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News | Aug. 5, 2020

Lebanese Armed Forces, U.S. Navy Conduct Resolute Union Virtually Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Commander U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs

The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and U.S. Navy are conducting Resolute Union (RU) 20, an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and maritime security operations bilateral military exercise being held from 27 July to 9 August.

RU20 is the capstone in a series of bilateral exercises between the LAF and U.S. Navy aimed at maintaining proficiency between the two countries’ armed forces, and increasing interoperability through cooperative training.

Due to the ongoing global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the exercise is being conducted as a “virtual” event without in person contact. Virtual exercises provide an effective level of continuity while mitigating the risk until we can resume live exercises.

“RU20 provides our team a unique opportunity to exchange knowledge and experience with our LAF counterparts, while enhancing our mutual EOD and maritime security capabilities,” said Capt. Stephen Jackson, Commander of Combined Task Force (CTF) 56. “Conducting the exercise virtually allows us to continue taking advantage of those opportunities with our LAF counterparts while mitigating exposure and spread of COVID-19.”

Previous exercises in the series were conducted in Lebanon where U.S. service members trained side by side with LAF personnel. This year’s virtual iteration features LAF personnel in Lebanon and U.S. naval forces in Bahrain conducting military to military exchange remotely, in order to prevent exposure and the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Exercise topics include EOD, dive, and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations. Participating U.S. naval forces include U.S. Navy Divers and EOD technicians, a U.S. Coastguard Maritime Engagement Team (MET), and additional supporting staff members.

“The use of virtual exchanges allows us to leverage established relationships and connectivity, and strengthen interoperability with our regional partners,” said Vice Adm. Jim Malloy, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, Combined Maritime Forces. “RU20 is an example of innovative solutions allowing the U.S. Navy to deepen our relationship with the superb Lebanese Armed Forces navy and marine corps, and continue building interoperability with this capable force - ensuring we fight through and overcome challenges together.”

The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.