Crisis in the Arabian Gulf | Page 36 | World Defense

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International Maritime Exercise 2019 begins in Middle East
Oct. 21, 2019
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Led by Rear Adm. Curt Renshaw, R, the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command addresses senior military leadership from countries participating in International Maritime Exercise 19. The three-week exercise began on Monday. Photo by MCS1 Jason Abrams/U.S. Navy

Oct. 21 (UPI) -- International Maritime Exercise 2019, involving 50 nations and seven international organizations, began on Monday in the Middle East, hosted by the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and the Navy's Fifth Fleet.

The exercise is the sixth of its kind, having last conducted in 2017. It will be held in four phases, including staff build-up and training, seminars and table-top discussions, the at-sea Fleet Training Exercise and redeployment of forces.

Events will be conducted in the Persian Gulf, Sea of Oman, Gulf of Aden and Red Sea, and will involve air, surface and underwater mine countermeasure operations and harbor force protection scenarios with unmanned underwater vehicles, the Command said.

An infrastructure protection symposium and a search-and-seizure seminar are also planned in Manama, Bahrain. The list of participants also includes civilian and maritime industry organizations.

"This year's iteration is the largest yet, expanding in size and geography; including all essential elements of maritime security operations," Vice Adm. Jim Malloy, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, said in a press release. "We've grown participation by about twenty nations, are covering an unprecedented amount of ground in the region, and our multinational team is taking part in more training scenarios than ever before."

The exercise will conclude on November 12.
 

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Air Force F-15Es arrive in United Arab Emirates
The F-15Es arrived at Al Dhafra Air Base on deployment from the 494th Fighter Squadron, stationed at Royal Air Force Lakenheath in Britain, to support ongoing Middle East operations.
Oct. 24, 2019
By Ed Adamczyk

View attachment 11419
U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle fighter planes deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates last week, joining F-35s, KC-10s, E-3s and RQ-4 drones already stationed there. Photo by TSgt. Kat Justen/U.S. Air Force


View attachment 11418
An unknown number of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle fighter planes arrived at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates last week, the Air Force announced on Wednesday. Photo by SSgt. Anna-Kay Ellis/U.S. Air Force

Oct. 24 (UPI) -- F-15E Strike Eagle fighter planes arrived at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, last week to support ongoing operations in the Middle East, the U.S. Air Force announced.

Citing operational security concerns, the Air Force did not specify how many planes arrived, but they join F-35A Lightning II, KC-10 Extender, E-3 Sentry, and RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft at the base.

In a statement on Wednesday, U.S. Air Forces Central Command said the deployment is a "in support of ongoing operations to maintain air superiority, defend forces on the ground, enhance regional partnerships and demonstrate a continued commitment to regional security and stability."

The aircraft are part of the 494th Fighter Squadron, known as the "Panthers," stationed in Lakenheath, Britain.

The Strike Eagle, which first entered service in the 1980s, has been deployed in the past for military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya. Its specialty has been deep strikes against targets, combat air patrols, close air support for coalition troops.

The U.S. Air Force sent next-generation F35-A Lightning II fighter planes to the U.A.E. air base in April.Weeks later they carried out the F-35A's first combat airstrikes when they bombed an Islamic State tunnel network and weapons cache in Iraq.

The F-35s also participated in an "air operations in maritime surface warfare" integration exercise with the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf in July.
 

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Iranian commander vows 'decisive' response if U.S. ships attack
April 24, 2020
By Clyde Hughes
A boat belonging to Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps passes by the USS Hamilton in the North Arabian Gulf on April 15. Photo by U.S. Navy/UPI

A boat belonging to Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps passes by the USS Hamilton in the North Arabian Gulf on April 15. Photo by U.S. Navy/UPI | License Photo

April 24-- A top commander in the Iranian military responded in kind Thursday to a threat from U.S. President Donald Trump to destroy Tehran's gunboats if they "harass" U.S. Navy vessels.

Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps vowed that Iran forces will take action against U.S. "terrorist" ships that harass Tehran's.

