Joint exercises help the Gulf states consolidate their military operations and are key to countering the threat from Iran, which has been attempting to expand its sphere of influence in the region, military experts told Al-Mashareq.
Military units from Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) member states on Saturday (March 9th) concluded the "Island Shield 10" joint exercises in Saudi Arabia, which had kicked off on February 23rd.
"The expansionism that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is trying to impose in the Middle East, especially in the Gulf region, can only be countered by building a joint Gulf defence strategy to be its main deterrent," said Saudi military expert Mansour al-Shehri.
The threat posed by the IRGC is manifest in "the military arms it is trying to plant in the region", he told Al-Mashareq.
"Maintaining the security of the Gulf region can only be achieved by maintaining a unified military approach based on a defined strategy centred on confronting threats collectively," al-Shehri said.
This upholds the security of the Gulf "as a red line that cannot be crossed", he said, adding that the joint drills send a message "directed specifically at Iran".
The GCC posture "converges with the US determination to curb the threats posed by the IRGC and thwart its plans, not only in the Gulf region", he said.
Island Shield exercises
The Island Shield exercises are among the largest conducted in the Gulf region to date, Kuwaiti Army infantry officer Lt. Col. Nasser Rashed told Al-Mashareq.
Ground, sea and air forces have participated, as well as strategy teams, border guard forces, air defence units and tactical and security teams, he said.
All the Gulf states are taking part in these exercises, "which underscores the joint defensive strategy to counter common threats or any threats to any one of the countries taking part in the exercises", Rashed said.
The drills are conducted with live ammunition "under highly realistic conditions, simulating actual battle conditions through the use of the latest technology", Rashed said.
The recently concluded drill was conducted in four stages, he said, with the first three covering joint military tactical training exercises.
It concluded with a joint military parade with all the participating teams represented, attended by senior commanders from participating countries.
Unity despite differences
Joint military exercises undertaken by GCC states "underscore permanent military co-ordination between these states, despite political differences, to counter any common threat", said Qatari military expert Riyad al-Ali.
Any threat to any Gulf state is a threat to all the countries of the region, he told Al-Mashareq, and therefore "it is imperative to maintain this co-ordination through a partnership with the US, which plays a key role in this regard".
The participation of the Qatari army in exercises on Saudi soil is "evidence of the unity of the strategic decision, unaffected by the political differences", he said.
Political tension will dissolve over time owing to the strong social, historical and geographic ties between GCC member states, al-Ali added.
Hezbullah is a tool of Zionism in the region. These sanctions are for media consumption and nothing more.Reply
May God protect you!Reply
This is very good and encouraging news!Reply
Practically speaking, a chance came to test the effectiveness of the Gulf defence system or military co-operation in Yemen. However, the field has proven the weakness, not just of the individual or military forces, but also belief in collective military action. This is because the military strategy of the Gulf states isn’t the same due to failures in the Gulf system and its work as one unit on decisive issues. What is the benefit of the drills when each state has its own goals which have nothing to do with other states? There is a state against Iran, and another which is a clear agent of Iran. Therefore, the Gulf states shouldn’t deceive themselves; unless their leaders clear up their intentions and build their co-operation on sincere bases for their own interests and the defence of the Arab nation, we’ll see in the next decade at most a horrible end and major changes in that state. This will inevitably happen.Reply
The goal is one and the same; we must unite our ranks under one Arab Gulf command.Reply
May God grant victory to Muslims everywhere!Reply
Can we join the Saudi forces, whether the security or ground forces?Reply