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News | Jan. 31, 2022

60 Nations, International Organizations Kick Off Largest Maritime Exercise in Middle East

By 5th Fleet Public Affairs

The Middle East region’s largest maritime exercise commenced Jan. 31 during a ceremony at U.S. 5th Fleet’s headquarters in Bahrain.

International Maritime Exercise (IMX) 2022, an 18-day biennial naval training event led by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, combines with exercise Cutlass Express (CE) led annually by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa in East African coastal regions and the West Indian Ocean.

The combined training includes 9,000 personnel and up to 50 ships from more than 60 partner nations and international organizations operating across two regions.

“This level of representation demonstrates shared resolve in preserving the rules-based international order,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. “This is a unique opportunity to increase our capabilities and interoperability while strengthening maritime ties.”

IMX/CE 2022 is not only the largest multinational naval exercise in the Middle East but also the largest unmanned exercise in the world with more than 80 unmanned systems from 10 nations participating.

During the exercise’s first day, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and Prime Minister, witnessed part of the International Maritime Exercise, where he was briefed on new unmanned technologies and engaged in the exercise. His Royal Highness visited Naval Support Activity Bahrain where he also was briefed on the activity of the Royal Bahraini Navy participating in the exercise.

In addition, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and Prime Minister stressed the importance of protecting international maritime traffic from threats that adversely impact global trade, thanking the U.S. for their role in this regard, and stressed the need to unify international efforts to further strengthen regional maritime security.

The exercise will allow participating forces to test unmanned systems and artificial intelligence in different training scenarios and ultimately apply the lessons learned to future real-world operations. Training will also focus on enhancing capabilities in command and control, sea control, maritime security operations, and mine countermeasures.

International naval forces participating in IMX/CE 2022 are divided into four geographical combined task forces led by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kenya and Oman. A combined task force called Task Force X was also established for conducting portions of the exercise focused on unmanned systems and artificial intelligence integration.

Cooper is the exercise commander and commodores from Pakistan and the United Kingdom serve as the deputy commander and vice commander respectively.

This is the seventh iteration of IMX since its establishment in 2012. Training evolutions during this year’s combined exercise will span across the Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and North Indian Ocean.

The exercise is scheduled to conclude Feb. 17. A full list of nations and international organizations participating is available at