Joint naval training activities between Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and the United States have concluded on August 4, 2018. The drills were carried out by naval, air and Special Forces of the participating countries in Egypt's territorial waters in the Red Sea near Safaga.
The drills, which began on July 25, 2018, were part of the Egyptian Armed Forces’ strategy to hold increasing numbers of joint maneuvers with friendly and allied nations. Egypt said the exercise’s goal was to hone participants’ skills, build on interoperability, and promote the exchange of training expertise.
According to the Pentagon, the purpose of the drills was “to enhance interoperability and war-fighting readiness, fortify military-to-military relationships and advance operational capabilities of all participating units.”
The Egyptian Navy participated in the training with a number of frigates, rocket launchers, multi-mission aircraft and helicopters, and special naval forces.
The United States participated with the destroyer USS Jason Dunham as well as units from Task Force 52, US 5th Fleet's mine warfare task force. The US delegation was part of Task Group 52.3, and included Sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 6; Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2, Company 25; and the Naval Oceanography Mine Warfare Center.
The UAE participated with a surface ship as well as special naval forces.
Saudi Arabia participated with a team of specialized experts in locating and removing underwater explosives, as well as special naval forces.
Jordan, Pakistan and South Korea participated in the exercise as observers.
The training included the planning and management of joint combat actions for all elements of modern naval warfare, displaying understanding and coordination between the maritime forces of the participating countries, as well as implementing control of large areas of the sea and the ability to resist possible terrorist acts.
The training activities started with a welcoming brief, a number of lectures to familiarize participants with the training activities and relevant theories and decompression chamber familiarization.
The tactical drills included:
- Explosive ordnance and mines disposal, which involves the safe detonation of explosives.
- Operation of unmanned underwater remote control vehicle.
- 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.
- Search and seizure (VBSS) training, which prepares forces to move alongside and board another vessel.
- Search and rescue operations.
- Firing from various positions.
The joint exercise "Eagle Salute 2018" came within the framework of supporting the pillars of joint cooperation between the Egyptian and US armed forces, introducing the latest systems and methods of naval combat and maximizing the joint use of the participating forces in the training, which reflects the depth of the strategic partnership and cooperation of the participating countries.
US Naval Forces Central Command conducts more than 20 bilateral and multilateral exercises with partner nations throughout the region each year. Exercise Eagle Response 2018 was one of numerous exercises vital to the US Navy's theater security cooperation efforts in building and enhancing solid regional and international relationships.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are fighting the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, and the US is providing the coalition with intelligence and logistical support. The exercise started same day that Saudi Arabia, temporarily suspended all oil shipments through the Bab El-Mandeb Strait after two Saudi Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) came under attack by Yemeni Houthi militia. The vessels, each carrying 2 million barrels of oil, belong to the Saudi National Shipping Co. The attack resulted in minor damage to one of the two carriers. There were no casualties or spillage of crude oil into the sea which would have led to an environmental disaster.