The Pasukan Gerakan Khas (PGK) is an elite high-profile counter-terrorism and special operations tactical unit of the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP). The PGK has two distinct subdivisions; VAT 69 (Very Able Trooper-69; Komando 69) and the Special Actions Unit.
The PGK is capable of dealing with a wide range of special operations from counter-terrorism operations to rescue operations. The actual size and organisation of the Directorate is classified. Tasked with enforcing Malaysian law through sea, air and land operations, the PGK is a vital component of the RMP.
A symbol of Pasukan Gerakan Khas Detachment A or Special Actions Unit (UTK).
A symbol of Pasukan Gerakan Khas Detachment B or 69 Commandos (VAT 69).
Trimedia Parachute Wings
The recognised symbol of the PGK. It also identifies the abilities of parachutist, airborne unit and air assault operations.
PGK roles are believed to include:
- Intelligence collection in deep reconnaissance missions and warfare.
- Special operations to support the RMP Special Branch in combating subversive organisations or terrorist activities.
- Counter Terrorism operations inside Malaysian territory in conjunction with armed forces.
- Law enforcement operations in dealing with armed criminals inside Malaysian territory.
- Counter terrorism operations outside Malaysian territory; including Operation Astute in Timor Leste.
- Search and rescue operations inside or outside Malaysian territory, such as aid operations in the aftermath of the 2006 tsunami in Acheh, Indonesia.
- Protection of senior Malaysian dignitaries, ministers and VIPs.
VAT 69 (Very Able Troopers 69), also known as Task Force, Charlie Force and Special Project Team, is modelled on the British Special Air Service Regiment. It was formed in 1969 (hence the name – 69) as a small combat unit to counter the tactics and techniques of the communist terrorists. It began when the Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, The Honorable Allahyarham (late) Tun Dr. Ismail proposed the formation of a special force for fighting the communist insurgency in 1969.
In October 1969, 60 men from 1600 officers and men of the Jungle Squad applied for VAT 69 training and qualified themselves for basic commando training. A group of instructors from British Special Air Service Regiment were sent to Fort Kemar, Perak to supervised the inaugural 69th Commando. Only 30 men managed to pass and they formed the nucleus troop of 69th Commando Battalion.
In the 1970s, VAT 69 started its initial operations and successfully deployed against the communist threat. As a result, a significant number of communist terrorists were neutralised and large amounts of weapons and equipment were seized.
In 1977, three new squadrons were raised and trained by the New Zealand SAS and a special course was also conducted to train their own instructors. This expansion programme was completed in 1980 and VAT 69 had fully equipped units with its own logistics department.
Unit Tindakan Khas (UTK) or Special Action Unit is a secondary special forces unit of the RMP after VAT 69. This unit performs SWAT duties and the unit’s men also undertake undercover missions. Created after the Japanese Red Army (Nihon Sekigun) hostage incident of August 1975 when the terrorists held approximately 50 civilians including members of the US consulate and the Swedish chargé d’affaires as hostages within the AIA building housing several embassies in Kuala Lumpur, 2 years after the massacre of Israeli hostages in Munich, West Germany by the Palestinian Black September group in 1973. The terrorists won the release of five imprisoned comrades and flew with them to Libya. Similarly, the UTK were also trained by the 22 SAS but they operate in a very different tactical atmosphere as compared by US Capitol Police SWAT units. In the selection phase, only twenty from more than a hundred police applicants are selected annually. UTK were also involved with the Grup Gerak Khas (Malaysian Army Special Forces) to manage security in the 1998 Commonwealth Games.
On 20 October 1997, the Royal Malaysia Police reorganised VAT 69 and UTK and merged them into one unit as Pasukan Gerakan Khas (PGK) (Special Operations Force), launched by Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Dr Mahathir Muhammad and Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Rahim Noor. Although amalgamated into one directorate, they are essentially still two separate entities operating in two distinct operational environments.
Previously separate entities, both the VAT 69 and the UTK were amalgamated into the PGK on 20 October 1997, when it was launched by the 5th Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor. However, the VAT 69 and the UTK are still operationing as separate units. The UTK is now officially known as Pasukan Gerakan Khas Detachment A and VAT 69 has been deputised to Pasukan Gerakan Khas Detachment B.
Based at the Royal Malaysia Police Headquarters in Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur, the PGK is under the direct command of the RMP’s Internal and Public Security (Malay: Keselamatan Dalam Negeri dan Ketenteraman Awam) Director. The unit commander holds the rank of Senior Assistant Commissioner (SAC) and is the Deputy Director of the Internal and Public Security Branch.
With the growing threat of terrorism since the 11 September attacks, this unit has increasingly adapted itself to conduct counter-terrorism duties. With the aim of creating teams that are capable of dealing with a broad range of operations (especially counter-terrorism operations), the PGK small patrol team consist of six to ten operatives led by officers ranked from Police Inspector to Superintendent of Police with different expertise such as an attack units, snipers, EOD experts, communications experts and field medics. The PGK has also forged closer relations with the special forces of the Malaysian Armed Forces, including the 10 Paratrooper Brigade, Grup Gerak Khas, PASKAL and PASKAU, so as to enable them to more effectively enforce security within Malaysia’s borders.
The UTK is primarily a SWAT-style unit but with a difference;
UTK operatives operate mostly in plain-clothes and also perform undercover missions. It has approximately 300 members. The unit operates to execute special security services such as anti-terrorism and counter-terrorism in Malaysian urban areas, supporting the police on missions such as dealing with armed criminals, and escorting and protecting top leaders and VVIPs. VAT 69 operatives however are jungle warfare specialists given the VAT 69′s origins as a force established to fight the communist threat in 1969 and the insurgency years. Originally trained by the British SAS, VAT 69 conducts in land, sea and air special operation techniques with speciality in jungle warfare and deep reconnaissance missions, VAT 69 mission is to execute special operation in support of Police’s Special Branch fight against subversive organisation and terrorist activities, offensive operations using special weapons and tactics, anti-terrorism, counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, close protection and supporting the Malaysian Armed Forces special forces, RDF or infantry force in any security measures. There are four infantry squadrons in VAT 69 with its own logistic unit, totalling around 1900 members.
PGK snipers, technicians and explosive expertise regularly cross-train with foreign special forces including the Special Air Service Regiments of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, the Royal Thai Border Patrol Police, the French GIGN, the German Federal Police Grenzschutzgruppe 9 (GSG-9), and a number of US services including the US Navy SEALs, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) and others. UTK members wear maroon berets while VAT 69 members wear the sand coloured beret given to them by their founding trainers, the 22nd SAS.
On 14 November 2006, for the first time in the history of PGK, the maroon and sand coloured berets were honoured as Royal Berets by Yang Dipertuan Agong Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putera Jamalullail, the then King of Malaysia.