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Kuwait hosts the multinational Eagle Resolve exercise to counter regional threats

UNIPATH STAFF PHOTOS BY KUWAIT ARMED FORCES

Terrorists seeking to disrupt regional commerce and cause massive economic damage carefully chose their target: Kuwait’s Shuwaikh Port. Because Shuwaikh is one of the country’s largest industrial ports, the threat to this important asset prompted a swift and powerful multinational military response.

Forces from Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Cooperation Council’s Peninsula Shield Force and the United States attacked the terrorists from land, air and sea. They decimated terrorists cowering inside buildings and captured others attempting to escape by boat into the Arabian Gulf after kidnapping port workers.

Kuwait Armed Forces storm Shuwaikh Port during the final Eagle Resolve 2017 training event.

Military leaders watching the scenario from a nearby pier cheered the display of military prowess, part of the Eagle Resolve military exercise. Hosted by Kuwait, the three-week training event in April 2017 brought together more than 3,000 service members and “strengthened cooperation between the GCC and friendly countries,” said Kuwaiti Minister of Defense Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah at an Eagle Resolve Senior Leader Seminar in Kuwait City.

The exercise allows for “exchanging experiences between the participants in order to face any local or regional threat or deal with crises and disasters,” he said. “Such training boosts cooperation between local institutions that deal with crisis management and support security and military operations inside and outside the country.”

Scenarios included a wide variety of threats relevant to today’s dynamic security environment. Events took place across Kuwait and focused on air defense, border and maritime security, counterterrorism operations and crisis management. Eagle Resolve 2017 began with a command-post exercise, followed by field training, and culminated with the Senior Leader Seminar.

Since 1999, Eagle Resolve has been one of the largest Gulf region multilateral military exercises and is held every two years. This is the second time Kuwait has hosted the U.S. Central Command exercise.

Saudi Armed Forces medical staff treat mock victims during the multinational exercise in Kuwait.

Maj. Gen. Ralph H. Groover III, U.S. Central Command’s director of exercises and training, said Eagle Resolve 2017 provides an invaluable opportunity to
build relationships: “Working together, understanding
one another, understanding each other’s tactics, techniques and procedures for responding to threats enhances all of
our capabilities.”

This cooperation went beyond the military realm, as many of Kuwait’s other ministries and agencies participated so that everyone could train in whole-of-government response scenarios.

“We are concerned about defending our Gulf, defending ourselves, our states and our nations,” said Kuwait Armed Forces Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Mohammed Khaled Al-Khader during Eagle Resolve’s final training event at the port. “What is important for us is our continuous training so we can achieve the required level of fighting readiness.”

A consistent element in the exercise was training for emergency responses to explosive devices in urban areas. One day, the multinational forces responded to a simulated bomb threat at a local mosque. On another, they responded to similar threats at local high schools. Enemies have forced the military and security forces to stay alert to these asymmetric threats, explained Lt. Col. Yousif M. Al-Obaidan, deputy chief of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams for the Kuwait Armed Forces. Throughout the exercise, Kuwait Army EOD teams worked with EOD teams from the police and National Guard, as well as from Gulf Cooperation Council countries and the U.S.

“The world is changing. We need to be [able] to confront and handle these asymmetric threats,” Al-Obaidan said.

Kuwait faced such a tragedy when terrorists attacked Kuwait City’s Al-Sadiq mosque in 2015. The attack, for which Daesh claimed responsibility, killed dozens of people and wounded hundreds more. GCC leaders are determined to prevent and respond to these types of vicious attacks on civilians — and to the ideology that supports them.

Multinational troops train in counterterrorism tactics, techniques and procedures during Eagle Resolve.

During the Senior Leader Seminar, Dr. Abdul Latif Al Zayani, secretary-general of the GCC, listed the top security priorities for Gulf countries: fighting terrorism, extremist organizations, organized crime and cyber security threats. Sectarianism and intolerance jeopardize stability and prosperity in the Gulf region, he said, urging these Muslim-majority countries to increase efforts to fight extremist ideologies.

