Special forces from Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the US took part this week in the joint Egyptian-US naval manoeuvres Eagle Response in the Red Sea.
Military Spokesman Colonel Tamer Al-Rifaai said that in preparation for the drills lectures and other activities were held to familiarise participants with the theory underpinning the field skills and combat tactics used by special forces.
The exercises included marksmanship drills, explosive ordinance disposal training, practice in managing joint combat activities, including diving, carried out in daylight and at night, to secure maritime areas from a wide variety of threats, simulated search and rescue operations, underwater detonation drills and simulated visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) exercises.
The Eagle Response drills aim to hone participants’ skills, build on interoperability and promote the exchange of training expertise.
They began as soon as naval units from the US and the UAE arrived to take part in the joint Eagle Salute 2018 manoeuvres which kicked off with an inaugural conference.
The drills, which began on 25 July, are part of the Armed Forces’ strategy to hold increasing numbers of joint manoeuvres with friendly and allied nations. Their purpose, said Al-Rifaai, is “to broaden the horizons of military cooperation and the exchange of training expertise using the latest combat systems”.
“They seek to bolster cooperation between the Egyptian and US armed forces, to build familiarity with the latest naval combat techniques and optimise the mutual benefit of the forces participating in the drills in a manner that reflects the depth of the partnership and strategic cooperation among the participant nations.”
In addition to the four participant forces (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the US), three other countries took part as observers: Jordan, Pakistan and South Korea.
The US Defense Department reported that the US 5th Fleet’s mine warfare task force had been dispatched to take part in the exercises.
The Pentagon lauded the performance of the Egyptian forces taking part in the drills and added that their purpose was “to enhance interoperability and war-fighting readiness, fortify military-to-military relationships and advance operational capabilities of all participating units”.
US Navy Lieutenant John James, the exercise’s commander, was quoted in the report as saying: “We are fortunate to have this opportunity to build strong relationships to strengthen our maritime security capabilities. Training opportunities like these give our sailors the unique chance to learn from different nations and show them what we can do.”
The report added: “Eagle Response is one of numerous exercises vital to the US Navy’s theatre security cooperation efforts in building and enhancing solid regional and international relationships.”
The focus on underwater naval exercises, including submarine detonation drills, unmanned vehicle operations and anti-terrorism/force protection dives complemented Eagle Salute 18’s surface exercises, said the Pentagon.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 2 August 2018 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Joint naval drills