The GPO in a single gun position during Confrontation, had many additional responsibilities and was multi tasked. He was the only gunner officer in the position, with an infantry company or platoon to cover a sector of operations on Sebatik Island. One of the many tasks would be accompanying FOO to the many infantry patrols and sometimes Commando patrols in deep recognizance in our areas of interest.
Our SOPs for gun positions had catered for auto pilot, when the GPO was away from the gun position. Whilst the gun sergeant would always remain as over all in charged, the TAMA Bdr would command the CP. He would act as GPO ordering fire orders to the guns. TAMA was Technical Assistant Malaysian Artillery, now called Ballistics data processor (BDP). The whole gun position would act as a close knitted team.
My FOO team would include a TAMA and Signaler. Most recces would be about 3 to 4 days out, all within run range. The gun would be loaded and followed our recce plan, laying on pre arranged predicted targets in the sector covered. Sometimes we would register some of those targets. Frequent radio checks were also one of our critical requirements. We moved light with half filled haversacks and patrol packs. Compo rations would be carefully selected and well prepared, with rice precooked.
On one particular recce with a small commando patrol, we actually crossed the border and probed a sector which had a known enemy position. It was text book procedures all the way. Radio silence, hand signages, crawling, predetermined RVs and night probes around the enemy location. Our main mission was to determine enemy strength and enemy route towards our position. We had to determine the exact crossing points along the border, to which we would place a predicted DF target on the crossing areas. I must admit it was no fun doing it, as we were ready to run like hell upon signal to extract or withdraw. We must be as fit and as agile as the Commandos. Missions across the border would always be commanded by a Commando officer, whilst other patrols would be led by at least a Commando sergeant. I was glad that all our missions were successful and without any incident. We were competent to be part of a deep penetration mission.
It was all in a day’s work for the GPO during Confrontation.