Urban Assault: Commando Regiments Hijack Rescue | Sunday Observer

Urban Assault: Commando Regiments Hijack Rescue

The Commando Regiment of the Sri Lanka Army has rendered an invaluable service in combating terrorism.These valiant men don’t often come under the media spotlight and live as a close knit fraternity. Last Thursday afternoon the men of the Four Commando Regiment gave an outstanding demonstration of their counter- terrorism skills and precision team work at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre. The scenario was a typical hijack situation where hostages were held at gun point. The mission of the assault teams was to enter the building, mitigate the insurgent threat and safely escort the hostages.

After doing a reconnaissance of the threat level, a convoy of land rovers entered at high speed and two sections of eight man teams dressed in full black, faces concealed mounted the steps aiming their MP-5 machine guns. At the same time a modified armoured personnel carrier (APC) with a hydraulic ladder also moved into position. Within seconds the two teams that entered with the element of surprise, were supported by a team of specialised dogs-German Shepherds, Dobermans and a robust Rottweiler, who rushed into the area where the hostages were held captive. Suddenly a Bell 212 helicopter descended out of the clouds (taking us by surprise) and six commandos rappelled out from a height of 150 feet into the ceiling level of the Nelum Pokuna. At the same time, the entry of the dogs made the insurgents to panic and in this window of time they were overpowered and subdued.

Having successfully breached and secured the building, the Commando teams escorted the hostages outside. Once outside they continued to search the hostages - a standard procedure as often terrorists throw away their guns and mingle with the hostages to escape. Once again the diligent Doberman was brought into the scene and with its powerful scent sniffing it identified the insurgent, who was cuffed and handed over to the Police. Within minutes this scenario was brought under total control, like a scene from an English action movie.

Though these risk laden encounters take only a few minutes, in reality these men have to practice consistently and maintain their level of readiness. 4 Commando Unit based at Ganemulla is tasked with VVIP Security, Anti- Hijack rescue and counter terrorism and is also home to the Kennels Unit. An officer explained “becoming a Commando is a challenge- for the body, mind and spirit of aspiring young men. During a 38 day selection process, the men are put through various phases of orientation and a few trainees drop out. Those remaining are then sent for 9 months of intense training and once qualified get to wear the coveted maroon beret. It is only later that they can follow the anti- hijack rescue course which lasts around four months. Some specialise as assault men and others as snipers. In a scenario both roles are important- the assault team members storm the buildings while the concealed snipers keep a keen eye and finger on the trigger. The men learn CQB – close quarters battle, unarmed combat and explosives. The assault teams use the world famous Heckler and Koch MP5 Machine gun which has an effective firing range of 200 metres.

The German made MP5 is one of the most widely used submachine guns in the world, having been adopted by many nations and numerous military and security organisations. This weapon has a hammer firing mechanism.

The trigger group is housed inside an interchangeable polymer trigger module (with an integrated pistol grip) and equipped with a three-position fire mode selector that serves as the manual safety toggle The snipers use the AIAW rifle which has an effective range of 800 metres. The teams also practice on ships and aircrafts. The assault teams can carry out raids at night time- using night vision.

Globally, the new battle grounds are the crowded cities, and thus the need for Urban Warfare or the concept of FIBUA- fighting in built up areas takes greater significance.

These are missions loaded with danger as the enemy is already in concealed positions and in secured vantage points. The men of the Commando Regiment anti- hijack team maintain a low profile and will not reveal their facial identity or military ranks. They are a unique band of brothers. These men are the prized warriors of the army.