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‘Cormorant Strike IX – 2018’ showcases military might of SL’s tri-forces

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Friday, 5 October 2018 00:00


By Shanika Sriyananda

The peaceful fishing village of Kuchchaveli was shaken when the Zulu air force and special operations forces attacked the well-fortified ‘Folean’ enemy base at the Kuchchaveli beach front in Trincomalee.

The deafening sounds of exploding bombs and gun firing by the soldiers of the Special Forces and the Commandos with the support of the Zulu Navy, the Kaffir fighter jets flying over the base taking targets to suppress the insurgents at the Folean base, sea insertion by soldiers of the Special Forces using inshore patrol crafts, highly-skilled parachutists of the special operation forces, who were dropped deep behind the target, to cut off reinforcements and withdrawal of insurgents, mechanised infantry tanks bulldozing the commanding points and guard points in the Folean base and finally helicopters touching the beach front for casualty evacuation kept the onlookers steadfast till the last second of the activity that gave them a real-time capture of an enemy base attacking from land, sea and air.

This multi-pronged joint amphibious attack that had completely destroyed the enemy hideout gave the villagers, young and old, men and women carrying babies and who had throng into the fighting terrain, a real-time battlefield experience after nine years of ending the war in the country.

In this ‘Critical Engagement’, the apex of the joint Tri-service mega Field Training Exercise (FTX) of the Army, ‘Cormorant Strike IX – 2018’ the soldiers of the elite Special Forces and the Commandos infiltrated into the military base in the beach front.

Conducting it for the ninth consecutive year, the multinational military field training exercise was aimed to develop a competent special operation forces soldier as a conceptual framework for the employment of special operations forces.

The well-timed operation was dominated largely by Special Force and Commando Regiment troops and backed by sailors, airmen, mechanised infantrymen and foreign troops got off the ground at Kuchchaveli.

It had displayed how a simulated multi-pronged joint amphibious attack on enemy hideouts could be carried out with precision and short notice in a hostile, most challenging and exciting setting.

Since the inception of the war with the LTTE, the Sri Lankan military has extensively strengthened its military capacity with men and sophisticated weapons and also its fighting capabilities through their experiences of fighting with the LTTE for over 30 years and also through their well-designed military exercises. 

Along with 2,500 troops, infantrymen and mechanised infantrymen, inclusive of 400 Sailors and 200 Airmen, the FTX was made up largely of Army Commandos and Special Forces. To the credit of the Sri Lanka Army, the FTX has attracted a total of 64 Foreign Service personnel, representing 19 countries, either as participants or observers in the FTX.

Foreign participants and observers from China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Indonesia, Nigeria, Nepal, Sudan and Zambia had in the three-week training.

State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardena participated as the Chief Guest, together with Defence ministry secretary Kapila Waidyaratne, Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Ravindra C Wijegunaratne, Commanders of the Sri Lanka Navy, Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Air Force Sumangala Dias as special invitees.

The simulated attack of ferocious magnitude, headed by Commandos and Special Forces, joined by MI 24 and MIG fighter jets and Naval fighter craft at sea struck enemy positions.

The FTX is aimed at enhancing the military cohesion, combat preparedness, operational readiness and efficiency of Special Operational Forces and is on par with similar exercises at international levels.

Sharing of military competency, exercising the elites in joint nature ‘interoperability’, experiencing of complex environments and exercise of chain of commands under simulated scenarios, development of common understanding, efficient integration among different arms, military theoretical understanding and acting as an eye-opening platform for special operations, exercising fundamentals of warfare in special operations and the integration into advanced technology to a certain extent, etc., are among major objectives of the annual military exercise – the Cormorant Strike. 

Explaining the main objective and importance of conducting the Cormorant Strike annually, Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake commended efforts of the soldiers to successfully concluding the exercise showing their military might.

“We must not rally on likelihood of enemy is not coming but on our own readiness to receiving is needed. That is what we are doing. Sri Lanka Army always in its readiness to defend the country in all aggressions,” he said.

