Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States conducted in late July 2019, a joint drill aimed at bolstering regional maritime security. Saudi Arabia participated in the exercises as an observer.
Naval and air forces from the three countries took part in the “Eagle Salute – Eagle Response 2019” exercise, which took place in Egypt’s territorial waters in the Red Sea and the port of Safaga.
The Eagle Salute drills were conducted as a part of the annual partnership training between multiple nations (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) and are hosted annually by the Egyptian navy in the Northern Red Sea.
The exercise took place amid high tensions in the region. Washington and Tehran have been at loggerheads since May 2018, when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from a landmark 2015 deal that put curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
British authorities seized an Iranian tanker off its overseas territory of Gibraltar on suspicion of breaching EU sanctions against Syria against a backdrop of brinkmanship between Washington and Tehran. Tehran retaliated and captured a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
The Main Phases of the Exercise
The exercise included naval vessels from all three countries, including frigates, missile-launching boats, and mine-hunters. Special naval units, the coast guard, and F-16 jet fighters also took part in the drills.
The exercise included two main parts: Eagle Salute 19 (ES19) was a surface exercise designed to enhance interoperability and war-fighting readiness, fortify military-to-military relationships, and advance operational capabilities of all participating units.
Eagle Response 19 (ER19) was an explosive ordnance exercise to provide opportunities for participating nations to collaborate on an even wider range of maritime security operations.
While in Safaga, the exercise was preceded by a joint conference and theoretical lectures for the participant forces in order to establish strong cohesion and communication among them and unify their operational concepts before they started the drill. Special Egypt and US forces began the drill by conducting a search of a suspected ship.
The sea exercise included detecting and neutralizing sea mines, defending and countering non-stereotyped threats and conducting live shooting training on surface and air targets day and night; Training in search and rescue operations, detection of enemy submarines, training on protecting vital sea targets, implementing the right of visit and inspection of suspected vessels by special naval forces; Training on dry supply and refueling at sea and implementing sailing formations that showed the extent of coherence and coordination between the units involved in the training and their ability to take the offensive and defensive conditions that enable them to deal with different goals.
The joint exercise Eagle Salute – Eagle response 2019 came within the framework of supporting the pillars of joint cooperation between the Egyptian, US, Saudi Arabia, and UAE 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.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and UAE are fighting the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, and the US is providing the coalition with intelligence and logistical support. The exercise has also been conducted on the background of growing tension between the US and its regional allies and Iran.
The exercise aimed to strengthen cooperation between the Egyptian Armed Forces and friend and brotherly countries, share knowledge of the latest in military systems and techniques, and strengthen the efforts to achieve naval security and stability in the region.
[Sources: Asharq al Awsat, Army Update, Ahram Online, Egyptian MoD]