Egypt and Saudi Arabia concluded an eight-day joint naval drill on Thursday, 30 January. Morgan-16, the Egyptian-Saudi Arabian military training exercise which used Egypt’s new Red Sea naval base Berenice, aimed to strengthen maritime security in the area.
Activities were programmed with an eye on confronting current and future threats, enhancing interoperability between naval forces of friendly nations bordering the Red Sea and to hone the abilities of participant naval forces in planning, command and control, and communications while carrying out joint operations against unconventional threats and securing the Red Sea maritime theatre. A number of Arab and African nations participated as observers.
Egypt’s guided missile frigate Taba, the transport and munitions ship Halayeb and several missile boats and their crews took part in the exercise. Saudi Arabia was represented by the Riyadh frigate and a PGG-class patrol missile boat.
Activities included lectures and training seminars, an exhibition of weapons and equipment used in the drills and practical exercises such as tactical targeting using small weapons and a raid against a coastal target undertaken by sniper units using live ammunition. The exercises honed the skills of participant forces, promoted an exchange of expertise between Egyptian and Saudi participants, improved the combat efficacy of naval forces and increased familiarity with the naval armaments systems in use in the region.
Marine forces from both Egypt and Saudi Arabia carried out visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) simulations, vertical and horizontal attacks, and a raid to seize control of a hostile island. Other drills highlighted the night-time targeting skills of special forces and their stealth and precision in undertaking counter-terrorist operations at sea.
There were wireless communication and signalling exercises and search and rescue operations for aircraft and ships stranded at sea, alongside an electronic warfare exercise demonstrating the value of electronic jamming and decoy action in protecting naval units. A simulated battle at sea profiled the proficiency, speed and accuracy of participant ships in taking up battle positions and manoeuvring and carrying out combat tasks which included using live ammunition to intercept hostile surface targets, protecting ships against aerial attacks and refuelling at sea.
Morgan-16 is one of several joint military drills Egypt holds with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain to address threats in the Red Sea region, an area vital to the national security of all four countries and to regional security as a whole. In addition to bilateral exercises Egypt engages in multilateral exercises such as the Red Wave naval drills of which there have been two so far. Red Wave-2, which took place in Saudi Arabia in September 2019, brought together forces from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Sudan, Yemen and Djibouti. Preparations are underway for a third edition of the drill.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 6 February, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.