The Army Chief said that the Cormorant Strike exercise had been designed to enhance the skills, knowledge and experiences of the special operation forces of the Sri Lanka Armed Forces – the Army, Navy and the Air Force – to safeguard the territorial integrity, sovereignty and foreseeable threats in future. 

“Whether it is peace or war, we have two tasks in our hands. It is fighting during war and training during peace. Therefore we have to train our soldiers continuously,” he said.

FTX Exercise Director Maj. Gen. Niyshshanka Ranawana, who tirelessly commanded the entire exercise successfully, said in his introductory remarks that it was designed to empower the experience pre-arranged to soldiers of the Special Operations Forces to be prepared for any security threats.

“The FTX focused on patrolling, infiltration, counter-filtration, reconnaissance and surveillance, combat tracking, link-up, caches, demolitions, raids, ambushes, cut-off and blocks, rescue missions, cat sniping and urban fighting, VIP protection, HALO-casting, combat diving, cyber security, counter CBRN, etc. and other strategic training modules,” he said.

In a message read out, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Maithripala Sirisena appreciated the commitment of the tri-services and their dedication to safeguarding the motherland.

This year’s exercise ‘Cormorant Strike IX – 2018’ was made more comprehensive to suit the most modern techniques adding new features in specific operation segments. Based on a hypothetical scenario, the exercise incorporated web GIS software for operations, improvised digital bird tables and smart boards, separate joint Naval operations, joint night operations, operations conducted by both Special Forces and Commandos in the same area and the conduct of a parachute jump with full combat gear, to highlight a few.

A panel of Exercise Directors, commanded by Maj. Gen. Niyshshanka Ranawana, Director, Exercise with the coordination of the Army Directorate of Training, headed by Director General Army Training Maj. Gen. Aruna Wanniarachchi meticulously planned and executed the whole of the exercise ‘Cormorant Strike IX – 2018’ in a very professional manner until the final phase.

Brig. Krishantha Gnanarathne, Commando Brigade Commander and Col. Wipula Ihalage, Commander, Special Force Brigade, have been serving as Deputy Directors in the Exercise since the Day 1 of the FTX.

The first phase of the exercise ‘Cormorant Strike IX – 2018’ started off from Minneriya on 6 September after a brief inaugural ceremony.

The exercise at its final stages joined directly with Army troops for onslaughts against enemy strongholds and raised the momentum. This year’s Army-initiated mock FTX was organised and implemented together with the Sri Lanka Navy and Air Force, which had been designed for deployment of their troops in a war milieu of Special Operations at any given moment and planned to engage in joint operations as one team, using manoeuvring approach, encompassing core function of find, fix, destroy while planning, execution and mission command which can be made operational at any given scenario.

The three-week long exercise, covered Eastern, Central, Western and North Central Provinces and provided a catalyst to build the capacity of Special Operations Forces of the Army, comprised of parallel seaborne and airborne operations, special combat readiness operations and direct onslaughts against the mock enemy strongholds, conduct of joint operations, execution and planning of special operations, tactics, techniques and procedures, etc. within given time frameworks during the specified period.

In addition, all those participants in the exercise gained a wide practical knowledge on simulating rescue operations, operations of joint amphibious task forces, induction and de-induction of the troops, siege of safe houses, underwater missions, mock ambushes of unconventional types, planning, preparations, formulations, coordination, commands, control, tactics, techniques and procedures, operations within given time frames, air and sea rescue operations, attacks on hideouts, intelligence gathering, etc.

Foreign members of the diplomatic corps were among the invitees, who participated at the mock exercise where the combined troops of the Special Forces showed their skills and carried out a ferocious attack on another enemy camp in close proximity.

The Special Operation Forces during the exercise are expected to undergo an array of rigorous, strong, and unique training schedules to take up any challenge during battles of hostile missions.

The ‘Cormorant Strike’ is the largest joint field exercise in the country, which is conducted to maintain their highest physical efficiency and specialisation in special operational tactics, techniques, procedures, and skills, to be employed for specialised tasks which may come in handy whenever the security of the country is threatened.

Pix by Pradeep Pathirana

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