Know your enemy, know yourself

By LIM SUE GOAN
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily

To win the battle of exterminating the Sulu gunmen in Sabah, security forces must know about themselves, as well as their enemy through gathering intelligence and making good use of technology.

As the Art of War recorded, Sun Tsu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles." It means that if we thoroughly understand the enemy and ourselves, we can avoid putting ourselves in danger and win the battle.

Do our security forces understand the background and military strength of the enemy? I believe that they do not know much. If our security forces knew that the Sulu gunmen were brutal and cunning, they would not have negotiated for so many days. The police even said in mid-February that they did not rule out the possibility that the Sulu intruders possessed firearms. How are they going to develop an offensive strategy if they do not even know what weapons are the enemy using?

It is understood that the Islamic military groups in southern Philippines are well-trained. For instance, Abu Sayyaf founder Abdurajik Abubakar Janjalani went to Libya alone when he was young to get years of rigorous military training. He returned to his hometown in 1991 and founded the Abu Sayyaf guerrilla group. In addition, there were reports claiming that 64 Malaysian Jemaah Islamiah members had received military training in southern Philippines.

Therefore, the Sulu gunmen equipped with heavy weapons in Sabah should have received military training. Our security forces should be cramming to learn more about them and other armed groups in southern Philippines to avoid putting themselves in danger and beat the enemy as soon as possible.

There are also inadequacies in intelligence collection.

For example, it was heard that the Sulu gunmen had started to sneak into Sabah in batches and settled down in a few districts as early as four months ago. If it is true, it shows the failure of the intelligence collection group.

Some residents claimed that they saw about 40 gunmen landed in Tanjung Labian and Tanjung Batu. The authorities, however, were unable to verify the information.

In addition to the confusing intelligence in Sabah, we also lack an intelligence network in the Philippines. For instance, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III claimed the Sabah intrusion a conspiracy and the formation of the gunmen have actually obtained the acquiescence of some members of the former Philippine government. An adviser to Sulu Sultan also disclosed that the Sulu gunmen had premeditated to enter Sabah as early as eight months ago and he had stopped them for four times.

If the authorities were to receive the information, the government could then know about the conspiracy and take actions.

Due to the lack of information, our security forces are unable to differentiate between common people and terrorists among Filipinos in Sabah, while not knowing the movements of separatist groups from southern Philippines.

If we had accurate intelligence, the authorities would not have misjudged the situation and could identify the Sulu gunmen as terrorists earlier.

Technology also plays a key role in modern warfare. Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, the leader of Sulu gunmen in Sabah, has kept contact with his brother, the self-styled Sulu Sultan. If the authorities have advanced technologies, they can then trace the whereabouts of the Sulu gunmen.

Ironically, Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram has even been interviewed by many foreign media, as if he has entered a no man's land.

Since the Sulu gunmen are heavily armed, we can also detect their movements with devices, rather than bombing without a target.

To win the battle, the security forces must first overcome the above mentioned weaknesses to know the whereabouts of the gunmen. It will be difficult to fight if we do not even know where the gunmen are.