The trilateral exercise, the first of its kind since 2011, is part of the overall mission to strengthen solid regional partnerships in the mutual defense of the maritime domain in the Northern Arabian Gulf. The U.S.-Iraq-Kuwait trilateral exercise is a quarterly exercise that serves to develop the proficiency of all participating forces to work together in support of regional safety and security.
“It was a good opportunity to reengage with our Iraqi friends in order to secure the area from any threats. We have the same needs for security, and the success of this exercise depended on each other,” said Kuwait Navy Cmdr. Walid Sabti.
The trilateral exercise concept was driven by the desire of the three partner nations to cooperatively address threats that exist in the Arabian Gulf. With a desire to increase its involvement in maintaining security and stability in the region, the Republic of Iraq became a member of the Combined Maritime Forces in February 2016.
“The trilateral exercise with our partners Kuwait and Iraq is a significant milestone,” said Capt. Andrew Arnold, Commodore of Task Force (TF) 55.
TF 55, in charge of surface forces such as U.S. Navy Patrol Craft and U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats, hosted the event which consisted of search and rescue, ship boarding, gunnery training and defensive navigational tactics events.
“We value greatly the role this exercise will play in building security interoperability, as well as for the enhancement of our collective capability to operate forward in the Arabian Gulf and promote maritime stability,” said Arnold.
The exercise comprised of 11 ships with the guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) playing an integral part of the exercise by acting as the command and control ship. .
“Any time we work with our foreign allies, it helps us understand their tactics and systems and they ours. Exercises such as this develop the mutual capabilities of all participating partners and work to ensure that our nations can operate effectively together in the maritime domain,” said Cmdr. Marc Davis, Mahan’s Commanding Officer.
This trilateral exercise will replace the two separate monthly U.S.-Iraq and U.S.-Kuwait bilateral exercises and will support long-term regional cooperation of forces in the Arabian Gulf.
“The ability to work with and relate to allied forces is crucial to deployed units and serves to expand our proficiency. Iraq and Kuwait's involvement is a testament of the strong partnership between our nations and shared interest in maritime security of the region,” said Davis.
TF 55 controls surface forces including U.S. Navy coastal patrol craft and U.S Coast Guard patrols boats in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. U.S. 5th Fleet continues to expand its relationship with Iraq and Kuwait forces through key leader engagements, professional exchanges and by conducting exercises in the Arabian Gulf.