Sultan witnesses culmination of Hikmat Bersatu IV
Waleed PD Mahdini

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Minister of Defence and Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF), yesterday led from the front as the monarch consented to visit the closing stages of the 10-day nationwide Exercise Hikmat Bersatu IV.

Piloting a Sultan's Flight Sikorsky S-70 Blackhawk helicopter, His Majesty touched down at the Bolkiah Garrison's Mini Stadium, where the monarch was greeted by Dato Paduka Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat, Deputy Minister of Defence; Major General Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin, Commander of the RBAF; Permanent Secretaries at the Ministry of Defence and senior officers of the RBAF. His Majesty was first given a welcoming briefing by the Commander of the RBAF, which was followed by another briefing on the exercise that was presented by the Exercise Director of Hikmat Bersatu IV, Colonel Pg Haji Zulkifli bin Pg Haji Ismail, Commandant of the RBAF's Training Institute.

The briefing on the morning's final attack on Pulau Muara Besar was given by First Admiral Dato Seri Pahlawan Abdul Aziz bin Haji Mohd Tamit, Commander of the Joint Force Headquarter, RBAF. A short video clip on the exercise was also presented to His Majesty at the end of the briefing.

Exercise Hikmat Bersatu IV is the RBAF's major nationwide exercise that is conducted biennially, which kicked off last April 23. According to a press release from the Ministry of Defence, in this year's series of the exercise, the aims of the manoeuvres were to increase the uniformity of "military implementation in combination level, to train the RBAF's planning and implementation processes, the intelligence to operational phases at the strategic level as well as tactical level and to test the RBAF's Joint Task Force Procedure".

The concept specifically chosen for this year's exercise was for a Low Intensity Conflict in which the strength and capabilities of the RBAF - as the Blue Force - were pitted against "terrorist" forces - known as the Grey Force - operating near the country's border.

As soon as the exercise updates and briefings were completed, His Majesty flew to Muara Naval Base where the monarch boarded one of the Royal Brunei Navy's new 'Ijtihad'-class patrol boats, KDB Afiat, that took the monarch to the exercise area to witness the final attack that was dubbed "Operation Blue Thunder".

Exercise Hikmat Bersatu IV involved all the RBAF services namely the Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ), the Royal Brunei Land Forces, the Royal Brunei Navy, the Royal Brunei Air Force, the Special Forces Regiment, the Royal Brunei Malay Reserve Regiment and the British Armed Forces Second Battalion of the Royal Gurkha Rifles.

From the KDB Afiat, His Majesty witnessed units of the RBAF execute a simultaneous assault to rescue hostages and destroy insurgents trying to flee Pulau Muara Besar as the Blue Forces encircled the enemy base.

As the RBAF edged closer into final attack position, reconnaissance elements of the Special Forces Regiment parachuted into the waters around Pulau Muara Besar and swam stealthily to shore. As soon as the enemy forces were positively identified and plotted, the assault elements that comprised units of the RBLF and the Royal Gurkha Rifles stormed the beaches with the RBLF sweeping up the left flank and their Gurkha counterparts rolling up the enemy's right.

Despite the overwhelming odds and numerical superiority of the Blue Force, the enemy put up a stoic fight to the finish. Amidst deafening explosions of thunderflashes and pyrotechnics, which were compounded further by the rapid fire staccato bursts of machine gun fire, the Blue Forces communicated well and coordinated with confident synergy to win the day.

As the morning heat quickly gave way to menacingly dark storm clouds that were illuminated by thick flashes of lightning, the exercise was called to a safe halt. The troops were rallied around for a group photo with His Majesty, following which the monarch consented to inspect the line and talk to some of the soldiers. His Majesty also consented to sign a parchment to mark the monarch's visit and a doa was read to bless the occasion. - Borneo Bulletin (4 May 2012)