But until the day that extremist ideology loses its hold on recruits, militaries must train to prevent terrorists from harming people, especially those most vulnerable, such as schoolchildren. During the exercise, forces responded to four different terrorist bomb threat scenarios at local schools. Kuwait Armed Forces Maj. Ahmed O. Al-Zuwawi coordinated the response at a high school. A bomb disposal squad used a robot to detonate the explosive remotely, and bomb-sniffing dogs searched for other threats. With the assistance of school and Ministry of Interior officials, his forces evacuated hundreds of students in minutes.

“In the Middle East, we are witness to critical changes and challenges, especially in current times,” Maj. Al-Zuwawi said. “With the emergence of violent terrorist organizations, we need to be prepared for such threats and challenges. We must learn from our mistakes to be up for the challenge.”

Gulf Cooperation Council and U.S. forces train to thwart terrorist attacks and other threats during Eagle Resolve 2017.

As an EOD specialist, Maj. Al-Zuwawi’s job in the military focuses on bombs, land mines and munitions — mostly unexploded ordnance scattered across Kuwait as a result of the invasion by Iraq’s former Saddam Hussein regime.

Exercise participants achieved goals and objectives. Forces conducted search and rescue training, active shooter room-clearing exercises and emergency response to chemical, biological and radiological attacks.

Brig. Gen. Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al-Rabie, commander of the Saudi units participating in Eagle Resolve, expressed pride that his units at the exercise maintained full combat readiness to meet regional challenges. “Gulf security is a joint security responsibility,” Brig Gen. Al-Rabie said. Commanders from Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and the U.S. echoed similar sentiments of shared responsibility for securing the Gulf.

“This exercise is all about building capacity and capability of each of our nations that are participating,” Maj. Gen. Groover said. “We are stronger together as a group than we are individually. This was just another demonstration of how we can come together and act as a force.”

Kuwait Armed Forces Maj. Gen. Ahmad Al-Amiri, assistant general chief of staff of operations and planning, said Eagle Resolve achieved its aims. “It aimed to improve coordination and cooperation between all ministries and public institutions on crises management. It also boosts military cooperation between the GCC armed forces and the United States, especially during regional crises,” he said.

By hosting Eagle Resolve, the Kuwaiti military is acquiring expertise and strengthening the bonds of security cooperation with the GCC and other friendly countries, said Kuwaiti Staff Brig. Gen. Meshaal Abdullah, director of training in the Operations and Plans Directorate. And by allowing Kuwaiti ministries to respond collectively to exercise scenarios, Kuwait also gained unique benefits.

Participants “showed the military skills they have learned — that is what showed me the exercise was successful,” Brig. Gen. Meshaal said.


KUWAIT

“We should systematically increase our efforts to conduct more joint operations and training, which strengthens the military relationship between friendly countries.”

Kuwaiti Minister of Defense Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah

BAHRAIN

“The exercise of Eagle Resolve has been [an] effective, huge, unique and distinguished event. It has highlighted the joint efforts of the countries. The kingdom of Bahrain seeks to exchange and gain experiences like this with the GCC and friendly countries, represented by the United States of America.”

Staff Col. Pilot Ayoub Ahmed, lead Bahrain Armed Forces delegate to Eagle Resolve 2017

SAUDI ARABIA

“Eagle Resolve 2017 is part of efforts to promote mutual cooperation and raise the combat readiness of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, in order to be able to meet regional challenges.”

Brig. Gen. Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al-Rabie, commander of the Saudi units at the exercise

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

“During the exercise, we highlighted all the roles of government agencies and ministries, military and civilian institutions.”

Brig. Gen. Yousef Al Falasi of the General Command of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces

UNITED STATES

“America is working with its partners in GCC countries to maintain the security of the region, and we have military understandings to respond to any threats affecting the Arab Gulf states. In addition to the exercise, the aim is to build capacity for all forces.”

Maj. Gen. Ralph H. Groover III, U.S. Central Command’s director of exercises and training

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