U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Derek Snell, executive officer of Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 3/2, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), speaks with a Qatari Officer to discuss the route for an 8 km hike in Al Galail, Qatar, April 25, 2013. Eagle Resolve is an annual multilateral exercise designed to enhance regional cooperative defense efforts in the Gulf Cooperation Council nations and U.S. Central Command. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Juanenrique Owings, 26th MEU Combat Camera)
WASHINGTON – The field training segment of U.S. Central Command’s three-part Eagle Resolve exercise kicked off Saturday, bringing together participants from 12 nations – most from the Gulf region – to promote cooperative regional defense capabilities, according to the lead planner.
Hosted by Qatar, the 11th iteration of the annual, multilateral naval, land and air exercise began April 21 with a command post exercise that wrapped up yesterday, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Gerald Lowe, a member of CENTCOM’s Exercise and Training Directorate, said during a telephone interview from Doha.
Many of the 2,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines participating in Eagle Resolve 13 are arriving at locations throughout Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for the field training exercise that begins April 28 and runs through most of next week, he reported.
Operating with about 1,000 of their counterparts, many from Gulf Cooperative Council member nations, exercise participants will tackle scenarios that cross the land, air and maritime domains. The exercise’s scenarios range from hostage situations to naval and theater ballistic missile attacks to toxic chemical spills, Lowe said. In one planned event, the participants will conduct counter-piracy operations to reclaim a ship that has been seized and return it to the crew’s control, he said. Other scenarios will involve threats to gas and oil platforms and responses to a chemical, biological, radiological incident.
The scenarios have been in the planning for the past 18 months, and all involve fictitious events and perpetrators.
“Any similarities to real-world events are purely coincidental,” Lowe said. The exercise supports several key focus areas: integrated air and missile defense, consequence management, critical infrastructure protection, counterterrorism, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear-passive defense, and interdiction and border security, he said.
The goal, he said, is to increase participants’ tactical proficiency and maritime capabilities and their ability to work together to address mutual challenges and promote long-term regional stability.
Senior leaders will come together to review lessons learned during the command post and field training portions of the exercise, and to discuss ways to further enhance their cooperation, Lowe said.
Eagle Resolve has evolved significantly since it began in 1999 as a seminar among Gulf Cooperation Council nations, Lowe said. It remains Centcom’s premier exercise with its Gulf partner nations, he said, with participants continuing to enhance their own capabilities while gaining better understanding of each other’s ways of operating.
Lowe noted, for example, the big strides made in participating nations’ preparedness in the area of consequence management. This extends beyond military-to-military cooperation, typically as initial responders, to the point that responsibility for the mission is passed to the appropriate national agency, department or ministry.
“That is one of the really big areas where a lot of improvement has been made,” he said.
Eagle Resolve 13 is building on these successes, he said, noting a productive command post exercise that concluded yesterday. “We are learning more and more about each other’s way of doing business,” Lowe said, “and as we start to understand each other better, we are also passing and sharing more information.”
Lowe emphasized that the exercise is a learning experience for all the participants.
“This is not a unilateral learning process,” he said. “We challenge each other. And by challenging each other, we all learn.”
While promoting the spirit of collaboration between U.S. Central Command and the Gulf Cooperative Council nations, Eagle Resolve underscores U.S. commitment to the region, Lowe said.
“The focus is on demonstrating our continued dedication to the region and our regional partners,” he said. “As we do that, we are working to build partnerships with regional partners so we can better cooperate and work together toward the goal of long-term peace and regional stability.”