VAT 69 / UTK : History

In those days of communist insurgency, The Royal Malaysian Police had a paramilitary arm called Pasukan Polis Hutan (PPH). They had several battalions and among them was the elite one, known as 69th Commando Battalion or VAT 69. The normal police too had an elite unit - Unit Tindakan Khas (UTK). UTK had a SWAT-like function as well as close protection roles. After the communist terrorist laid down arms in 1989, VAT 69 had problems finding a proper role. Finally on December 1997, the PPH was renamed as Pasukan Gerakan Am (PGA) while UTK and VAT 69 was disbanded and merged. It was then called Pasukan Gerakan Khas (PGK).

The history of VAT 69 began when the Honorable Allahyarham Tun Dr. Ismail who was the Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, proposed the formation of a special unit trained for fighting the communist terrorist. It was actually formed in 1969 (hence the name - 69). The establishment of VAT 69 was inline with Royal Malaysian Police requirement to create a small combat unit with the same tactics and technique just like the communist terrorist.

In October 1969, about 1600 PPH personnel from several battalions volunteered to join VAT 69. After the selection process, only 60 personnel were qualified to undergo basic commando training. As the formation of VAT 69 were highly classified, all training was conducted at Fort Kemar, located deep in the jungle of Perak where transportation are limited to helicopter and small aircraft only.

The first training was supervised by a group of instructors from British SAS (Special Air Service). On completion, only 30 personnel managed to get through. They actually formed the first troop of 69th Commando Battalion. In 1977, New Zealand SAS was involved in training 3 new squadrons of VAT 69. A special course to train VAT 69's own instructors were also conducted. Finally, the expansion program completed in 1980 in which VAT 69 now had 4 fully equipped infantry squadrons with it's own logistic unit.

It was not known when actually the UTK had been formed. UTK were also trained by British SAS and they operate in a very different way from the typical American SWAT teams. They have approximately 100 plus members and the selection phase is so tough that the passing rate was supposedly 20 - 10% only. Even the selection process reflects SAS influence. UTK personnel mostly uses handguns / pistols (Sig-Sauers) and prefer to be in undercover roles. Just like GGK, the UTK were also involved in The 16th Commonwealth Games security measures.

Both VAT 69 and UTK have very good records and they are very low profile, especially - the UTK. As for VAT 69, they were used against the pirates who terrorized the coastal towns of Sabah, one of the states in East Malaysia. After the deployment of VAT 69, the piracy attacks had almost stopped.

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