CENTCOM Exercises 2013 Year in Review

Middle East and North Africa
Central Eurasia

Annually, the United States’ Central Command (CENTCOM) organizes several bilateral and multilateral exercises within its area of responsibility, which extends from Egypt to Central Asia (excludes Israel). These exercises range from simulated peacekeeping operations to countermine drills at sea. Below is a roundup of a number of these exercises carried out in 2013. This list provides basic details, with more information available by clicking on the hyperlinks provided.

Multilateral exercises:

Leading Edge 13

  • Leading Edge 13 brought together 450 participants from 29 different nations in a U.S. and United Arab Emirates co-sponsored multilateral Proliferation Security Initiative exercise. According to the U.S. Central Command press release, the goal of Leading Edge was “to provide an opportunity for nations to focus on critical elements of the Weapons of Mass Destruction-interdiction process.” The exercise took place from January 27-February 7 in Abu Dhabi, and according to the exercise factsheet, it also occurred in October 2006 and January 2010.


Eagle Resolve

  • From April 21 – May 6, Eagle Resolve was carried out in various locations throughout Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. While CENTCOM first wrote that the following countries were invited - Bahrain, Egypt, France, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom – CENTCOM Deputy Director for Training and Exercises Guy Zero stated in July that 18 of the 20 countries that fall under CEN TCOM’s responsibility participated in the exercise, with Syria and Iran not attending.  
  • This annual exercise is the “the premier USCENTCOM exercise with our Gulf partner nations since its inception in 1999,” according to Major General Robert Catalanotti. The exercise intends to strengthen cooperative defense, specifically, “integrated air and missile defense, consequence management, critical infrastructure protection, counter-terrorism, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear-passive defense, interdiction, and border security.” 2,000 U.S. military personnel from all services participated in this exercise.


International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX 13)

  • IMCMEX 13 is a multilateral defense exercise sponsored by the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet, which took place from May 6 - May 30 in the Arabian Gulf. The exercise involved over 6,500 service members and 35 ships from over 40 participating countries – including Qatar, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia – making it the largest such exercise in the region. According to the IMCMEX 13 official Facebook page, the mission of this exercise “is to execute a multilateral exercise with the widest possible regional and international participation to examine, practice and develop mutual maritime activity across the region to preserve freedom of navigation and promote infrastructure protection.”
  • Vice Admiral John W. Miller, Commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet, stated, “we are very pleased to see that more than 40 nations have joined us here to take part in this opportunity to enhance international naval capability to preserve freedom of navigation international waterways.” In addition to the countermine operations, this year’s exercise introduced “shipping escort and visit, board, search and seizure operations.”


Eager Lion

  • Eager Lion is an annual exercise in Jordan, which took place from June 9 - June 20 and involved the United States and 19 other nations, such as Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, with over 5,000 American troops from all service branches participating. Jordan serves as the annual location for the exercise. According to Major General Awni al Adwan, Chairman of the Joint Task Force of the Jordanian Army, “this exercise is designed to encounter national security challenges such as counterinsurgency, border security, close air support and integration of the whole of government.”
  • For more information on Exercise Eager Lion 2013, please read our recent blog.


Regional Cooperation 13 (RC13)

  • 250 people attended the multilateral RC13 exercise in Germany from July 8 - July 18, with Kazakhstan serving as the exercise’s official “host.” The exercise included representatives from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
  • Colonel Patrick Connelly, Exercise Division Chief at USCENTCOM’s Directorate of Exercises and Training, explained the purpose of this exercise when he stated, “Our goal for RC 13 is to present the training audience with a complex scenario that requires a collaborative effort to tackle. Our partners are accustomed to working one-on-one with the U.S. This exercise expands on those bilateral relationships to create a multilateral environment where regional neighbors collectively respond to a regional crisis.”


Steppe Eagle

  • Exercise Steppe Eagle is an annual, multilateral military exercise that was held in Almaty, Kazakhstan from August 10- August 23 in 2013. The exercise focused on peacekeeping operations, with activities ranging from camp security to riot control. 1,600 military personnel attended from various countries such as Kazakhstan, Britain, Italy, Lithuania, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and the United States.
  • For more information on this exercise, please read our recent blog.


Bright Star

  • U.S. President Barack Obama cancelled this biennial exercise between the United States, Egypt, and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states. President Obama stated, “While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back.” Exercise Bright Star 2013 was scheduled to take place in September and involve joint air assault operations and amphibious landings.


In addition to the aforementioned multilateral U.S. Central Command exercises, here are some bilateral exercises between the United States and partner nations in the region in 2013:


Desert Falcon

  • On February 27, aviation units from the Royal Saudi Land Forces and the U.S. Army engaged in Exercise Desert Falcon. This two-week exercise occurred in Saudi Arabia’s southern region. Saudi Ministry of Defense Spokesmen Major General Ibrahim Al-Malek said, “The two-week exercise is aimed at raising pilot efficiency and comes within the framework of military cooperation between the U.S. and the Kingdom.”


Sea Solider

  • 200 Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) took part in a two-week joint exercise with the Royal Omani Army from April 20 - May 4. According to Lance Corporal Joshua Rios, “We did a lot of bilateral training, clearing out buildings with the Omani army, training exercises and night raids.”


United States-United Arab Emirates

  • The 97th Heavy Artillery Regiment of the United Arab Emirates and the U.S Army’s 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery partook in a 10-day exercise from September 22 - October 1. This exercise “tested joint capabilities for the first time between the two units that operate the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, known as HIMARS.”


Neon Response

  • From October 21 - October 31, Bahrain’s Royal Field Engineering Unit, a part of the Royal Bahrain Naval Force, participated with U.S. Naval Special forces in a joint tactical exercise. Specific operations a part of Neon Response included, “Marine combat operations, implementation of defensive positions, means of dealing with various types of explosives, search exercises, and finding and dissembling marine and land mines.”


Combined Capstone Exercise (CAPEX)

  • The Air Defense Artillery Patriot School at 3rd Battalion, 6th ADA hosted soldiers from the United Arab Emirates in a 10-week long bi-lateral exercise at Fort Still, Oklahoma. CAPEX focused on “maintaining, emplacing and reloading the Patriot launcher.” Sergeant 1st Class Shawn Daly, a participant in the exercise, stated, “The Combine Capstone Exercise provided all students with the unique opportunity to conduct tactical operations with our foreign military partners at a very early stage in their careers.”


Desert Talon

  • The Texas Army National Guard’s 36th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) partook in Exercise Desert Talon with military forces from the United Arab Emirates. The exercise sought “to further the development of AH-64D Apache TTPs and assess the aircraft’s efficacy against small watercraft that potential adversaries could employ against coalition forces.” Desert Talon was the first “joint overwater live fire exercise over the Arabia Gulf.”


NCTF-52 Mine Countermeasures

  • NCTF-52 started on December 8 and will continue through December 18 in the Arabian Gulf with the British Royal Navy. The purpose of the exercise is to increase the participants’ ability to handle “manned and unmanned mine countermeasure systems, like SeaFox, MK 18 underwater unmanned vehicle and other emerging MCM technologies.” Commander Task Force 52 (CTF-52) commands mine warfare forces in the region and partook in 9 exercises last year.


This post is written by Transparency and Accountability intern Eddie Bejarano.