ASEAN forces take part in joint urban counterterrorism drills

China Daily
Li Jiayao
2019-11-24 00:39:23
The blockade team sets up perimeter around the affected area. [Photo by WANG JING/China Daily]

Exercises held at a PLA training ground in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region sees member countries work together to counter inner-city insurgency threat.

The elite military and armed forces of members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its dialogue countries took part in a live-ammunition, joint exercise in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, on Wednesday to drill counterterrorism missions in urban environments.

The exercise held at the People's Liberation Army Ground Force Southern Theater's training ground simulated the situation that a country is facing severe terrorist threat and required assistance from military and armed forces of 10 ASEAN and its eight dialogue countries, including China and the United States.

Under the framework of the Experts' Working Group on counterterrorism of the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus, a member country can request assistance from other member countries in counterterrorism missions if the situation appears to be out of control and terrorist threats may spread to other countries.

The joint exercise aims to familiarize different forces with the Counterterrorism Task Force Standard Operating Procedure drafted by the member countries for use in urban environments, and to enhance the countries' ability to jointly combat terrorism.

The counterterrorism missions covered three key elements: counter-hijacking in urban environments, seizing control of terrorist camps, and eliminating terrorist camps in mountainous areas. The scenarios put to the test the effectiveness of the multinational Counterterrorism Task Group headquarters in coordinating special assault, ground assault, air assault and mobile strike teams after armed "terrorists" carried out the attacks around a "city" simultaneously including attacking a crowded theater, taking hostages and kidnapping key government officials.

The exercise was designed under the principles of conducting joint operations and piloting innovative tactics for actual combat situations. Officers and soldiers from different countries worked together in different assault detachments to learn from each other and enhance cooperation in combat situation, said Bai Peng, an instructor on counterterrorism at the PLA Army's Special Operation Academy and a member of the exercise's expert panel.

"A new tactical communication network was developed for the exercise to solve the key problems in counterterrorism operation communication in urban environment," said Chen Lei, director of the PLA Ground Force Southern Theater's information security department.

The network supported communications between the multinational troops as well as the communication between air and ground assault teams. It also ensured the transmission of live feeds from the front lines and that all commands reached the counterterrorism task forces, he added.

"Besides using the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, we also used another positioning system, which has been set up around the buildings to better locate the troop's exact locations as buildings in cities may affect the signals of the navigation satellite system to allow us to better assess the combat situation," Chen said.

The exercise was the largest-scale land-based counterterrorism drill since the founding of the Experts' Working Group on counterterrorism in 2011.

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