The recently concluded "Iron Union 12" exercise underscores the depth of military and strategic co-operation between UAE and US forces, and their shared interest in countering regional threats, experts told Al-Mashareq.
Held between December 8th and 17th in the Abu Dhabi desert, the drill, which is part of a series of joint military exercises, aims to enhance both armies' interoperability and combat readiness.
Lt. Gen. Saleh Mohammed Saleh al-Ameri, Commander of the UAE Land Forces, and US Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville attended the last day of the drill, Emirati state news agency WAM reported.
This high-level participation, plus the large amount of troops and equipment involved in Iron Union 12, "reflects its importance during this critical period the region is going through", said retired UAE army officer Abdullah al-Ameri.
The exercise comes within the framework of the military and strategic partnership that links the UAE and the US, he told Al-Mashareq, pointing to the ongoing co-ordination between the two militaries.
The drills conducted as part of the exercise "allow the two sides to establish co-ordination through a joint operations room that issues orders to be implemented with precision on the ground", al-Ameri said.
"This exercise also provides added experience to UAE army soldiers, on the tactical level and through getting acquainted with all types of weapons," he said.
The exercise concluded with live-fire drills, he said, noting that these types of drills are essential to developing the combat capabilities of military forces.
This enabled participating soldiers to get acquainted with advanced military technologies and communication and target identification equipment, he added.
Joint exercises and manoeuvers land forces conduct in the desert rank among the most difficult and important, said Saudi military expert Mansour al-Shehri.
These are flat open areas where manoeuvering, transport or rapid intervention in combat operations can be challenging, he told Al-Mashareq, noting however that UAE and US forces stationed in the region are accustomed to this type of terrain.
"The threats the region is facing are pushing its armies to constantly strive to develop their capabilities," he said, noting that this makes these exercises essential to achieving full co-ordination.
The exercise included weapons training sessions, he said, with instruction on how to disassemble and reassemble them and troubleshoot minor malfunctions.
This ensures participating soldiers are fully comfortable handling and using their weapons, al-Shehri said.