is not merely a career but a noble sacrifice, in order to defend our beloved sovereign, religion and country.”

From the aspect of operational assets readiness, Major General (U) Dato Seri Pahlawan Haji Hamzah said, “With many of the RBAF assets already approaching old age, I am urging for future capability planning through the introduction of new capabilities, by taking into account geostrategic challenges that are more demanding and complex.

“Not only do we require new assets but also the way we fight in the future. This will require thinking outside the box, while maintaining basic capability. I believe that the Force Structure Review (FSR) initiative, which is currently being carried out, will be discussing this matter more thoroughly.

“In addition, all armed forces must maximise asset capabilities in a bid to enhance current capabilities. This effort should be a project for each of them, in raising their respective capacity, such as increasing firepower by using existing platforms or assets.

Newly appointed Commander of the RBAF Major General (U) Dato Seri Pahlawan Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sahat delivers his speech. PHOTO: JAMES KON

“From the aspect of current operations, all armed forces are recommended to consolidate current capabilities. This includes updating the concept of operations (CONOPs), doctrine, standard operating Procedures (SOPs) and training.

“The three aforementioned strategies – introducing new capabilities, enhancing current capabilities and consolidating current capabilities – are very relevant capability management approach which should be practised within the RBAF.

“Outside of the RBAF, we are currently faced with various challenges. In today’s operation environment and in the era of globalisation, threat scenarios have changed and become non-traditional within a contemporary domain.

“In addition, rapid changes and the fast pace of technological advancement, particularly in the 4th Industrial Revolution, has led us to look for a new approach. What is certain is that change is inevitable. As a defence institution, we need to be aware and be responsive towards change. We must be constantly relevant and adaptive toward changes, and be prepared to transform the RBAF into a technology-savvy armed forces.

“In today’s operation environment, the domain of war has changed and is increasingly leading towards cyber warfare. This is compelling armed forces to improve cyber technology and make it one of the core capabilities. In connection with this, I urge that we continue the initiative and efforts in establishing cyber defence at the RBAF.”

In ensuring the availability of operating assets, Major General (U) Dato Seri Pahlawan Haji Hamzah noted that logistical assistance plays a vital role.

“Without strong logistics, operations will be affected. However, the most important matter within the context of the RBAF that all parties must pay attention to is the aspect of acquisition. This includes the acquisition of spare parts that will directly affect the availability of operation assets.

“Therefore, I call on all involved parties to be more proactive in conducting the maintenance of assets, particularly in improving the process of procurement. This needs the close cooperation of civilian staff in the Ministry of Defence tasked with facilitating the needs of RBAF.

“Approaches such as outsourcing, procurement services through contracts and so on, which help shorten the lead time procurement, should be expanded according to suitability,” he said.

On the second focus of people or personnel, he said, “I believe that the quality of personnel is a main contributor towards the integrity of RBAF and also its future development. It is my commitment to all personnel of the RBAF to whereby I will lead with fairness and sensitivity to the development of the personnel.

“The characteristics of RBAF personnel that I hope for are professional and knowledgeable, with constant strong discipline and regimentation, possessing strong spirituality as an indirect defence against involvement in unhealthy habits, constantly observing the basic values of RBAF, and a constant role model in the RBAF as well as towards the community both within and outside the country.

“I would like to also emphasise on the welfare of our personnel. I urge all leaderships of RBAF to work together towards increasing the welfare of personnel under their respective care.

This is because maintaining the welfare of personnel can contribute to the effectiveness of an organisation.

“Recently, we launched the RBAF Prihatin Centre, resulting from an RBAF social studies and welfare project implemented this year. The centre is hoped to become a one-stop agency in handling the welfare issues of RBAF personnel.

“Therefore, I urge personnel to make good use of the centre, if required. In addition, RBAF personnel should have room to spend time with their families, so that we can achieve optimum work-life balance and ensuring that the welfare of their families is always guaranteed.

“As a security institution, we must be aware of the country’s direction, especially on the role of RBAF in heading towards Brunei Vision 2035. The RBAF’s involvement towards achieving Vision 2035 should be in line with other ministries and government agencies, especially law enforcement agencies. Our efforts should be integrated, as frequently stated, with a whole-of-government approach and with a whole-of-nation approach.

“In the international arena, the RBAF will continue to be committed to overseas assignments. We remain committed to continuing activities that strengthen bilateral ties. I wish to emphasise that all of these activities can provide benefits, especially in enhancing the professionalism of RBAF personnel.”