(NSI News Source Info) May 29, 2009: The Royal Navy's TAURUS 09 deployment recently arrived in Bangladesh where sailors and marines took part in a joint naval exercise in some of the most complicated waterways and coastlines in the world. Royal Marines of 40 Commando and Bangladeshi forces patrol the waterways of the Ganges Delta using offshore raiding craft from 539 Assault Squadron to provide protection for land troops [Picture: LA(Phot) Shaun Barlow] Exercise Shomudro Torongo, part of the TAURUS 09 deployment, was aimed at integrating the Bangladeshi and British forces in order to share expertise to combat terrorism and enhance UK environmental training and preparedness for natural disasters in the region. It is the first such interaction between the two nations' naval forces in more than a decade. The five day exercise saw amphibious assault ship HMS Bulwark insert Royal Marines ashore into the Ganges Delta supporting them from sea in a combined training package with their Bangladeshi counterparts. Fast boats and landing craft from 4 and 539 Assault Squadrons Royal Marines pushed the troops ashore and stalked through the riverine environment, supporting a multi-agency search for a 'Contact of Interest'. The environment enabled the marines from Charlie Company, 40 Commando, to practise anti-ambush drills, patrolling and the insertion and extraction of observation posts, culminating in a successful interception and boarding. The exercise was designed to test and train a multitude of cross-governmental agencies, including Bangladeshi security forces, intelligence agencies, police, coastguard and both nations' military forces. Bangladeshi Navy ships, helicopters, Air Force assets and Army Commandos all took part. Support tanker RFA Wave Ruler sat off the coast with a Merlin maritime patrol helicopter from 820 Naval Air Squadron embarked to offer essential CASEVAC (casualty evacuation) support in this complex environment as well as assist in the gathering of intelligence. Royal Navy and Bangladeshi Navy personnel embedded in each others ships for the exercise, providing a truly integrated battle staff. Speaking as the exercise came to an end, Task Group Commander, Commodore Peter Hudson, Commander UK Amphibious Task Group, said: "This has been an ambitious and demanding exercise with some complex hurdles in a challenging coastal and riverine environment. "There has been much to learn on both sides; the Bangladeshi forces have witnessed and learnt from some of the Royal Navy's best practices and in turn the Royal Navy has learnt a huge amount from our hosts, who are far more used to working in such complex waterways. This sort of activity is vital for us - after all, you don't find many waterways such as these in Devon. "All the training objectives were achieved, including the establishment and function of a joint, combined inter-agency command centre, where information and intelligence was shared and analysed between a range of law enforcement agencies. This key objective will assist both countries in their joint efforts to combat terrorism and be prepared for natural disasters in the region." His thoughts were echoed by the Bangladeshi Director, Naval Captain Akhtar Habib, who said: "Shomudro Torongo is the first major joint exercise conducted between the Royal Navy and the Bangladeshi Navy including sister services, paramilitary forces and maritime agencies. "Events like these boarding operations, coastal maritime security operations, joint and combined inter-agency command exercises add significant stride to Bangladeshi Navy capability in maritime security. It has been a resounding success at all levels of exercise." Royal Navy personnel also demonstrated a good example of civil-military co-operation as a team of twenty personnel from HMS Bulwark ventured ashore to assist with building work on a community house in the south of Kutubdia island at Ali Akbardeil village. It gave them a great opportunity to experience at first hand the hardships and living environment of the coastal communities in the area as well as providing a helping hand. The Task Group is now preparing for the next stage of TAURUS 09 which includes an exercise under the Five Powers Defence Agreement in Malaysia and culminates with a major multi-national exercise in Brunei where the participating maritime assets will inject the landing forces (40 Commando Royal Marines) ashore for a training package in the primary jungles of Brunei.
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