Egypt is taking part in two military exercises in the Gulf. Zayed-2 is being staged in the UAE and Hamad-2 in Bahrain. The drills “affirm the depth of cooperation and the strategic partnership binding the Egyptian Armed Forces with their counterparts in brother Arab nations and coordinate efforts to bolster security and stability in the region,” announced the official army spokesman.
Participants in the exercises flew to Bahrain and the UAE last week. Egypt’s Rapid Intervention Forces, Special Forces and logistical support units played a leading role in the joint exercises which were designed to unify combat concepts, promote the transfer of expertise and offer training in the management of naval and aerial combat.
Participant forces took pains to prepare and plan thoroughly for the activities and designated training objectives so as to ensure optimum benefit from the exercises both in terms of honing the skills and tactical acumen of troops and in the exchange of expertise between army commands.
The manoeuvres were held in the framework of ongoing exercises involving the Egyptian army in collaboration with its counterparts in allied Arab countries with the aim of enhancing military cooperation and promoting the transfer and exchange of expertise in military tactics and combat practices.
On Friday, Bahrain announced the arrival of Egyptian naval forces and fighter planes. This is the first time the exercises there are being carried out simultaneously with those in the UAE. The first exercises of the series were held separately. Zayed-1 came first, in March 2014. Hamed-1 took place almost a year later, beginning on 1 April 2015. Military sources stress that while this year’s manoeuvres were scheduled simultaneously they are being conducted independently.
Hamed focuses on naval tasks including maritime reconnaissance of enemy targets, the rapid and precise assumption of combat positions, countering rapid-attack boats and other hostile craft, fighting piracy by intercepting and boarding suspect ships, and laying siege to terrorist bases. The Zayed manoeuvres, by contrast, are more comprehensive in nature. They involve land, naval and air forces alongside special troops engaged in a variety of offensive and defensive missions.
Military affairs expert General Chief of Staffs Mohamed Qashqoush, professor of military sciences at the Higher Nasser Military Academy, explained that the exercises have several political objectives, the most significant being to reaffirm Egyptian support for Gulf states. The Gulf continues to constitute “the strategic depth of Egypt’s vital sphere despite the presence of foreign bases there”, he said. They are the first exercises since the British opened a base in the Gulf.
Qashqoush also stressed that though the presence of Egyptian forces is a common denominator between the two manoeuvres they have been organised separately and address different strategic goals. They also serve to underscore Egypt’s ability to furnish support and participate in operations on multiple fronts.
Qashqoush drew attention to the wide range of tasks involved in both manoeuvres. This diversity within a joint Arab framework is crucial to enhancing the combat and defence efficacy of Arab forces in a regional context and takes into account recent developments in the state of regional security.