"We declare to them that we are absolutely determined and serious in defending our national security, water borders and maritime interests, and that any move [against us] will be effectively and swiftly met with a decisive, effective response," Salami said Thursday.

"We resolutely, effectively and confidently stand up against the threats that jeopardize our national security and territorial integrity; this is not a path that we will walk away from and will keep treading it by God's grace."

Trump said Wednesday he'd directed the U.S. Navy to destroy any harassing Iranian gunboats in waters near the Middle Eastern nation.

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist said Trump's warning was necessary because of the behavior of Iranian boats in the North Arabian Gulf, where U.S. officials say they have recently made "dangerous and harassing" approaches toward U.S. warships.

"What [Trump] was emphasizing was all of our ships retain the right of self-defense, and people need to be very careful in their interactions to understand the inherent right of self-defense," Norquist said.

IRGC boats have come into close contact with six U.S. vessels in the Persian Gulf nearly a dozen times recently, U.S. officials said. Tehran dismissed the claim as a "Hollywood tale."
 

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Iran promises 'slap' for U.S. aggression in Arabian Gulf
29 April 2020

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Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy vessels conduct what the U.S. Navy said were unsafe and unprofessional actions against American ships in the North Arabian Gulf on April 15. The USS Paul Hamilton was conducting joint interoperability operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. Photo by U.S. Navy/UPI | License Photo

April 29 (UPI) -- A spokesman for the Iranian military said Wednesday any aggressive move by the United States in the Persian Gulf will be met with a hard "slap in the face."

Brig. Gen. Abolfazi Shekarchi said such an incursion by U.S. forces into Iran territorial waters would draw an immediate response. U.S. President Donald Trump said last week he'd instructed naval forces to "shoot down and destroy" Iranian gunboats if they harass American ships.

"If [Trump] is telling the truth ... they should know that the smallest move or a single violation of Iran's interests or territorial waters will lead the trespassers to receive a slap in the face," Shekarchi answered.

That slap, he warned, would be "bigger than that of the Ain al-Asad," a reference to the Iranian missile strikes against two American military bases in Iraq in January following the U.S.-ordered killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.

The Pentagon said in February more than 100 U.S. service members at one of the bases had received treatment for brain injuries.

Shekarchi suggested Trump's instructions were mainly a tactic to divert attention away from his own failings, and noted that Persian Gulf waters are open under international law.
"Mr. Trump makes such comments ... in a bid to stir up public opinion and earning scores in the forthcoming election and distancing himself from U.S. domestic issues," he said.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps last week staged a surprise military satellite launch seen by some as an advance of Tehran's long-range missile program, which drew Trump's warning. Earlier this month, the U.S. Navy said Iranian vessels had repeatedly harassed American warships in the Gulf.
 

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US, French navies meet up in North Arabian Sea for interoperability drill

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The US Navy’s USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group (CSG) and the French Navy conducted a bilateral, interoperability exercise in the North Arabian Sea from April 25 to 26.


The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (IKE), guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56) and FS Forbin (D620), operating under national tasking, participated in formation steaming, an air defense exercise and a surface gunnery exercise.

“The French have outstanding naval capabilities,” said Capt. Edward Crossman, commanding officer of San Jacinto.

“We look forward to any chance to work with them as an opportunity to learn and fine-tune our tactics and procedures. It’s an absolute win for San Jacinto’s “gunslingers” to operate with our partners in Forbin. This training makes us stronger as an allied force, dedicated to maintaining regional stability and sustaining freedom of the seas.”

Earlier this year, IKE and the French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R91) and its escorts participated in cross-deck interoperability exercises in the Mediterranean Sea.

The three ships have been at sea for extended periods. As a precautionary measure against the global pandemic coronavirus, no cross-deck of personnel between the ships occurred during the exercise.

IKE Strike Group is deployed to the US 5th Fleet area of operations conducting maritime security operations in international waters alongside our allies and partners.

