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(Pics by Chandana Wijesinghe)

The field training war exercise provided training to Armed Forces personnel and also helped participants from different countries to share experiences and knowledge

The annual joint field training war exercise by the three forces was held last week for the sixth consecutive year. “The Cormorant Strike VI – 2015” which began on September 3 (Thursday) concluded on September 23 (Wednesday) with a final mock fight which showed how to defeat the enemy. Army, Navy and Air Force troops who actively joined in numerous live attacks to defeat the LTTE terror outfit began their war exercise which is known as ‘Diyakawa’ in Kokilai in the first week of September. This exercise recalled their contribution, sacrifices, eagerness, dedication and love for the motherland.

Like in the previous years, the armed forces invited forces personnel from foreign countries to join in their exercise. The demonstration of the final fight took place last Wednesday at Punnakuda in Batticaloa in the coastal belt of Sri Lanka’s east. Accordingly, a record breaking number of (53) foreign soldiers and officials, from eight countries, was involved in the exercise as participants or observers.

Army Media Director Brigadier Jayanath Jayaweera told media representatives at the event that as many as 2500 infantrymen participated in the exercise.  The majority of participants comprised Commandos and Special Forces of the Army while 245 sailors from the Sri Lanka Navy and 140 airmen from the Sri Lanka Air Force participated in the exercise to share their experiences in the battle field. There were also forces representatives from Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan and the United States.

The mission of Diyakawa is mainly aimed at providing training to Armed Forces personnel to act during emergency situations and occurrences related to national security. Another major goal in the exercise was for participants from different countries to share experiences and knowledge.

The first phase of the ‘Exercise Cormorant Strike VI – 2015’ and the inaugural ceremony took place in Kokilai. Chief of Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Kolitha Gunatilleke graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. Other rominent personalities who participated at the event were Lieutenant General Crishanthe De Silva, Commander of the Army, Commander of the Navy Vice Admiral R.C Wijegunerathna and Commander of the Air Force Air Marshal Gagan Bulathsinhala.

The most interesting segment was the final fight between Bango Freedom Fighters and Nigara Force. The simulated enemy camp attack took place at the picturesque coastal belt of the Punnikudah in Batticaloa. Large crowds watched the thrilling and rare scenes that were depicted in the mock operation.  MI 24, MIG fighting jets as well as Naval fighter crafts and many other crafts were utilized in the mock mission.

Foreign participants as well as observers were happy with the practical knowledge and experiences which they gained during the mock rescue operations, operations of joint task forces, induction and de-induction of the troops, siege of safe houses, under water missions, unconventional type mock ambushes, planning, preparations, formulations, coordination, commands, control, tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP), operations within given time frames, air and sea rescue operations, attacks on hideouts, intelligence information gathering and many other tactics.

Officials told The Nation that the three-week long ‘Exercise Cormorant Strike VI – 2015’ covering Pulmudai to North of Arugam Bay in the East, consisted of parallel mock seaborne and airborne operations, special combat readiness operations and direct onslaughts against enemy strongholds, conduct of joint operations with good communication means, execution and planning of special operations, tactics, techniques and procedures, etc within given timeframes. The exercise included patrolling, infiltration and exfiltration, reconnaissance and surveillance, combat tracking, link-up, caches, demolitions, raids, ambushes, cut-off and blocks, rescue missions, cat Sniping, urban fighting and disaster relief missions.

Major General Maithri Dias functioned as the Exercise Director and Major General Darshana Hettiarachchi acted as the former’s deputy on the guidelines, given by Major General Mano Perera, Commander, ARTRAC. Commodore Ravindra Tissera commanded the participants from the Navy while Wing Commander Deshapriya De Silva commanded the Air Force participants.

Special Operations Commander Brigadier HHASPK Senarathna along with other officials also actively contributed to the success of the exercise from the inception of planning the exercise till the conclusion.

Most of the foreign soldiers also joined in mock attacks on makeshift Air Defence Control Headquarters at Thoppigala and elsewhere throughout the final phase. Others joined the exercise from different operation points. Further, those foreign Defence Attaches also attended the closing phase of the exercise.

The exercise, where Sri Lankan Tri-Forces were predominantly involved, showed both foreign participants and the world, via national international media, that the Sri Lankan forces’ were disciplined and had talent, skill, and the ability to carry out operations in incompletely different environments.

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