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U.S., Iraq, Kuwait Complete Trilateral Exercise

August 20, 2018

This report originally published at defense.gov.

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The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard completed a trilateral exercise with Iraqi navy and Kuwaiti navy partners in the Northern Persian Gulf, Aug. 15.

The exercise focused on improving collective proficiency in maritime security tactics between the three nations and ensuring the freedom of navigation throughout the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, officials said.

Participants included the U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans, U.S. coastal patrol ships USS Tempest and USS Chinook, U.S. Coast Guard Island-class patrol boat USCGC Monomoy, Iraqi navy patrol boat P 303, and Kuwaiti navy patrol boat KNS Al-Garoh. The Sullivans led command and control of each event throughout the exercise.

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Exercise events included live-fire gunnery exercises, visit, board, search and seizure team training, maritime infrastructure protection drills, search and rescue training, and high-value unit protection operations.

“This has been such a rewarding experience,” said Navy Seaman Karen Rodriguez, assigned to The Sullivans. “I was a part of the small boat operations we conducted with the Iraqi and Kuwaiti navies, and was able to watch our partners maneuver in the gulf alongside us. It’s reassuring to know we have strong partners in this area with common goals and it was really great to see it first-hand.”

Navy Cmdr. Russ Moore, The Sullivan’s commanding officer, felt the exercise helped develop collective maritime security tactics.

“Kuwait and Iraq play a key role in maintaining maritime stability in this region,” Moore said. “This trilateral exercise was an opportunity for all of us to flex our capabilities and learn more about our collective capability. We proved that our nations have the commitment and capacity to collectively preserve the free flow of commerce and freedom of navigation in the Gulf.”

Supporting Regional Stability

The exercise was led by Task Force 55, and is part of a routine theater security cooperation engagement serving as an opportunity to strengthen tactical proficiency in critical mission areas and support long-term regional stability.

TF 55 controls surface forces in the 5th Fleet area of operations, such as U.S. Navy patrol craft, U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats and independently deployed ships.

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The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses nearly 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The region is composed of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab-al-Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.

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