US, UK conduct 24-day long Bay of Bengal military ‘interoperability’ training with Bangladesh

[TamilNet, Thursday, 12 March 2020, 23:47 GMT]
The US and the UK military trainers on “small unit tactics and maritime tasks” have been training the Bangladesh Navy and Army on “counter-terrorism” and “interoperability” of all the three militaries in the Bay of Bengal, media reports from Dhaka said on Tuesday. The three countries remained committed to a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) concept, according to the reports that cited US Ambassador to Bangladesh and the navy officers of the Bangladesh Navy. The training programme, code-named “Operation Monogram” and “Ex Thunder Fist” launched on 16 February, concluded in Chattogram (Chittagong) on Tuesday this week. The operation was the first-ever tri-lateral exercise involving US, UK and Bangladeshi militaries, news reports from Dhaka said.

EX Thunder Fist
[Photo courtesy: US Embassy in Bangladesh]


US Ambassador Earl Miller and Bangladesh Navy Rear Admiral Mohammed Shaheen Iqbal, as well as the Deputy High Commissioner of the UK Javed Patel, attended a ceremonial event of the US, UK and Bangladesh Special Operations exchange, according to media reports and a statement issued by the US Embassy in Dhaka.

Maritime exchange segments incorporated the use of the SWADS’ newly acquired Metal Shark boats, recently transferred from the United States to the Bangladesh Navy, ideal for operating in Bangladesh’s predominantly riverine and coastal landscape, according to the US Embassy press release.

The military relationship among Bangladesh, the UK, and the United States is vital for the security and stability of the Bay of Bengal and a testament to the three countries’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region, it added.

EX Thunder Fist
[Photo courtesy: Daily-Sun, daily-sun.com]
Forty participants of Bangladesh Navy’s elite Special Warfare Diving and Salvage (SWADS) unit and ten participants of the Bangladesh Army’s Special Forces 1st Para-Commando Brigade took part in the training from Bangladesh.

The US Navy SEAL grooms the SWADS since 2008.

Today, the elite force is believed to be one-thousand strong. It has also adopted tactics used by the Korean UDT/SEAL forces.

EX Thunder Fist
Special Warfare Diving and Salvage (SWADS) of Bangladesh Navy, Special Forces of UK and USA jointly conduct an anti-militant exercise on the concluding day of ‘EX Thunder Fist’ at Patenga in the port city on Tuesday. [Photo courtesy: Inter-Service Public Relation Directorate (ISPR)]


In the meantime, the training and capacity-building programme, known as “Operation Monogram” is usually the name given to the UK’s Ministry of Defence project, which aims at providing Counter-Terrorism Strategy (CONTEST) and Counter-Insurgency (COIN) training and equipment to foreign security forces.

The UK’s CONTEST/COIN programme has sought to stop al-Qaida in the beginning and the recent years the Daesh from spreading.

UK’s Operation Monogram with Kenya became widely criticised by the human rights groups as the Kenyan military deployed terror tactics in the course of its “counter-insurgency” warfare in the slopes of Mount Elgon region of Kenya along the border to Uganda in July 2008. The British-trained Kenyan Army’s elite squad, 20 Para, was accused of committing widespread human rights abuses against civilians near the Ugandan border while it was claiming to fight against the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF).


[Video courtesy: TAMAM বাহিনী ]


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