x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

UAE hosts military drills for GCC and US

Fourteen countries will participate in a multilateral military drills that will include training for chemical warfare and border security.

ABU DHABI // Groups from 14 countries are taking part in two weeks of military drills that began in the UAE on Tuesday.

The 12th annual Eagle Resolve 2011 is designed to enhance co-operation between GCC countries and the US Central Command (Centcom).

This year's exercises involve hundreds of troops as well as representatives from government sectors and civil authorities from Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the US. The exercises will be directed by Centcom, according to WAM, the state news agency.

Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, France and South Korea are participating as observers.

The military drills and exercises are taking place on "land, territorial waters and the airspace of the UAE and a number of training areas of Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait", according to WAM.

"Our participation in Eagle Resolve highlights our dedication to GCC regional partners and our combined efforts to sustain regional security and stability," said Gen James Mattis, the Centcom commander, yesterday.

"The United States is committed to regional security with our allies in the Arabian Peninsula. Regularly scheduled exercises such as Eagle Resolve allow us the opportunity to operate with, contribute to and learn from our Gulf partners," he said.

The drills include exercises on chemical, biological and radiological warfare, border security and medical procedures.

The training also includes a theoretical component, with discussions and seminars on tactics, co-operation, regional stability and developing military and maritime capabilities.

"The exercise will enhance the process of deterrence against weapons of mass destruction, crisis and disaster management and anti-terrorist operations. It will also bolster international maritime security as per the joint defence agreement and defence co-operation between the GCC and the US," reported WAM.

Last year, Centcom hosted a different type of military exercise in the UAE. Leading Edge 2010 brought together troops from 30 nations and focused on the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), an international effort designed to help prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

PSI benefits the participating nations by providing them with a forum to share their lessons and tactics. Most of the exercises occurred in Mina Zayed port in Abu Dhabi.

Last year, Maj Gen Benjamin Bartlett of the US Air Force and director of exercises and training at Centcom said: "I think [Leading Edge 2010] benefited a lot of the countries in this area because they have some of the same equipment that we do. It gave them a chance to see how we utilise it and take advantage of the capabilities that the aircraft, the tank, the ship might have. It allowed them to see what that equipment can do for them with people who have been using it for a while. At the same time, we got some pretty good ideas out of it as well. They utilise the equipment in a certain way we might not have thought about.

"Our largest measure of success is the relationships that we will build by doing a joint exercise in this multinational environment," he said.

The UAE has been benefiting from the expertise of the US Air Force since 2009, when a group of UAE fighter pilots were invited to take part in two weeks of combat exercises at Nellis Air Base, north of Las Vegas, Nevada.

The drills, known as Red Flag exercises, train pilots from the US and its allies in realistic war scenarios, including bombing exercises, and occur around four times a year. Fewer than 30 countries have been invited to Red Flag.

"Red Flag is about gaining experience and meeting pilots of different nationalities and learning new combat skills and ways to strength and improve our Air Force," he said.

hkhalaf@thenational.ae