Cormorant Strike underway: All set for amphibious assault on Silavathurai beaches


By Shamindra Ferdinando

‘Exercise-Cormorants Strike’, the first joint security forces (Blue forces) exercise involving several thousand troops got underway Sunday (Nov. 21) evening with the SLAF inducting Special Forces and Commandos into enemy (Red forces) held area in the north-western region.

The SLAF mission involved helicopters and Y 12 fixed wing aircraft in the aftermath of the Special Boat squadron (SBS) securing beaches ahead of a large scale amphibious landing also in the same area on Wednesday (Nov. 24).

The nine-day ‘Cormorant Strike’ is the first post-LTTE era joint exercise conducted on an amphibious setting on the north-western coast.

The twice-put off training exercise was scheduled to be held in the Vanni east, where the Army’s 58 and 53 Divisions finished off the LTTE in the third week of May last year.

The exercise coincides with LTTE’s ‘Heroes Week’ events in the West. The LTTE organised weeklong celebrations in areas under its control in the Northern and Eastern provinces culminated with its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s birthday speech until 2008.

Navy headquarters spokesman Captain Athula Senarath yesterday told The Island that Amphibious Task Force 505 (ATF 505) had been given a series of tasks ranging from inducting and de-inducting troops to providing naval gun fire support.

The naval element would comprise three segments with the first involving SLNS Shakthi (Landing Ship Tank), L 821 (Landing Craft Utility) and 10 Inshore Patrol Craft (IPCs) tasked with carrying out a major amphibious landing at first light on Wednesday.

The second segment includes two Fast Gun Boats (Ranadeera & Wickrema II), three Fast Attack Craft and 23 ‘Arrow’ type assigned to escort SLNS Shakthi-led group.

The third segment involves induction of troops by sea at a different location. Troops assigned for this particular operation would go for targets far away from the beachhead.

Captain Senarath said that the ATF 505 would also be involved in de-inducting some of the troops engaged in the exercise. The SBS, too, would be involved in the ground exercise, he said, adding that they would have an opportunity to test a combined task force at every level.

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