The ships and aircraft of IKE strike group, commanded by Rear Adm. Paul Schlise and the CSG 10 staff, include flagship USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), commanded by Capt. Kyle Higgins; the eight squadrons and staff of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, commanded by Capt. Trevor Estes, and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26, commanded by Capt. William Shafley.
 

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France Assumes Command of US Task Force 50
Xavier Vavasseur

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Charles de Gaulle CSG. French Navy picture.

The French Navy (Marine Nationale) Charles de Gaulle carrier strike group (CSG) today assumed command of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command's (NAVCENT) Task Force (CTF) 50. Task Force 50 is one of the components of the U.S. naval forces deployed in the Arab-Persian Gulf region.

On March 31, 2021, at the request of the United States, France took command of TF 50 during its presence in the Gulf, for the second time (the first time in December 2015). The Charles de Gaulle CSG is made up of the Multi-Mission Frigate Provence, the Air Defense Frigate Chevalier Paul, the Command and Supply Vessel Var and the Belgian frigate Léopold 1er. It will ensure all the prerogatives generally attributed to an American combat group, including the naval air force of the Inherent Resolve Coalition to fight Daesh in the Gulf.


French Ministry of the Armed Forces statement
France has been cooperating for many years with the United States in the fight against terrorism, in the Sahel as in the Levant. This cooperation confirms the recognition by the United States of the value and operational credibility of the French military.

As mentioned, it is the second time since December 2015 that aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle becomes the flagship of Task Force 50. French Navy vessels regularly join this task force too (Forbin, Jean Bart and Auvergne in 2017).

Charles de Gaulle CSG will likely be in charge of CTF 50 until IKE CSG (with U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Dwight D.Eisenhower) takes over later in April. IKE is likely running late on schedule, following the Ever Given incident in the Suez canal.

For the record, the French CSG set sail on Sunday 21 February for a long operational deployment named “Clemenceau 21”. The CSG is set to be back in Toulon in June.
 

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In Pakistan, Russia's Lavrov Pledges Bilateral Boost To Combat Terrorism
April 07, 2021

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (left) and his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, pose for a picture during a meeting in Islamabad on April 7.

Visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Islamabad on April 7 that Russia will provide unspecified military equipment to Pakistan as the two countries increase cooperation to fight terrorism.

Russia and Pakistan will also conduct joint naval and land exercises, he said.

Lavrov's two-day visit marks the first to Islamabad by a Russian foreign minister in nearly a decade and is widely regarded as part of an effort to foster deeper bilateral relations that have warmed only recently.

Lavrov's meetings with Pakistani officials followed a stop in rival neighbor India and were expected to touch on efforts to establish peace in another neighboring country, Afghanistan.
“We stand ready to strengthen the anti-terrorist potential of Pakistan, including by supplying Pakistan with special military equipment,” Lavrov said.

Moscow has recently sought to assert greater influence in conflict-torn Afghanistan as the United States and other Western powers try to extricate themselves from a two-decade war.

Russia is also helping to construct a gas pipeline between Pakistan's port city of Karachi and eastern Lahore.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Islamabad welcomes Russian expertise on rail and energy-sector modernization.

Qureshi also said Pakistan will purchase 5 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19, which is being used in dozens of countries but has run into regulatory delays in the European Union.

Pakistan’s security establishment is seen as close to the Afghan Taliban, which is fighting the central government in Kabul amid stalled intra-Afghan peace talks, and is said to wield leverage to influence that militant group’s actions.

A May 1 deadline is approaching for U.S. and other foreign troops to leave Afghanistan in line with an agreement Washington signed with the Afghan Taliban in Qatar in February 2020.

Afghanistan has seen a nationwide spike in bombings, targeted killings, and violence on the battlefield as common ground evades peace negotiators in Qatar.

U.S. President Joe Biden has warned that the May withdrawal deadline will be difficult to meet, raising the prospect that the entire agreement with the Taliban will unravel.

Later this month, Taliban and Afghan government representatives are expected to gather for a U.S.-backed international conference in Turkey meant to give new impetus to peace talks.

With reporting by AP and dpa

 
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